Thoughts From the Soul of the Tucson Kid

Follow Ernie McCray as he writes about his life as an educator, a father, a husband and a civil rights activist. We are blessed to have him here and find inspiration in him and his words.

Everybody’s Talking About the ‘I’ Word

July 13, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Crowd with person holding sign: "impeach donald trump now .org

By Ernie McCray

Hey, y’all, have you heard?
Everybody’s talking ‘bout the “I” word.
“Impeachment,” in other words:
throwing The Donald to the curb;
finally fed up
with him on our last nerve
like a cowboy riding a wild bronco
wrangled from the herd;
realizing it is
extraordinarily absurd
continuing to let this “I” word
be deferred and deterred and misheard and/or
unheard and slurred and unstirred,
considering that we have a leader
who is emotionally disturbed,
who, on his own,
has made himself the last word
when it comes to
lacking political decorum…

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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

July 6, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Sign: LOVE with a peace sign for the letter O

By Ernie McCray

Tina Turner once sang “What’s love got to do with it?” And, ordinarily, as one who is a “love my neighbor as thyself” kind of guy, I’d answer: “Everything.” Giving my love is pretty much how I’ve managed to survive in the Milky Way. I don’t know any other way. But how loving am I? Really? I had never asked that question before receiving an email recently from an old friend, a high school classmate — in response to something I had written about The Donald. She wrote:

Dear Ernie. I believe that Mr. Trump is a deeply disturbed man. The only way I know of to soften that pain in my heart and gut is to send him love.

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Stream of Consciousness as a Brief Getaway

June 30, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Blue monochromatic image of three people in rowboat on calm water with man's face subtly appearing in the surface of the water

By Ernie McCray

PRELUDE: What’s written here are words that poured from me when I tried to, just for a few moments in time, air my mind of all the mania that seems to come from the White House from time to time aka all the time. It’s as written, word for word, with punctuation added to tidy it up a bit.

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The Truth Can Set Us Free

June 19, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Truth

By Ernie McCray

Jim Comey. My man! I wish I could shake his hand. I mean I’ve got to put aside my deep deep deep disdain for the FBI to give props to a man who has come through with something I’ve so much wanted somebody from a high place to do — call Donald J. Trump out for what he is: a liar. For all the world to hear and see.

Of course he was stating the obvious but it needed to be said just as he said it: out loud – because some of us and the media keep cutting him slack with witty intellectualizing about what a lie really is, how a lie might not be a lie if it wasn’t intended to be a lie. What a lie all of that is.

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Cheers to the San Diego Free Press, a Player in My Life’s Journey

June 8, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Editors’ Note: The staff of the OB Rag launched the online San Diego Free Press five years old this week. This is one in a series of posts reflecting on the paths we’ve traveled.

By Ernie McCray

San Diego Free PressMy journey in life has been down many a highway, leading me this way and that way. Mostly wonderful, though, I must say.

I could go on and on for days about the stops I’ve made in this voyage, about the human connections that have sat well in my soul: like my relationship with the San Diego Free Press, SDFP, which, by the way, is celebrating it’s fifth year of treating us San Diegans to an array of progressive news and views.

Propositions we can use.

I remember how the San Diego Free Press came to be, how we, at meetings of the OB Rag, with its major focus on Ocean Beach, thought about reaching out to all of San Diego.

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We Have Entered the Trump Zone

June 1, 2017 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Trump ZoneI don’t know about y’all but, with all the Three Stooges kind of shenanigans going on in the White House, I feel like we’ve entered the Trump Zone.

It’s definitely not the Twilight Zone, that’s for sure. The Trump Zone’s stories go way beyond any episode I’ve ever seen on the Twilight Zone.

No character in the Twilight Zone comes close to the main character in the Trump Zone, an orange faced villain with hair a scarecrow would refuse to wear, a man who, wherever you look, he is there.

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Making our Schools Safe for Muslim Students in a Climate of Hate

May 18, 2017 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Muslim studentsThere’s a survey highlighting that a large number of Muslim students are being bullied at school.

Our school district picks up on it and looks at ways to make them feel safe on their campuses. And before you can say “Way to go!” to the school system, a bunch of hateful folks come up with some “reverse discrimination” kind of BS.

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Keeping a Tucson Neighborhood’s Spirit Alive

May 17, 2017 by Ernie McCray

be the best neighborhood

By Ernie McCray

Recently I received an email from a friend asking me if I would lead a conversation that would begin with a piece of art, next April, on issues important to Dunbar, the neighborhood in Tucson, where I spent the first 24 years of my life.

I couldn’t get back to her with the answer, “Yes,” quick enough. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do, in life, than take part in a rap session on behalf of a community that resides at the core of who I am as a human being.

I mean, I am Dunbar personified.

