Helping Black Students Shine

November 30, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Lately I’ve been thinking of Black kids, Black students, specifically. Thinking of all the teachable moments out in the universe that I would call on to help them shine if I were in the classroom during these times.

And the first thought that came to mind is I would turn them on to what it means to be Black at this very time.

We’d talk about what we’d all just seen this past NBA season, superstars flying through the air slamming monstrous dunks and shooting rainbow 3’s with “Black Lives Matter” sewn into their jerseys.

We’d talk about the significance embedded in a Black woman taking on the role of Vice-president of the United States, the first of her gender to serve in such a capacity.

We’d talk about how Black voters showed up in large numbers, essentially rescuing a drowning democracy.

Read the full article → 0 comments

It feels So Good Calling Arizona my Home

November 16, 2020 by Ernie McCray

It feels So Good Calling Arizona my Home

by Ernie McCray

I’m so proud
of Arizona,
my home state,
for the mood I’m in.
For something
other than
its beauty
which I’ve basked in
since who knows when,
having hiked among its
Saguaros
and along the lovely trails
in Sabino Canyon,
in the Old Pueblo
when I was a little boy
not many years old;

Read the full article → 4 comments

America, Who the Hell Are We?

November 9, 2020 by Ernie McCray

America, Who the Hell Are We?

by Ernie McCray

Whew!
Wow!
What a ride!
I was about
to explode inside!

I mean
as a dreamer
I had thought
this election
was going to be taken
in a landslide,

Read the full article → 3 comments

Moments of Sheer Joy

October 30, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Being a bit squeamish in this pandemic I hadn’t seen my family in a while but I saw some of them the other day in a neighborhood park.

Maria, my beautiful sidekick, and I were the first to arrive. And I had no idea when my offspring would appear as we are “see you when I get there” kind of folks.

So, I stretched my long self out in my beach chair and just scoped the scene, chuckling at a few squirrels playing “Stop and Go,” watching as children ran to and fro and I smiled and waved a “Hello” at a couple of passersby I know.

And then I looked up and saw Nyla, one of my twin daughters, coming towards me and shortly afterwards Tawny, the other half of the duo, drives up with her children, Lyric and Marley, and her sister’s little girl, Indigo.

Then my youngest son, Carlos, came and we were all good to go and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt, in my life, more sheer joy than what I felt in my moments with them that day, not to mention we were there basically on time – so there was no lost time.

Read the full article → 2 comments

Feeling Warm and Sunny

October 22, 2020 by Ernie McCray

Feeling Warm and Sunny

by Ernie McCray

It’s such a warm
and sunny feeling
to sense
human progress
in the air
like the other day
in a Zoom meeting
with a few athletes
at the U of A
about inclusion,
human beings being
valued for who they are,
me sharing
how, in my day,
there was little to no interest
in social
or political change,
how we athletes, in the main,
just played our games.

Read the full article → 2 comments

A Statue in Absentia

October 20, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Pete Wilson’s statue near Horton Plaza was removed and I feel a little more at ease with my world.

I mean, for a long time, I’ve been tired of looking at his likeness when I’d be out and about downtown to eat or catch a play, or to just stroll and enjoy a beautiful San Diego day.

Every time I came upon that image of him, standing bronzed, smiling, with his hands in his pockets, like he’s your friend, I’d think back on a day in the mid-70’s when he told me “Make yourself in absentia, Mr. McCray” – after I had laid something out I thought he and his City Council should and could do something about.

His response kind of cracked me up, at first, because I had never been dismissed in Latin, but I was deeply disturbed because the mayor asked me to leave just after I had copped a plea for human decency. I wanted our city to join a movement back then that involved taking a stand against South Africa’s institutionalized racist apartheid system of segregation by divesting from corporations doing business there.

Read the full article → 3 comments

Pray for Trump?

October 14, 2020 by Ernie McCray

Pray for Trump?

by Ernie McCray

There are folks praying
for the president
to get well
and I can only exclaim,
“What the hell?”
considering that
when I got word that
that he had covid
after he has recklessly
in line with his modus operandi
laughed at it
and scoffed at it
and lied about it,

Read the full article → 4 comments

From an Old Jock to Young Jocks at the U of A

October 6, 2020 by Ernie McCray

From an Old Jock to Young Jocks at the U of A

by Ernie McCray

Hey, you Wildcats!
I write this
after co-hosting
a fundraiser
for a candidate for City Council
in my town
who’s totally devoted
to social justice
and equality
for everyone
no matter their ethnicity,
color or creed
or background.

