Waiting for Dark Clouds to Lift Someday

December 1, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Black-and-white photo of landscape dominated by cloudy sky and lone telephone pole

As I go along day to day, trying to move beyond the dark clouds that hover over me, I find myself indulging in reviving a few precious memories.

I see me in chorus in junior high school. Mr. Sidney Dawson is coaxing us to “sing it like you mean it” with a soulful expression on his face as he holds his hands over his heart.

I’ll always remember the day when we showed up at the Pioneer Hotel to perform, and the bellman said, “I can’t let you colored people come through the front door.”

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Thoughts Rising from the Darkness of My Grief

November 24, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Winter forest scene, bare trees

By Ernie McCray

Folks say to you, when you’ve lost a child: “I can’t imagine your pain.”

And they’ve got something there because the pain wrestling my emotions to the ground is unimaginable. Losing a child is in a category all by itself. It’s surreal.

I looked for a photo to go with the mood I’m in and I saw one that matched just how I am feeling, how I seem to be trudging through a burnt out forest on an LSD trip gone horribly awry with bees stinging the very fabric of my soul. I’m reeling from the very thought that my daughter Debbie’s death was against the natural order of things: she was supposed to some day mourn me — not the other way around.

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Remembering Debbie

November 14, 2017 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Debbie, my first born,
is gone, and now
is but a sweet memory for me
as I mourn.
With tears in my eyes
I reflect on our journey in life together
since she arrived,
seemingly out of the rich blue
of the Tucson skies
on January 4th, 1957,

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Call to Action: We Need Transparency, Not Secrecy, in Selecting New San Diego Police Chief

October 24, 2017 by Ernie McCray

In the next few months we will have a new San Diego Chief of Police and I hope that whoever gets the job can do something, for me, no one has been able to do: create an environment wherein I don’t find myself squirming a bit every time a police officer rolls up behind me or next to me. I just can’t help it, though, with my life’s experiences.

Now, hey, don’t get me wrong, I’ve known some good police officers — parents at my schools, guys I grew up with, dudes I’ve toked and toasted with, played ball with — it’s just that the bad seeds among them can be downright scary at times.

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Notions of Love Rising Out of the Darkness in Las Vegas

October 3, 2017 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I just left Vegas a few days ago, with very fresh memories of how loud and all aglow it was, which makes it particulary difficult for me, in these moments, to fathom a man mowing down people who are having a good time as though they were foes on a battlefield.

Such a tragedy tears at your heart and it came at a time when we Americans are already suffering as we seem to be spinning aimlessly away from embracing each other as fellow citizens.

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Seeking Equality with a White-Supremacist-in-Chief in the White House

September 21, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Woman holding sign reading "Super Callous Fragile Racist Sexist Nazi POTUS"

By Ernie McCray

Some dude on television was trying to make a case that the president is not a white supremacist.

But, hey, I’ve dealt with white supremacists for 79 plus years and I have to say that Donald J. Trump is not only one, he’s the best example of such a being I have ever seen.

Take what he did with Jemele Hill, the ESPN sportscaster, my latest hero. She called him out on his white supremacism and he wants her fired and wants the network to apologize to him for her “untruth.” Scratch the prefix “un” and you see what he really wants her to apologize for.

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Pillars of the Community: Seekers of Unity in a Climate of White Supremacy

August 23, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Group of people gathered in front of mural

I heard talk on TV about people being “stunned” that the president would say that both sides were at fault when he had “rebuked” (if you really want to call it that) the white nationalists’ stunningly violent and reckless behavior in Virginia just the day before.

Stunned about what? I would have been stunned if he hadn’t taken his words back. What happened was the dude desperately had to get back to his true self, back to speaking from the dark places in his mind.

And the way his mind works

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Making America Without so Many Crises Again

August 9, 2017 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I just hurriedly clicked off a discussion on TV concerning how Trump might do in the 2020 race for the presidency.

What little I heard was too much for me – because with all I’ve seen of this man idiocy – just mentioning his name in regard to his being re-elected.

That such a conversation can even take place in our democracy says to me that we are undoubtedly, in a bad place, in a state of social and political disgrace aka crisis.

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A Genealogy Adventure with Slave and Super-centenarian Moses Williams

August 4, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Members of the Jubilee Singers, nine men and women sitting or standing before the camera.

By Ernie McCray

Donya Williams, the four-times great-granddaughter of a man named Moses Williams, asked me if I would help draw attention to some research she and a cousin are doing titled: Stronger Together: The Moses Williams Genetic Genealogy Project.

So I started reading a bio she sent me of their work and can’t help but think they already know what they’re doing.

I was barely into reading other information when the names Strom Thurmond, 50 Cent, Al Sharpton, and L.L. Cool J jumped out at me – names I wouldn’t ever expect to appear in the same sentence.

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Millennials Are a Beautiful Sight to See

July 20, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Millennials. So many of us see them as lazy, naïve, un-motivated “Me-Me-Me” kinds of human beings who somehow threaten to bring the world to an apocalyptic end – all while taking a selfie.

But from all I’ve ever seen, it’s the Millennials, the 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds — and to think of it, the 40-year-olds — of any time who are at the forefront of societal change.

I mean, Thomas Jefferson was thinking, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” when he was 33.

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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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The Man Who Skipped Breakfast and Found a World of Love

March 17, 2017 by Ernie McCray

breakfast

(Thinking Black History Beyond February)

By Ernie McCray

Charlie Chatman woke up one morning saying to himself, as he had for so many mornings, for eternities: “Lord, give me the strength to put up with these damn peckerwoods one more day.”

The only thing he cared about in his godforsaken life, on a Hawkinsville, Georgia sharecropping plantation, was breakfast, whatever it happened to be, cornbread and scraps of pork, a potato or two, a cup of milk (maybe) – or some stolen boiled corn that the pigs were fed.

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An Enemy of the People

March 9, 2017 by Ernie McCray

EnemyBy Ernie McCray

All I can say about the early weeks of Donald J. Trump’s “First 100 Days” is that he has shown himself, in that time, to be an “Enemy of the People” in so many ways.

And there are those of us who keep saying “Give him a chance,” a rather non-nonsensical idea considering how he abuses chances every chance he gets.

He’s had and still has an enviable chance, as the most known person on the planet, with microphones and video cameras at his beck and call, to guide us in a spirit of love, so that we can be the kind of people Americans should be: tolerant people; caring people, people the rest of the world should be able to depend on.

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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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