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Happy Birthday, Ernie McCray: Still Pushing for What’s Good in the World at 79

April 18, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray 79

Streams of Consciousness the Day Before Turning 79

By Ernie McCray

Tomorrow. April 18th. If I make it I’ll be 79. 79.

Can’t wait to jam as a 79-year-old man. No, indeed. Time flashes at some kind of supersonic speed. Glad I’ve got me a beautiful woman and some mellow weed…

And there’s so much greed with people in need… And they choose to shoot at each other and drop bombs on each other in all kinds of weather, no thoughts of whether a timeout should be called at some point in human history…

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A Call to Action for an Activist Kind of Thinking at San Diego City College

March 29, 2017 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Some places in our lives resonate with us in special ways. San Diego City College is one of those places for me, a place that always seems to be about creating a better world. My kind of place.

Along these lines, I heard City College’s Interim President, Denise Whisenhunt, say to an overflow audience at the school’s Saville Theatre that the campus was “at the forefront of the social justice movement.”

Those words in her short welcoming speech seemed evident as I looked around me at all the attendees at the school’s “3rd Annual Social Justice & Education Conference,” a gathering that just gets better and bigger every year.

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Weathering Storms

March 22, 2017 by Ernie McCray

storms

By Ernie McCray

A hawk flies on gentle breezes outside my window, crowing away, perhaps seeking its prey or a mate, all unfolding on one of those “Reasons Why I Live in San Diego” kind of days: so lovely and warm, giving an appearance that, when it comes to weather, all is well with the world.

Then I think of the other day when my son and I ducked into the theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Museum to see “Extreme Weather,” an IMAX movie that took us on a breathtaking 360-degree tour of scenes that remind us that, climate-wise, we earthlings are in deep ca-ca.

All is definitely not well. We’ve jabbed and danced around and clowned, burning coal and oil and natural gas and bulldozed and chopped down our rain forests, backing Mother Nature up against the ropes, leaving her no choice but to come off those ropes and huff and puff and blow us and our houses down!

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We’ve Got to Stay Ahead of this Devil Named Trump

February 9, 2017 by Ernie McCray

DevilBy Ernie McCray

I was watching Stephen Colbert the other night, laughing away at his brilliant witticisms and daffiness, and a segment came on wherein a visual, referring to Trump’s “ban,” read, in part, “…a five year old was handcuffed…”

I stopped chuckling for a moment in reaction to such a terrible statement, trying to picture a five year old being shackled. But Colbert was on a flow so I had to let that go and next up on the show was White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, commenting on the little boy’s inhuman predicament with these words:

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A Little Bit of Aristotle’s Philosophy for the Ethically Challenged GOP

January 18, 2017 by Ernie McCray

EthicallyBy Ernie McCray

Aristotle was of the belief that “Achieving good character is a process of clearing away the obstacles that stand in the way of the full efficacy of the soul.”

He came up with such an ethical notion somewhere between 384-322 B.C.E. And here we are, as a nation, in the 21st Century, facing GOP powers-that-be in Washington D.C. who, instead of seeking ways to ethically tend to our society’s political and social needs, choose to do whatever they desire whenever they please.

“To hell with the rules,” is their operating policy.

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On the Topic of the GOP and Ethics

January 10, 2017 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for On the Topic of the GOP and Ethics

By Ernie McCray

It makes perfect sense to me that the House Republicans tried to secretly curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics because, if you have no ethics, you damn sure don’t want some nosy person poking around documenting it.

And these GOP characters are as to ethical behavior as a sea turtle is to Death Valley. They’ve demonstrated for decades, which anyone can google, that they are not, by any means, on speaking terms with anything anywhere near synonymous with “ethics.” They are, in a word, ethic-less, if you will.

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The Hip School Where the Arts Rule

January 9, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Arts classroom scene with handful of young children and an adult

By Ernie McCray

I had moments not too long ago when I thought that I just might not be around in 2017 – based on the complete lack of energy I was enduring day after day, with my belly under siege by some bacteria that just didn’t want to leave.

But I’m still here on the scene, happy as a lark, slowly getting back to my routines. Wanting to write something regarding my making it to 2017, I checked a writing prompt website and chose number 17 of the choices, as a symbol for 2017, and it read: “In 400 words create your ideal place.”

That put me in a nice place because the prompt could have been something like “Write a 150 word profile on somebody named ‘Margaret Mallory’” or write about “something wrapped” which would have called on more creativity than I wanted to own. I just wanted to kick the new year off in a nice tone.

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We Have to Stop Lamenting and Keep Hope Alive

December 30, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

The last two months of this year have been a living hell for many people, including me, considering our social and political sins but I’m definitely not going to classify 2016 as the worst year of my life – as a lot of people seem to be doing.