Read the full article → 1 comment

The Twinkle in My Eye

October 2, 2020 by Ernie McCray

The Twinkle in My Eye

(Poem for My Youngest Grandkids)

by Ernie McCray

You guys
are the
twinkle in my eye.
And speaking of eye
hardly a day goes by
that I don’t,
in some moment,
see you all
in my mind’s eye:

Read the full article → 5 comments

Will We Ever Breathe Free?

September 28, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

We Black folks
always wonder
if we’ll ever breathe free,
like others of our species,
ever since
we, caught napping,
were snatched
from our homeland
as kidnappees
and stacked
in boats
as contraband
and dumped
in shacks
as un-hired hands,
spending our lives
standing rigidly
for centuries
bent over long cotton sacks

Read the full article → 1 comment

Caster Semenya, a Gift of Nature

September 23, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

One of my favorite athletes is Caster Semenya.

As a former half-miler I love the way she comes off that last 200, so strong, yet relaxed, at a pace the other runners totally lack.

As we used to say: “She can step, Jack!”

But people in the world of track have barred her from running track – unless she undergoes surgery or takes drugs to regulate her high testosterone levels – to “level the playing field,” not taking into consideration that, no matter how they feel, Caster Semenya is still a woman.

Read the full article → 0 comments

Being Grateful for What I Can Be Grateful For

September 14, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I remember when
my grandfather
would talk to me
during those times
when the world’s
troubles and woes,
the likes of
extreme poverty
the fear of A-bombs
and Jim Crow
were keeping everybody
on their toes,
he’d say,
“No matter
how life was going,
you need to know
we’d best
be grateful
for anything|
we can be grateful for” so

Read the full article → 7 comments

When I Think of Love

September 8, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

When I think of love,
I think of how
it has safely
taken me through
life’s dark clouds
and drowning seas
as well as through life’s joys
and well-earned victories;
I think of how love
has been sung
as “the only thing
that there’s
just too little of”
and being that that’s one thing
I’m truly certain of
I feel compelled
to speak to
all the madness
and sadness
I see to the right and left of me
in a society,
falling behind

Read the full article → 3 comments

Do We Call On Our Black Anger or Our Black Love?

September 3, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking of how my people have overcome so many things in this country. For centuries.

You name it, we’ve overcome it. But we just can’t overcome the anger that comes with being Black in this society.

It’s a Black anger, if you will, because it’s ours alone, a form of anger that’s always there, beneath the surface, like a low-burning flame that needs a rush of air to get it really going.

And, since it’s usually the actions of angry White folks that gives our anger oxygen, we can’t ever fully relax it because, in our experience, we never know when we might have to react to what a White person has done – to one of us. Or a number of us.

When it’s least expected.

Read the full article → 7 comments

Thoughts About ‘Being Black in Tucson, AZ’

August 25, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I’ve been a member of our group, “Being Black in Tucson, AZ,” for a little while now, commenting on a thing or two, but I’ve never introduced myself to you.

That being said I’m an 82-year-old dude who spent the first 24 years of his life “Being Black in Tucson, AZ.” Since then I’ve lived in San Diego which is just an hour away by plane and five hours away by car. I didn’t want to go too far. Because I dearly love my hometown.

For its physical beauty and power that make it a spiritual place for me: hiking trails in Sabino Canyon above refreshing pools and streams; powerful Sonoran winds that you can lean against; frightening monsoons that give the Santa Cruz River a chance to roar; majestic saguaros with their lovely blossoms.

For how far it has come since the Jim Crow days of my youth when people like me were limited as to when we could

Read the full article → 7 comments

My Sunshine on Cloudy Days

August 17, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

To feed my spirit
every now and then,
in moments,
nowadays,
I find myself,
singing “My Girl”
like I’m on stage
with the Temptations,
because “hey,”
like David Ruffin
and them,
I’ve got a woman who
makes me feel like
“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day” too,

Read the full article → 4 comments

Reliving My High School Days

August 12, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

After writing a piece about how an old photo briefly took my mind off today’s troubles in the world I’ve found another that does the same. Very nicely.

