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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 2.17.11

Who's Got Your Back?

I am armed without weapons

By Mark Harris

The question of who "has your back" has occupied me of late. You should of course have your own back, if people around you are incapable of doing so. When you keep your friends close, and your adversaries closer, your opponents instruct you about your vulnerabilities, optimally allowing you to strengthen them in advance of an encounter. The "what goes around comes around" lessons of history are always useful as training. What they did to my folks because of race, they're doing to ya'll folks for the money.

Don't count on the solidarity of the Pledge of Allegiance " the loyalty isn't to country, but to money. Sometimes it's clear the cavalry ain't comin' because even if you pay their paycheck, they ain't comin' to rescue you, but the settlers. The We, in We The People, and not You People. The Ju$t U$ in Justice for All. While Natives include All My Relations, the indigenous may not possess the technology to shelter or protect you,

Sensei says "We train, so we don't have to fight." In martial arts and social interaction the skill of haragei allows you to nonverbally perceive the truth of a situation, and look behind what a person says, to what they actually mean, without revealing what your true feelings, intentions, and skills are. Inner "Morpheus " Afro-Samurai" advises me Death rides on my left shoulder, advising that there are no ordinary moments. Cultivate appreciation of the fragile transitory blossom of the sunlight of a baby's smile. No home but spine's base; no sword but MuShin (empty mind).

In the wake of recent LCC events I created a Facebook page most specifically for work at Lane. I used a classic slave picture as my profile picture. His shirt is off, his back is to the camera, there is a collage of bullwhip scars on his back, whether from one beating or many no one can say. When asked why I had such a "horrific" profile picture, I replied, "He's saying the person who did this is dead, without my lifting a finger. I am armed without weapons. I'm still here, and no one sees these scars who cannot already see my pain." If you have my back you know what's there without me metaphorically taking the shirt off. You try not to add to the scars. For example, if an agency has "my" back, you already should know what's offensive about a white therapist (from an ethnicity who've been traditional civil rights allies) calling a black client a tar baby. You should know Emmett Till actually happened and I'm not making it up. A historically racist pickaninny image with a bone in its hair and a watermelon on its shoulder is not a "huggie," and cannot be displayed in my workplace without an artist's context statement as the law requires, however beloved your childhood memories are of it. Such is life in Eugene; common knowledge for some is common ignorance for others. Who's got your back? Train them.

Mark Harris is an instructor and substance abuse prevention coordinator at LCC.