I mean by nature I tend to give very little value to my crummy times and tons of bonus points to the moments wherein my soul is filled with hope. Where there’s hope there’s got to be a good year. And I’m pretty much hoping for this and that all the time.

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Trying to Climb Back to the Mountain Top

December 21, 2016 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for Trying to Climb Back to the Mountain Top

by Ernie McCray

On the Sunday before the election I felt so good, sitting on a rock at Mt. Palomar in the sun. The day before I had gone on an invigorating hike as woodpeckers stored acorns and wasps and gnats and flies flitted about with critters unseen on the run.

I was on the top of the world, my usual self, full of humor, and get up and go.

Election night came along and after the results were in I had evolved into somebody I didn’t recognize. It seemed as though I had been shot with a taser gun that had been designed to take down a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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It’s Time to Let Our Light Shine

December 14, 2016 by Ernie McCray

2324860157_7d39208c02By Ernie McCray

As I more and more awaken from the shock to my body and soul as a result of Donald Trump being my president, I keep thinking back to my Sunday School days in the 40’s singing a song our teacher, Mr. Chandler, taught us:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…

Mr. Chandler, a beautiful man, with a voice like Paul Robeson’s, would tell us:

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How Can We Help Our Children Rise Above The Times?

November 1, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

ChildrenI’m thinking that our present times are not serving our children well. I mean, as I look at what’s going on in our society it seems as though we are all caught up in an atmosphere of lunacy wherein we have pretty much thrown our hands in the air like we just don’t care and kissed our way of life goodbye.

The saddest part of all this to me is our children are watching our madness, as only they know how: closely.

And they’ve got be as confused as they can be as they observe so many “grownups” going along with the program of a real live frightening bogeyman-like human being who crash landed in our midst and evolved, like a curse in an episode of the Twilight Zone, into a candidate for the highest office in our land.

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Thinking of Old Badgers in the Autumn of Our Years

October 7, 2016 by Ernie McCray

Autumn via FlickrBy Ernie McCray

Looking at an autumn scene, with trees changing colors, overlooking a lake of cold water, signifying the last season of a year, I thought of how I’m in the autumn of my years.

And from that I couldn’t help but think about the Class of ’56 of Tucson High, people whom I hold dear, old “Badgers” celebrating a time when we were classmates 60 years ago.

Our hair, like the leaves in the picture of the trees, has thinned and its color has changed as has a host of other things.

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Hoping a Museum Will Help My People Finally Overcome

September 26, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Black History and Culture MuseumSoon the new National Museum
of African American History and Culture
will open and stand infinitely
on the National Mall
in Washington D.C. –
sharing a home
with other grand memorials
commemorating extraordinary
Americans and events
in our nation’s history,
giving “Black Lives Matter”
fresh breath,
dignifying the humanity
of kidnapped and bought people
who toiled as slaves
in cotton fields in a long ago day,
to those, like me, who survived the evil-ness
of Jim Crow’s ways,
to those born this very day
with so many in the nation
speaking loudly of making America great again
as compared to who knows when.
Oh, it so enlivens my soul
to have my people’s stories told.

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A Water Goddess Who Appears and Disappears Suddenly

September 20, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Photo by Ernie McCray goddessOh, I remember days, just a few years ago, when memories of Nancy (my very dearly departed soulmate) would weaken me in the knees and draw heavy tears from my eyes … but thank goodness such dreary days eventually wither and die.

Now, when she comes to my mind’s eye, it’s a welcomed occasion, and she’ll usually surface at a real nice time.

Like everytime one of our grandchildren is born I can’t help but see her as a Grandma: getting little Lyric Allen or Marley Mandela or Indigo Maya (or all of them at the same time) in a headlock on the living room floor, they giggling uncontrollably; guiding them into swimmers on our Pacific shores; holding them to her breast with every ounce of the deep well of love that dwelled in her; making them pose for more photographs than should be legal; singing them silly made-up-on-the-spot ditties and songs…

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We Can Display Our Patriotism In Many Ways

September 9, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Photo credit: Flickr.com / PacificKlaus PatriotismI keep thinking about Colin Kaepernick and how so many people have badmouthed him for sitting during the National Anthem rather than addressing his concerns in a “more appropriate way.”

And considering that (as I brought out in a prior piece about Kaepernick) his concern is about the oppression of black people and other people of color, those of us who are so designated really want to know how we can pursue our dream of “liberty and justice for all” in a way that suits the country’s fancy.

Because we’ve been trying like hell. For centuries.

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An NFL Quarterback Was Just Added to My List of Social Heroes

August 31, 2016 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for An NFL Quarterback Was Just Added to My List of Social Heroes

by Ernie McCray

This is so deja vu, this state of affairs with Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49’ers quarterback who sat when one is “supposed to stand” in honor of The Star Spangled Banner that heralds a time when non-white people in our county were not seen as human beings.

