What’s His Name? An Essay by Shirley Robinson Sprinkles, Ph.D

by on January 12, 2011 · 13 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture

Shirley Sprinkles, Ph.D

Editor: Shirley Robinson Sprinkles, a lifelong friend of Ernie McCray, wrote to us sharing her thoughts on the events that took place this last week in her town of Tuscon, and we wanted to share them with you. Thank you Shirley.

“What’s his name?” –yes, that’s the question all of the network reporters were asking as they frantically scampered about, jumping over people with their microphones and cameras—each trying to be “first” with the news reports they would file about the horrific massacre they were covering in Tucson, Arizona—my hometown. For these sophisticated, largely East Coast, folks, names like Hernandez, Rhee, Grijalva, and Morales would need to be spell-checked to get right before submitting copy on the biggest story of this decade; the attempted assassination of a United States Congresswoman, and cold-blooded murder of six others—including a nine-year-old child.

As painful as it was to watch the unfolding of such a monumental, senseless tragedy, I couldn’t help noting who came up as the heroes and heroines of the day. A Mexican intern to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who plugged her head wound with his hand and held her close in the position that saved her life, several Mexican good Samaritans who overcame their own fears in order to attend to wounded victims of the shooting rampage, and yes, a Chinese doctor named, Peter Rhee, who is credited with organizing the bloody chaos at University Medical Center so proficiently that many lives of the wounded were saved, including Mrs. Gifford’s, and seeing to it that professional services were rendered at the highest levels of efficiency.

Peter Rhee

Few people in mainstream America are aware, as I am, because I grew up there, of the irony of these names co-mingling in the history being made today. It is not commonly known that Tucson hosts a large contingency of Chinese as well as Hispanic citizens—an outcome of days gone by when clusters of this cultural group were brought to Arizona to build the railway system that traverses the state and connects Arizona with the rest of the country. These industrious, entrepreneurial-minded people remained there and opened businesses like grocery stores, dry cleaners, and restaurants, and bought up much of the land on which many of Tucson’s existing commercial, industrial and residential properties were erected. I was not at all surprised to see a Chinese Chief of Trauma and Emergency Operations at the University of Arizona’s world-class hospital and medical center, although I’m sure it’s a job he could not have had when I lived there, even if he deserved it.

As to the courageous Hispanic heroes of the sad event, my mind would not behave as it conjured up images of a scenario wherein someone would have shouted:

”Wait! Don’t touch her! What is your legal status? Are you a documented U.S. citizen, or an illegal alien? We have to know this before you can be trusted to help these true-blue American people!”

Daniel Hernandez

If Daniel Hernandez had answered in the negative, admitting that his citizenship was yet to be determined, we would be contemplating a whole different conclusion than the hopeful one we now entertain. I don’t know whether or not this brave young man, who used his nursing training and personal fortitude to preserve the life of Gabby Giffords until EMS arrived, is a first, second or third generation Mexican. I could care less whether or not he qualifies for “temporay immunity” if he is not already a natural-born citizen. All I know is that I sure as hell wish we had more people like him in this country!

Jared Loughner, by all accounts, is a United States citizen by birth and education-the type we say we want here. But, in my opinion, he was failed by someone, somewhere—perhaps everywhere. I doubt that Daniel Hernandez was brought up as privileged as Loughner, socially and economically, I know I wasn’t. In Arizona, the stigma of race is still alive and well after all these years. But, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Mr. Hernandez is a decent human being who learned somewhere to earn his way in the world by saving lives; not by taking them. He is a contributor, not a destroyer. I hope that those who have harbored and spewed the deep animosity dispatched in broadcast and print news media against this segment of our society these days will step back and reflect on what the world has just witnessed.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Old Hermit Dave January 12, 2011 at 11:03 am

The stories on this Tucson Gun Nut keep getting bigger and bigger. All we need is a Life Magazine cover photo of Crazy Wild Eyed Baldy standing in his back yard holding a rifle, pistol in a holster, copy of the Daily Worker in his pocket


Shirley Robinson Sprinkles January 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Dave, many people are focusing on the presumed political motive of this very disturbed and “unhinged” young man. I, however, believe that his problems are rooted in poor relations with his immediate family, and are fueled by his use of marijuana before his brain was developed enough to overcome its effects. After having an argument with his father (one of many we are learning), is it possible that this rampage was a case of displaced rage? Just wondering. ..


Old Hermit Dave January 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Very good points Shirley. I still have some problems with this event. Mainly the Tucson police. If a naked guy in the ocean can bring 35 San Diego police racing into OB, where was half the Tucson police that day?


Ernie McCray January 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I loved this piece written by my dear old friend who I just happened to meet in the fourth grade when we were both nine years old. We were contributors to our school and to our community that far back like Christina.
Shirley sure pointed out something for us to ponder as she has all her life. I used to be amazed as a child as I observed her intelligence, her innate ability to see the heart of things, in action. I’m glad that OBceans are now witnesses of her thoughts.


Shirley Robinson Sprinkles January 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Ernie, Sh-h-h! You’re making me blush! Your endorsement means the world to me, Dear Friend.


Sarah January 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Thank you, Shirley. You reminded me of “Rosa’s Mexican and Chinese Restaurant” that used to be there on Speedway. If I remember correctly, Rosa married a chinese man and there you have it! Decent food of both cuisines and a passel of Mexican / Chinese / American kids waiting tables.

Or was that a dream?


Shirley Robinson Sprinkles January 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Sarah, I was probably gone from Tucson when Rosa’s cafe was opened, but I do vividly remember The Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant, owned by the Chan family, that was located on the corner of Broadway and Campbell Ave.–just up the street from my home. You know, I don’t recall ever sitting down to a meal there. Quite likely, I wouldn’t have been able to do that because of Jim Crow laws that kept people like me out of restaurants that were not owned by Black people. Anyway, the food always smelled good!


Frank Gormlie January 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm

More about the Tucson shooting:
Some AZ GOP leaders resign out of fear of tea party violence;

Palm Springs man arrested for making threats against Washington state Democrat;


Ellen Calhoun January 13, 2011 at 8:08 am

Mom, what a great perspective you bring for all to enjoy and consider. How refreshing! You make me so proud.



Shirley Robinson Sprinkles January 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Not nearly so proud as you make me!


Arlene January 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Hi Shirley,

Excellent insight.
Perhaps one day the seeing will see and perhaps one day the hearing will hear. Our prayer is that these precious lives will serve as mirrors as we look at the man in the mirror and transform our thinking-heart, mind and soul.
Prayers for the families and thanks to the Samaritans.



Shirley Robinson Sprinkles January 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Amen. Well said.


Shirley Robinson Sprinkles January 15, 2011 at 7:16 pm

As always you make the world a better place with your honesty, and love of compleatness. and love for every good and precfect person who has used their life for good and not evil. As I watched this terror, played out on national news it bought tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart.


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