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.

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:

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 2 comments

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.

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 11 comments

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:

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 1 comment

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.

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 0 comments

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…

Read the full article → 1 comment

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.

Read the full article → 1 comment

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.

Read the full article → 8 comments

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;

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 15 comments

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.

Read the full article → 2 comments

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?

Read the full article → 0 comments

“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.

Read the full article → 0 comments

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.

Read the full article → 0 comments

An Old Scumbag’s Take on Bernie and Hillary Unifying Their Party

May 12, 2016 by Ernie McCray

Sanders and Clinton at the Democratic Presidential debate from St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, airing Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015

By Ernie McCray

For not supporting Hillary Clinton, people like me, including millions of young people, millennials, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, have been described as naive-unrealistic-shallow-thinking-delusional-idiotic-scumbags – and we’ve been compared to followers of Trump.

I didn’t see it coming, at all, as the insults have come from the kinds of people with whom I’ve been associated politically my entire voting life: 57 years.

Read the full article → 6 comments

Book Review Of Bill Walton’s “Back From The Dead”

April 27, 2016 by Ernie McCray

backfromthedeadBy Ernie McCray

I just finished one of those books that fit the category of a book that’s hard to put down: Back from the Dead by Bill Walton, one of the truly great basketball players and human beings. On the cover one reads “Searching for the sound, shining the light, and throwing it down.” That’s Bill, for sure, as I’ve followed him since he was a kid.

I didn’t know until I read his book that he was a musician, but I’ve known for a long time that he’s someone who’s attracted to the sounds of music, that he has been a player in the Grateful Dead scene for decades. I’ve known that he’s a lifelong learner, a man who’s constantly growing and questioning and shining a light on things that need tending to in our world. And his writing details somewhat poetically how he’s “thrown it down,” all out, throughout his life, in spite of forever having to endure an almost unbelievable array of crippling injuries and intense pain.

Read the full article → 2 comments

Experience and Explosive Situations

April 19, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

1393622639_560e2dea50Scrolling down my facebook timeline
I found that someone had written words in line
with the idea
that Hillary’s lengthy experience
in foreign policy
makes her a better choice than Bernie
for the presidency.
The words went thusly:
“Consider… North Korea hits South Korea
and Tokyo simultaneously
with ballistic nukes.
I think Hillary could deal with it.
Bernie is unproven.”
And all I could think was: “Whuuuut?”

Read the full article → 0 comments

Change We Can Believe In

April 13, 2016 by Ernie McCray

3040901870_561e28c135_oBy Ernie McCray

Obama first sold young people
on “Change we can Believe In”
and now Bernie
has them thinking along those lines again
in deeper ways
and I love watching their faces
at his rallies when he says to them
“Change comes from the bottom to the top.”
Their faces light up
as he teaches them how
they might best proceed
as they strive to meet
their world’s desperate needs.

Read the full article → 2 comments

America Was Great at One Time?

February 15, 2016 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for America Was Great at One Time?

America Was Great at One Time?

by Ernie McCray

Making America great again
sure sounds like something worth doing.
But the word “again,”
implies that America must have been
great somewhere along the line –
and when I run the feasibility of that
through my long-active mind,
having not been deaf or blind
in my time,
a couple of questions come to mind,
on the fly.
Like:
“When was the country ever great?”
And “Where in the hell was I?”
Really.
Oh, there is greatness all over the place
in the USA.
Great things: art, music, science, who’s going to argue with that?
Great human beings: who can beat Lincoln, Cesar, Fannie Lou and folks like that?
Great opportunities: in this country you can reach for the moon and places like that.
But, just speaking for me,
I have had to sit at the back of the bus,

Read the full article → 2 comments

The 56th Anniversary of Ernie McCray’s School-Record 46-Point Game

February 10, 2016 by Source

Ernie McCray 46pts
Editor: Ernie McCray – one of our regular and beloved columnists – still holds an Arizona basketball record. Ernie has written about his college basketball days, plus we have posted a few about his accomplishments. One of the posts we published was entitled:

After the game that McCray won, his teammates went to a restaurant to celebrate but he didn’t join them – he knew he wouldn’t be served.