This one was taken in 1996, catching me smiling and clowning at the 40th Reunion of the Class of ’56 of Tucson High – in a room full of 58-year-olds feverishly reminiscing about days gone by and about how fast those years have seemed to pass by.

The conversations were all over the place. There was, of course, the obligatory topic that every generation brings up about “The kids of today” and how we were better than them in our time.

The big questions of the night were “Who you like, Clinton or Dole?” and “What about that Michael Jordan and the Bulls, huh?”

I must have heard “So the Yankees are in the World Series again, what else is new?” a few times.

Read the full article → 3 comments

A Kind of Ode to the Gray in My Hair

August 7, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

This is a kind of an ode
to my wild
and wiry hair
that’s ever so gray
that, particularly,
looked so beautiful to me
as I checked it out
in the mirror one day
because I happened to be thinking
how some old people like me
look at their gray hair
in utter despair
and turn it
into godawful colors
that hadn’t ever been seen
anywhere.

Read the full article → 1 comment

Enjoying an Old Photo As a Momentary Relief from Reality

August 4, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Looking through a picture album to distract me from Trump lying and whining as people are dying and as federal troops violate the rights of protestors, one picture, in particular, caught my eye.

It’s a one of me standing on the top step leading to the front door of the first house I ever owned, a house that my daughter, Debbie, owned at the time. It was the summer of 1976 and I was taking a break from helping Debbie with her Lamaze training shortly before Cedric, her first child and my first grandchild, came into the world. Her future husband was out to sea with the U.S. Navy.

I don’t know what was on my mind at that moment in time but it very well could have been what had been on my mind for some time, thoughts of my daughter parenting a child as a teen like I had.

Read the full article → 8 comments

Let an Old Man Hip You to Something

July 29, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I’ve always
thought of myself as hip,
up on things,
tuned in, with it, aware.
And then along comes a serious health scare
seemingly out of nowhere
and I’m feeling a bit square,
not so tuned in
and with it
and aware
because when I got word
that we could maybe
bring this deadly disease
to its knees
by wearing masks
and not getting too
close to each other
and washing our hands frequently,

Read the full article → 9 comments

Sports and Politics Mix Together Quite Nicely If You Ask Me

July 22, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

There are a lot of folks who are complaining about black athletes drawing attention to Black Lives Matter, saying “Politics and sports don’t mix.”

Have to say that’s news to me since, in our country’s history, particularly, if black athletes didn’t confront the racism inherent in our society and in our politics, there would have been very little notice of a people’s struggle to achieve equality.

I think back to July 4, 1910. On that day Jack Johnson, an African American, entered the ring in Reno, Nevada to face Jim Jeffries, the “Heavyweight champion of the world,” in the “Fight of the Century.”

J

Read the full article → 1 comment

Jiving Kids by Reopening Schools Just Would Not Be Cool

July 14, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

The orange faced man in the White House is talking about reopening schools and, in my way of thinking, that just would not be cool.

Jiving aka bullshitting children is something we should never do and opening their schools would be saying to them that everything is cool.

It seems like my work in this area is not yet done as I spent 37 years in San Diego City Schools opposing shining young folks on.

It wasn’t my intention to take on such a task when I began teaching. It was something that came to me out of the blue one day back in the early 60’s when my sixth graders and I were sitting at a school assembly.

A South African exchange student from a high school nearby had us literally “oohing and aahing” as she showed us slides of breathtaking mountains and glistening coastlines and splendid waterfalls and forests and deserts and grassy savannas.

Read the full article → 2 comments

Freestyling My Thoughts on a July Afternoon

July 10, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Life a bit crazy,
hazy,
spacy,
racy.
Like looking at reality
through a grease spattered
kitchen screen,
trying to make sense
of a wide scope of happenings,
white dudes
thinking they’re supreme,
possessing superior genes,
spelled j-e-a-n-s,
if you get my drift
and know what I mean.

Read the full article → 6 comments

Lift Every Voice and Sing

July 6, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I remember days when Mr. Sydney Dawson, one of my two favorite teachers, would raise his baton and we, the Dunbar Junior High Chorus, the best in the city of Tucson, would stand tall and proud and sing the Black National Anthem out loud, ending with:

“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on ’til victory is won”

That song, one I’ve never heard anyone sing but black people, has kept us afloat, kept us scratching and crawling and marching, pursuing a victory that perpetually has seemed both elusive and out of reach. Much like a fantasy.

