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.

We’ve Got a Long Haul, If We Really Want Liberty and Justice for All

November 30, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

“Liberty and Justice for All.”
That just might be America’s biggest lie
of all.
I mean
a young man,
a White teen,
with a rifle
that looks like
an AR-15,
appears on a scene
where people,
in spite
of some folks
acting crazy and obscene,
were peacefully
chanting and singing,

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Showing Love for the Children Down Mexico Way

November 22, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Oh, I love
what the county
of San Diego
did on
a beautiful Southern California
matching such beauty
by tending to the needs of children
who live south
of the border
down Mexico way,
providing them
with their first shot
of a vaccine

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We All Need to Get Back to Our African Roots

November 16, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I sometimes think of Africa.
Where we humans began.
In the beginning
dark of skin.
Existing back then
like kin,
sisters and brothers
depending on each other
for survival,
gathering seeds together,
dining on fruits
and nuts,
flowers, bark, insects
and leaves together,
becoming hunters

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It’s More About Us and the Children Than Mark Z

November 8, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

When I look at this situation with Mark Zuckerberg hosting harmful bits of misinformation on his social media brands, Facebook and Tik Tok and Instagram, I think of the children who’re watching us, “We the People,” pretty much leave this problem up to him.

And, yeah, this non-caring billionaire should do something to alleviate this state of affairs but I don’t like the picture our children are seeing of us not doing much about these circumstances ourselves – since the PCs, through which we receive so much news that deceives, also allow us to get the skinny about things: the facts.

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A Video Regarding the Direction I’d Like to See the World Go

October 25, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

The other day,
in my backyard
on my patio,
I got to read a poem,
and say a few things
on a video,
regarding the direction
I’d like to see the world go.
Young folks,
my favorite folks,
were in the back of my mind
as I spoke,

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Video: Ernie McCray on Looking Forward

October 22, 2021 by Ernie McCray

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Ernie McCray Recites His Poem ‘Rapper Mellow’s Epiphany of Love and Hope’

October 14, 2021 by Ernie McCray

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A Dream Like My Daydreams

October 14, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I had such a lovely dream the other night.

A dream where I sat amongst beauty during a sunset.

When the sun slowly drifted over the horizon the visions began, the first one featuring a young Black man.

He was about 18 and he moved down the street, bopping and nodding to a beat coming from his earpiece, with White people all around him paying no more attention to him than anybody else on the street.

I mean everybody is perfectly at ease, no grabbing of purses like he might be a thief; nobody at the ready to call the police.

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Dunbar: A Grand Old School Was She

October 12, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I just ran across an article about an old friend from when I was growing up in Tucson.

Among so many things I found interesting in the piece was something he said about a place I hold dear:

Dunbar. The “Colored” school.

He said: “I’m sorry I didn’t get a good education.”

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What Would Seem to Me to Be Very ‘Pro-Life’

September 20, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I see the “Pro-lifers”
in the abortion conversation
with all their
“It Kills Children”
giving no
in their frustration,
that they really care about children
by any stretch of the imagination,

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Reflections Rising from My History with Arizona Football

September 13, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I’d been anticipating the football game between the University of Arizona Wildcats, my hometown team, and the San Diego State Aztecs, my adopted town’s team.

My alma mater got creamed: 38 to 14. Oh, well, if they’ve got to lose to somebody it might as well be to a team I almost love as much as I do them.

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9/11 Changed No Views of Mine About the World

September 9, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Recently the UT asked readers to react to where we were on 9/11 and wanted to know what went through our minds that day, and how that changed our view of the world.

I had no response because 9/11 didn’t change my view of the world as much as it validated how I see the world.

My first thought after seeing the second plane crashing into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was “Oh! Oh! The Pentagon is going to do something real crazy in retaliation for this!” That assumption was based on a lifetime of observing our country when it’s pissed.

