This venture I’m involved with, the UT’s Community Editorial Board, has brought about mostly affirmative responses from around the city.
But of course there have been those who’ve reacted to what we’re trying to do by throwing dirt on it like Richard Rider, well known tax fighter around San Diego, who had this to say regarding my “Let’s Make a Better World for Our Children” kind of essay: “The first editorial “for the children” is by board member Ernie McCray, a lifetime hard left advocate. Indeed, as I recall, at one time McCray was actually the spokesperson for the local Communist Party. No, not the Democrat Party, or the Peace and Freedom (socialist) Party. The actual COMMUNIST PARTY. His lame response when confronted about this was that he was not a MEMBER of the Communist Party — they just needed an articulate spokesperson for their cause.”
Wow! Now, I’ve known a few commies well enough to say hello, and I’ve had friends who’ve designated themselves so, but I’ve found it hard enough just being a Negro without compounding that with allegiances to Mao or the Communist Manifesto. And there’s nothing within me, even with my larger than average ego, that would make me even come close to representing some group with an attitude of they don’t have anybody fluent enough to do so. Besides I thrive on being loved and there’s been no political group who has been hated more than communists by us Americanos.
Now, as to “a lifetime hard left advocate” with all its “radical” implications, well, I guess if you’ve got to stuff somebody into a “category” that might be me.
But if you asked me I would probably assign myself to a class of people who simply actively, pretty much daily, pursue their dreams of a better world with as much love as they can gather. I’ve always felt that as an educator such was expected of me. How else could I better contribute to helping young people grow as learned, caring, members of our society?
So I remember a day back in the mid 60’s when my sixth graders were told, in an assembly, “Come to South Africa, one of the most beautiful countries you could ever see.” I explained to them that such a declaration was true but it was also a nation that practiced Apartheid which was very similar to life down below the Mason Dixon line in our country at that very time. More than getting all left wingy about it I saw it as helping children to see their world truthfully.
When the school district got excited about integrating its schools, I was more than energized and happened to bring up how if we were truly dedicated to such an enterprise then we should, at least, say something to the State Teachers Retirement System considering the millions upon millions of dollars they had invested in companies doing business in – here we go again – South Africa, a nation that represented the exact opposite of integration. Man, everyone looked at me like I was Casey Anthony. More than “radical” in my way of thinking, my stance was just me trying to model for my students how critical thinking works.
A few years back I joined the ACLU in a lawsuit against SDUSD for conducting undercover drug busts on our campuses. I wasn’t trying to show off my “liberalism.” No. I was trying to say as loudly as I could: if we really wanted to get a grip on our drug problems, maybe we should get around our campuses and neighborhoods and see what’s going down instead of having a juvenile looking cop befriending kids and asking “Where can I get some good weed?” Maybe that’s leftist thinking but it was more about suggesting that we approach problems with our youth decently and with dignity.
Working a while back against Proposition 6, a hateful proposal which was brought about to get rid of gay teachers, it was more about standing up for human and civil rights than trying on my “socialist” hat for size.
Prop 187. A proposal to deny “illegal immigrants” from enjoying a range of California social services. As a principal I was assigned the role of La Migra. To that impossibility I declared “No way!” not to stroke my egalitarian tendencies but to let the families at my school know unconditionally that: I will not ever repay the love they had showered upon me by turning my back to their hopes and dreams because I loved them dearly too.
Society has all kinds of little narrow slots it likes to use to classify members of its citizenry and if left winged is where it wants me to be then I’ll snuggle up in that identity and from such a comfortable place continue trying to make our beautiful city a better place with no signs of regrets on my face. I’ll give you that, Mr. Rider. Communist, though. I don’t think so. That’s not a row I would ever want to hoe.
Image from johnxfire via flickr.
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