Thoughts From the Soul of the Tucson Kid

Follow Ernie McCray as he writes about his life as an educator, a father, a husband and a civil rights activist. We are blessed to have him here and find inspiration in him and his words.

Elderly Reflections on a Melancholy Day

August 14, 2018 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

You ever have one of those days
when you just
can’t shake your blues
because your soul feels so completely
battered and bruised
and defused and confused
and mis and/or overused,
seeming as though
it will never ever again
be enthused and amused?

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Free at Last! Free at Last! – A Dad’s Reflections of a Life That Was Enough

July 30, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Guy Ernest McCray, my oldest son,
has passed away
and needless to say
that saddens me in
the deepest way.

Yet, at the same time,
knowing the grind
he had in life,
I find myself whispering to the wind
that he is now:
“Free at Last! Free at Last!”

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Building Trust With Police is Like Trying to Assemble a Jigsaw Puzzle

July 17, 2018 by Ernie McCray

A jigsaw puzzle depicting the word "TRUST"

Creating Commission on Police Practices Moves to Full San Diego City Council.

“Trust is the Issue” was one of our rallying cries at the City Council’s Rules Committee meeting last Wednesday, July 11.

And the committee came through, voting 3-2 to pass the idea of creating a Commission on Police Practices on to the full Council.

That sounds hopeful to me but trying to build trust with the police in San Diego, for communities of color, has been like trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle. One with too many pieces – due to years of bad history.

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Malcolm X and Police Accountability on My Mind

July 11, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Photo of Malcolm X poster labeled "NOT FOR SALE"

By Ernie McCray

I attended a meeting the other night at the Malcolm X Library about a proposed Amendment to the City of San Diego Charter to create a Commission on Police Practices.

I couldn’t help but think of Malcolm throughout the evening because he would be pleased at the very idea

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Simply for the Children’s Sake

June 27, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Baby's head witth shadow of Donald Trump

I was singing the blues
until I heard the news
that children
being torn from the
arms of their parents
was coming to an end,
if but for a minute,
a breather
from evil being played
out in my face,
beautiful innocent
brown skinned children,
screaming “Mami! Papi!”
as Mami and Papi
are pulled one way,

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Dreaming of Racial Harmony

June 7, 2018 by Ernie McCray

At 80 I find myself still pursuing the same dream in which I’ve indulged myself all my life, a dream that someday the races of people would get along in harmony. Or at least try.

I say try because it seems to me that it’s been our failure to even pursue such a dream that has gotten in the way of it becoming a reality.

But, I’d dare say, there’s no better time than now for us to find ways to embrace each other. I feel that way just because of how the world is.

I mean you can sit down, after a long day of being retired, and turn on the tv and see a man, on this occasion a representative of the NFL, privileged beyond belief, telling football players (most of them black) that they can no longer protest police brutality at their knees while the flag is being sung to.

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Feeling in Tune With ‘La Neighbor’ and Logan Heights

May 30, 2018 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

I just finished reading a collection of essays, “La Neighbor: A Settlement House in Logan Heights,” written by a longtime friend, Maria Garcia.

Maria and I go back a ways and we’re soulmates in so many ways. We’re writers, and activists, who’ve taken to the streets many a time in the pursuit of equality. We’re educators who modeled, in our schools, how to treat children with respect and

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Reflecting on What Could Have Been

May 22, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Ernie with sunglasses behind screen

 

(Photo: Maria Nieto Senour)

Reflecting on my 80 years I find myself still dreaming of a better world. Not some “Kumbaya” singing fantasy world, but one where people, at the very least, try to find ways to understand and appreciate each other. A loving world.

But that was not the dream of my generation. Getting our hands dirty in pursuit of a world where concepts like “peace and justice and equality” rang true, just wasn’t something we cared to do.

We were called the “Silent Generation”

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Oh, If We Could Listen With Heart Like Nipper

May 9, 2018 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

When I was a child there was a commercial about a dog named Nipper who was supposed to be listening to his “master’s voice” on a windup disc gramophone. I thought about him early one morning recently.