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People Who Make Me Feel a Wonderful World

September 7, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

As the dental surgeon prepared me for a procedure, a mellow rendition of “What a Wonderful World” played in the background.

On a violin. What a nice sound.

When I awoke the music kept playing in my mind. Evoking memories of Louie, the great Mr. Armstrong, Satchmo, singing this song, capturing so much beauty with lines about “trees of green” and “red roses” and “skies of blue and clouds of white” and “bright blessed days” and “dark sacred nights” and “the colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky.”

As Maria drove us home, I basked in the mood Louie had me in with his images of loveliness.

And I remembered, too, lyrics in the song that spoke to the beauty inherent in human beings, “friends shaking hands saying, ‘How do you do?’”

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Vaccinations Are All About ‘One for all, and All for One’

August 18, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

So, only 60% of us Americans are vaccinated to protect ourselves and everybody else from the ravages of Covid-19?

That’s a sad scene.

Know what I mean?

That’s telling a killer virus to just do its thing.

And Covid, bound by rules set down by Mother Nature (remember her?) has no choice but to run free – which it is doing incredibly, spreading like a wind fueled prairie brush fire, giving into Mother Nature’s propensity, every now and then, for thinning human populations.

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Black Thespians, Tellers of Their People’s Stories

August 12, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I think of
the Black thespians
of old
like minors
shaking ore
in water
panning for gold,
the top grades
from what might be “fool’s gold,”

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Simone Biles Showed What It’s Like to Be a Caring Human Being

August 2, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Some are saying that
Simone Biles is
a “national embarrassment”
who “quit on her team,”
when the truth is
she’s a
superbly talented gymnast
who, for years,
has mesmerized
the world
with dazzling routines
an array
of twists and turns and flips
that seem to defy
the laws of physics,

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Thoughts Prompted by a Book by a Hollywood Star

July 27, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I’m thinking about Frank Cruz.

He’s an old junior and senior high classmate of mine who wrote a book, a memoir, Straight Out of Barrio Hollywood, a nice story of his journey from “the other side of town” in Tucson to co-founding Telemundo, a television network that broadcasts nationally and across the sea.

Before he pulled that off, he was a much loved and highly appreciated college professor of Chicano History and a well-known L.A. TV personality. A true transition from Barrio Hollywood, a Tucson ghetto, to “Hollywood” where the stars glow.

I felt so proud to have known him as I read of his accomplishments, the significant news he covered, and the celebrated names he dropped.

I couldn’t help but think of how he and I, in 1951, were part of our hometown’s history, how we ended up at the same school when Tucson desegregated its campuses. Before then Latinos, Mexican Americans, in Frank’s neighborhood were considered White although they were treated otherwise.

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A Book that Influenced Me: ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’

July 21, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Since the age of three every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way as I’m very much an empathizer.

But no book has resonated with me more than Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

As I absorbed his words I felt as though he was writing directly to me. I mean his declaration that education systems were designed to produce passive non-critical thinking learners, especially those relegated to the lower classes in our society, validated my very thoughts as an educator, making me feel not so alone in a school district that was standardized to its very core.

My man, Paulo, let me know that I was on to something as I indulged my students with notions of justice, wanting them to know how their country operates so they could transform it.

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Hey, America, Stop Tampering With Our Right to Vote

July 19, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I’ve so had it with
your evil ways,
especially the way
you make us Black folks
slave away
to just prevent you
from taking our right to vote away,
ad nauseam.

And what pisses
me off the most
about this is

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Music Tells My Story

July 12, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

“What musical artist do you resonate with the most and you feel best tells your story?” was a question posed on Facebook.

I could never answer that with one choice, as there are so many singers and instrumentalists on the list of artists who have, at least, accompanied if not told my story over time.

Billie Holiday immediately comes to mind. Hers was one of the first voices other than my mother’s and my dad’s that I can remember hearing.

I was but a child but the sound of her voice as she sang, that sadness and raspy-ness, touched me all over, and melted into my very being, matching what I, even though I was in my infancy, was already sensing intuitively about the world I had been born into near the end of the 30’s.