By Javier Morales / Arizona Basketball, U of A/allsportstucson.com/Februay 6, 2016

Ernie McCray was listed as a center in 1960 although he was only 6’5?. On the night, he set the Arizona record with 46 points in a 104-84 win over Cal State Los Angeles 56 years ago today, McCray said in a 2014 interview that he made “four or five shots” from beyond what is the three-point line today. No three-point line or shot clock existed back then, making the feat that much more respectable (Tucson Citizen front page screen shot)

For 56 years Arizona’s scoring record has stood, Ernie McCray’s 46 points at the old Bear Down Gym against Cal State Los Angeles.

Read the full article → 3 comments

Grooving on a Saturday in a Child-Like State of Mind

February 10, 2016 by Ernie McCray

3829220020_a4fa84f410By Ernie McCray

Oh, I had such a beautiful day the other day. It got underway with me sitting on the edge of my bed, yawning and stretching and making grunty old folk noises in rhythm with the popping of my 77-year-old bones.

With my querida gone to a mountain retreat I found myself reminiscing, remembering how, as an only child, I was often home alone.

And I would just pass the time letting my imagination fly and roam far and wide, past all the “Yee-Ha!” I had to deal with in a day – and I’d dream of a world that didn’t put up with any of that and then, depending on the mood I was in, I would often make up a little ditty about this society that was given life in my imagination.

Read the full article → 0 comments

Making a Plea for Racial Harmony as Racism Rises from the Water

January 26, 2016 by Ernie McCray

3476867753_05c2178929By Ernie McCray

All my life I’ve heard that there’s nothing more American than apple pie. Well, I see that as kind of a lie as, based on my life experiences, there’s nothing more American than racism.

If apple pie was in my face as much as racism has been I’d be a 500-pound black guy as racism is as ever present as oxygen in a black person’s life, from the moment you’re born until the day you die.

It’s been passed along in America as a stumbling block against our human hopes and dreams like a baton in a relay race, in so many forms: slavery; Jim Crow; the constant tampering with our voting rights; white flight; execution of unarmed dark-skinned people on the streets, on a whim; mass incarceration and on and on and on ad nauseam…

Read the full article → 3 comments

From Good to Bad and Back to Good Again

December 29, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

I sat around last night trying to think of something to write and decided to click onto a page of prompts which gave me a choice of numbers between one and three-hundred-forty-six.

Sometimes just closing my eyes and moving the little arrow around on my Mac Os X and clicking randomly does the trick but I went, this time, with selecting number fifty-six.

Fifty-six is kind of a big number in my life. I had just turned 56 when Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa. A Highway 56 is named after Ted Williams, one of my favorite baseball players. I was in the Tucson High Class of ’56 and my life changed massively that year, in the time it takes to flip a light switch.

Read the full article → 0 comments

“Those People”

December 8, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Little-Boy-MeFriday after Thanksgiving, every two years. As black people and/or African Americans.

And let me tell you, it’s so nice to be among people who were at your side when you were a kid growing up trying to figure out how to make it in a world where you’re looked at as “Those people.” People to be looked down upon.

Like Muslims today, who, in the way we look at folks, could be anyone wearing a head scarf that covered their face. It’s a “They all look alike” kind of thing.

Read the full article → 0 comments

Laffing it Up

November 25, 2015 by Ernie McCray

Laff it up! - Hubba Jubba decalBy Ernie McCray

My mother used to say “Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying,” and when I think back on our days of second-class citizenship she sure wasn’t lying.

The other day Maria and I gave in to that old adage as we laughed about this and that, whiling the time away during her stay in a little two-bed hospital room at Scripps Mercy, worrying about what the doctor might say.

We started laughing ourselves silly listening to a woman’s (Maria’s roommate) emotional and animated conversation in Cantonese, with all the rhythmic inflections and rapidly changing nuances intertwined.

Read the full article → 1 comment