On this morning I woke up a little earlier than usual because my iPhone SE startled me awake, vibrating and buzzing like crazy, kind of like those European police sirens.

And, hey, I’ve got to say I didn’t know I had an app for such as all that. I shut that little device up by grabbing it like a cowboy wrestling a steer he’d just roped only to find out that its histrionics was regarding an article about a book Arizona Senator John McCain had written. I was forced to question the very notion that I was in possession of anything approaching a smartphone.

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Putting My Love in Play

April 25, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Man holding a stained glass heart

Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

I recently wrote a rhyme about all the love I’ve enjoyed for 80 years, and now I’d like to share how I’ve put that love in play.

Regarding that, I have to say that loving has been easy for me because my life’s work has been dedicated to schools which are perfect places for spreading love.

And my intent, all along, has simply been to make my world more just for all human beings – beginning, in a moment in time, when I was in grade school myself.

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Still Loving After All These 80 Years

April 17, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Still Loving After All These 80 Years
(The Formative Years: More to Come)

Infant sitting on table next to birthday cake with one candle

If I’m breathing April 18th, 2018,
I will be 80 years old.
And to brag a little bit,
I lived those years
with a lot of love in my soul
and that’s quite an ac-com-plish-ment
for someone with
COLORED written on his birth cer-ti-ficate
if the truth be told,
considering I first said “Hello”
to the world
in Tucson, Arizona,

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Overcoming Gloom In a Grand Canyon State of Mind

March 21, 2018 by Ernie McCray

View of Grand Canyon from the rim

By Ernie McCray

Overcoming Gloom In a Grand Canyon State of Mind

The other day

I sat in my living room

caught up in thoughts of my daughter,

feeling a kind of gloom

that seemed to loom

over me

like a petrifyingly dark full moon

in a horror movie

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An Email to NewsManager@FoxNews.com

February 27, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Laura Ingraham’s put down of LeBron James on your network was so out of line and unnecessary and ridiculously insulting and dismissive. What does his grammar have to do with anything or his perceived “lack of education”? Why should he, in a country where he has the right to express himself, “Shut up and dribble”?

As a 79-year-old black man, it’s refreshing for me to see young black people like this great athlete speak out on what’s happening in the world — in this case, expressing his views on our president — who really “doesn’t give a fuck about the people” as he pointed out.

The “people” being those who don’t support his hateful, racist, mysogynist, sexist, xenophobic, abusive, disgraceful, dictator-loving, ill-informed, unintelligent, illogical, jingoistic, bewildering, divisive, predatory, blow-harded, clownish, non-Christian,

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Surviving 2017 – Looking Like a Palm Tree Bent Over By the Wind

January 15, 2018 by Ernie McCray

Lone slightly leaning palm tree in grassy plain, cloudy skies, mountain range in distance

I am so glad to say “Good riddance” to 2017 because it was a bit unearthly to me.

I mean, on top of being barraged by all the abject buffoonery in D.C. that was unleashed by that fool who occupies the presidency, I had to go around most of the year looking like a palm tree bent over by the wind.

All due to some life-threatening vicious form of bacteria that found its way into my body and started whacking away like a field hand taking a machete to the stems of sugarcane, devastating my belly and tightening and weakening my muscles, making an absolute wreck of my lifelong bad back. It made standing and walking upright kind of an aerobic exercise that took all my might.

And let me tell you, trying to struggle to get your health back in a world that’s out of whack isn’t easy by any means.

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A New Years Wish for My People

December 29, 2017 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I dream a New Years Wish for my fellow black brothers and sisters, one steeped in my yearning for a country that truly is committed to the mythical land of “liberty and justice for all” we Americans pledge loudly and proudly in classrooms and public gatherings.

I just wish we actively pursued such ideals.

Now, I realize that we, like all other “individual” citizens of the country, can rise and shine and fulfill the loftiest of hopes and dreams.

We can find ample proof of that in our history as we’ve accomplished a little of everything. We’ve won Nobel Peace Prizes and journeyed beyond earth’s skies into outer space.

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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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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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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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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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