February 17, 2015
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by Ernie McCray
When I look back at my own little chapter of Black History, I feel grateful that I found a path that enabled me to survive a society that sought to deny me a life of dignity.
I, unknowingly, set out on this path on my first day of school, when my knuckles were, seemingly, knocked to kingdom come because I had dozed off, as if I had a choice in a room sizzling at 100 and some degrees with a fan (itself struggling to stay awake) blowing across a pail of water as though that could lower the temperature in that room to any degree. I swear I heard that fan wheeze. Talking, Tucson, Arizona, August or September of 1943.
I remember thinking, back then, as I looked at my hands, surprised to see my knuckles still there, “What the hell kind of welcome was that?” And I knew, as much as a five-year old can know such things, that someday I would be a teacher.
I would observe goings on in every school I ever attended, thinking of what I might have done differently if I had been the teacher. I’d imagine how I would have made lessons come alive, or more relevant to students’ lives.
February 16, 2015
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In international news, the recent liberation of the Syrian city of Kobani from the control of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters by Syrian Kurd rebels was a little reported story which popped up briefly for its 15 minutes on the mainstream media roulette wheel of fame. Then it disappeared. But the under-reported little story – a story with a huge irony – deserves retelling.
The story – which can be pieced together from a number of media reports – involves the identity of the major fighting force that kicked ISIS out of Kobani, a city of 200,000 mainly ethnic Kurds in north Syria, a stone’s throw from the Turkish border.
It turns out it was a group of Syrian Kurd leftists who kicked ISIS’ ass, if you forgive the vernacular, after 4 months of intense house-to-house fighting, at times room-to-room, and pushed them out of the city entirely. It was the People’s Protection Units, a local leftist organization, and its affiliate, the Women’s Protection Units, that have collective command structures and believe in the equality of women, and – in fact – have numerous women commanders in the fighting units. (These are new wave Sixties leftists, not from the old school like China, Russia, North Korea.)