I fully understand and appreciate this man’s stance although I stand whenever the anthem is played out of respect for those who get goose pimples in such moments. However, I bow out at singing about “bombs bursting in air” and “flags still being there” and the empty promises inherent in the braggadocio “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!” at the end of the song.

That aside, I can’t help but think back to the 68 Olympics, when the quest for “liberty and justice for all,” in a spirit of today’s “Black Lives Matter” movement was pursued like never before. My soul still fills with pride remembering the image of Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the ceremony for handing out the gold and the silver and the bronze medals for the men’s 200, standing on their podiums with their heads bowed and their hands raised in the “Black Power!” salute.

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Remembering a Sad Moment in ‘Gay Paree’

August 15, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Photo credit: flickr / Sean X. LiuParis. Maria and I and her family spent 16 days there in late June, literally taken by its beauty and its charm.

I have such sweet memories of our time there:

Our cursing the five flight of stairs to our apartment every time we returned from somewhere;

All the sights, the art, the culture, the fashion, the cuisine; the Metro; the soccer madness created by the Euro-Games;

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Voting my Conscience for my Grandson and All the Children of the World

August 5, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

unnamedI don’t usually run scared but it frightens me to the bone when I hear so many people say that there’s just no way they would ever vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m voting my conscience too. But I’m doing it in behalf of children, people like my little three-year-old grandson and his contemporaries.

My vote is based on what’s in front of me as possibilities, like the possibility that Donald Trump could, in reality, become the president and set the tone for how things are going to be in a society wherein my grandson is going to learn about his world. Well that’s terrifying to me – especially considering my 78 years of struggles in this country.

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A Vacation of Joy and Misery and Hope

July 27, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray (in Arles?)

Maria and I just spent 38 days in Europe with a stop in Philly on the way home, a vacation that had a combination of both joy and misery and ended with notions of hope.

It began with a man driving us from the Madrid-Barajas Airport to our hotel, talking about politics all the while. He wanted us to know that Spaniards, as we Americans do, have a few Donald Trumps around town. He had a lot to say about our president, a man he admired “for how he stepped up and got the U.S. out of the recession.”
All that made us feel very welcomed and eager to explore the city. Then came Orlando, news that weakened our knees. Our tragedies, kind of, I think, seem even more dismal when you see them from far away, in another culture. You kind of feel that it reflects on you in some way.

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We’ve Got to Get Out and Vote Folks!

May 31, 2016 by Ernie McCray

People lined up to enter building to vote

By Ernie McCray

What’s up with us liberals? We’ve freaked out over a chair supposedly being thrown in protest of shenanigans involving voting in Nevada. And we’re beside ourselves that Hillary got booed and hissed by folks whom we say “aren’t really democrats.”

I don’t like all that but I’ve learned over the years that politics can get rather mean and we democrats are proving that based on how we’re treating each other just discussing matters I’ve just described: talking to each other in caps and exclamations, littered with a few vulgarities.

Shouldn’t we be celebrating a campaign that’s been marvelous if, for no other reason, because of the important questions that are being raised regarding and by two very passionate democratic candidates?

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“Eleanor’s Story”: A Book and a Stage Production Not to be Missed

May 24, 2016 by Ernie McCray

p_2256_i_6661656By Ernie McCray

I met a woman named Eleanor Ramrath Garner early in April at a nice party at a beautiful Del Mar home with a wonderful view on a warm inviting sunny day.

The gathering had everything I like: delicious food; refreshing drinks; interesting witty people, scholars all, practically, filled with colorful stories to tell and they didn’t mind telling them.

Some of them had written doctoral studies and books and essays for professional publications. Eleanor happened to mention that she was an author. She didn’t say what her book was about but something about her made me want to read it. So I looked for it on Amazon.

And there it was: “Eleanor’s Story, an American Girl in Hitler’s Germany.” I clicked on “See a random page” and a picture appeared of Eleanor’s little brother and sister on Christmas Day in 1945 with the words “This was our best Christmas ever because we had survived the bombings, the Battle of Berlin, and hunger.”

I was sold.

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Having Fun Watching my Grandson Having Fun

May 18, 2016 by Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray old hippieBy Ernie McCray

The other day, for some reason, a wonderful memory rose in my mind of times when my grandson, Marlon, was dancing on the stage at SCPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) to the hooting and hollering sounds of girls who were swooning from the very sight of him.

As I remembered those days I couldn’t help but think about how I had never experienced anything like that. Ever. I mean I’ve wondered a few times how somebody in my bloodline came out looking as fine as he does.

Since those days, he’s evolved into ML Wilson, performer, rapper, actor, a hip-hop-beat-maker. Living in San Francisco, pursuing his showbiz dreams.

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