And then I look up one day and I hear a man on ESPN say that at all the opening games of the next NFL season, the game will begin with the words “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the opening line of my anthem, and I thought I was in an nonparallel universe. As this seemed so out of sync with reality.

Read the full article → 8 comments

Keeping the Legacy Going

June 25, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

In these times of social distancing and isolating I’ve managed to still find something to celebrate. Like high school graduations.

I take my hat off to a brilliant descendant of mine, Alonzo (A.J.) Morgan, my great-grandson, who just moved his tassel from the right to the left at San Diego’s Lincoln High.

And I’m particularly proud that he’s following my path by accepting an athletic scholarship at my alma mater, the University of Arizona in Tucson, my hometown. Sixty-four years after me.

Different sport, though. I played basketball during my college days and he’s going to make his way on the gridiron.

We, however, both played each other’s sport. I could cut a figure on a football field and he can play some hoops – and we both have played a number of other sports. But we both dedicated time and effort to our favorite sport, the one we wanted to really excel in.

I can’t even begin to express how stoked I am in his decision to go to my school.

Read the full article → 6 comments

‘A Nose Is a Nose …’

June 16, 2020 by Ernie McCray

Ewww!

by Ernie McCray

Lately I’ve found myself saying “Ewww!” a lot.

It began over a week ago on a nice easy summer day.

I was reading a great book and two young friends of ours were painting our hallway.

An odor suddenly enters the room. It’s weak at first, and then it blows me away. I mean it was like a farting contest was going on in my nose between contestants who had trained by eating pots full of spoiled pinto beans.

In those moments I wondered:

“Is there a broken sewer in the neighborhood?”

“Did someone dump a truck load of rotten eggs in the backyard?”

“Is a dinosaur decomposing in the canyon our house is in?”

I thought I heard someone walking in the patio and I almost asked “Hey, is that you, Pepe Le Pew? Pig-Pen?”

Read the full article → 2 comments

Why I Preach to the Choir

June 10, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

It’s been said
that I preach to the choir
and I pretty much do
day after day,
hour after hour
as the choir
is composed of
my allies,
those who hear
and understand my cries,
eager to eradicate
our country’s
original and everlasting sin:
racism.
Besides who else am I to
preach to other than them?
Yahoos in Klan robes?
Homophobes?
MAGA folks
who bow to a cretin

Read the full article → 12 comments

It Seems George Floyd May Not Have Died in Vain

June 1, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

It’s scary looking out on our streets right now as pent up rage is released, causing fires and looting and rubber bullets being shot and tear gas deployed.

But in the scene I see more and more white folks than I’ve ever seen fighting for what is right, joining the struggle for liberty and justice for all, and it’s a pretty sight to see: a sight I’ve dreamed of and lived for all my life.

Finally. After centuries of supremacists perpetrating horrible unforgiveable crimes against black humanity, with very little outrage expressed by their communities, they’ve now seen something that’s cut through their compliance with how the country has treated black people, and this has bothered them deeply.

Read the full article → 9 comments

It’s Way Past Time to Honor the Golden Rule

May 28, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I’ve been getting a few memes on my Facebook feed kind of around the theme that “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

Such a sentiment makes me shudder as people right now, who are way overburdened with a situation brought on by a deadly virus, are dying left and right all around us and all around the world.

I’m not religious but I was raised in a home with people who were religious to the bone, two of the truest Christians I’ve ever known: my mother, a soulful gospel piano playing woman who played for our church’s choir, and her father, my grandfather, a man who had sailed several seas and honored his Lord as easily as he breathed.

But their faith was reflected, less on cutesy Bible verses and the like, and more on just being respectful of their fellow human beings and giving way more than they received.

Read the full article → 4 comments

Time to Make Our Nation True to its Colors

May 19, 2020 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Oh, these hair-raising
misguided
shortsighted
folks
waving their
red, white, and blue flags
and wearing their red, white, and blue
caps and hats,
and red, white and blue
tennis shoes,
on the news,
unmasked and
confused and unglued,
packing heat,
singing the blues
because they can’t
do whatever
they want to do,

Read the full article → 6 comments