Loved me some Andrews Sisters, too, their boogie woogie melodies and jitterbugging and jaunty harmonies that led to harmonizing being one of my favorite things to do.

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Friend Thoughts

July 7, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I see so many memes on social media about “fake friends” as opposed to “true friends.”

They’re posted as warnings by folks who apparently aren’t doing well in the friend department.

I usually just glance at them but this one caught my eye the other day: “Pay close attention to those who don’t clap when you win.”

And I found myself saying out loud: “Come on, now. Really?” I should focus on somebody who doesn’t care diddly-squat about me when I’ve got friends who wish the world for me?

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Some Critical Thinking About Race

July 1, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

It never ceases to amaze me how we Americans continue to resist discussing the number one problem in our country ever since it came to be: racism.

That resistance has never been more evident than when San Diego City Schools decided to provide students with ethnic studies and anti-racism education and some parents freaked out and decried having CRT, “critical race theory,” taught to their children.

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Remembering Marv

June 21, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Lost my favorite teammate
of all time:
Marv Dutt.
We haven’t, over the years,
kept in touch
but I have fond memories
of how he could,
no matter what,
get the ball to me
with that instinct
great passers have
of rewarding you
as long as you keep
moving to a great
spot on the floor to be.

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Time to Question the Militarization of Our Children

June 17, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

When we say to a veteran or to someone active in the military, “Thank you for your service” what are we thanking them for?

I ask this question for the children’s sake, for the many teenage warriors, fresh out of high school, who find themselves off somewhere in a land, that was never mentioned in their schooling, “making a difference.”

I mean after World War II came to an end, has there been any real reason for our country to be involved in war?

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An Invite to STILL, WE RISE

June 14, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

We, being my people,
Black folks.
Folks out here
living lives of
forever trying
to just be Americans,
so to speak.
But, hey,

And STILL, WE RISE happens to be a show of poetry and jazz that I put together with some friends: actor extraordinaire,

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A Retraction

June 4, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I owe an apology to L. Todd Wood.

I wrote about an article he had written in my recent OB Rag piece, “Wishing a Classmate Would Say ‘No to Racism.’”

His essay was sent to me via email by a high school classmate of mine who, as I wrote, is always trying to prove me wrong regarding race issues Black people face in America.

Apparently, my old school chum added information at the end of Wood’s writing that wasn’t the author’s.

Now, Mr. Wood wrote a lot about Black people that was alarming and concerning to me but he hadn’t written any of the things that I attributed to him after I wrote that he had brought “his rant to an end with an assessment of the benefits to our society if Blacks suddenly upped and left.”

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Wishing a Classmate Would Say “No to Racism” 

June 2, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

I got an email from an old high school classmate that read: “Here’s a really good look at the problem of race in America today” in reference to an essay written by L. Todd Wood.

I seriously doubted that it would be a “good look” at racial matters as my old school chum finds pleasure, for some reason, in sending me articles that “prove” how Black people go about trying to fit into American society in the “wrong way” – and every way we try is the wrong way.

But I read the writing anyway, a bit curious as to what an ex-special forces helicopter pilot with a degree from the Air Force Academy had to say. And right-away I could see where this man was heading

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An Out of This World Moment with Steph Curry

May 27, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

The other day
I was distracted
the troubles of the world,
via the NBA,
in a glorious way,
watching Steph Curry
to break free
underneath his basket,
looking for a quick score
instead of getting
to where he’d need to be

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America Not Racist?

May 17, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

To the premise at America is not racist
I can hear my mother say
“You could have fooled me”
with all that
sweeping and dusting
and mopping
she did at AT&T
with her Howard University
college degree,
around 66 years
after slavery,
Jim Crow
then at the helm
of Black folk’s
not mattering,
a complaint
still alive today
in the USA.

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Feeling Langston

May 11, 2021 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

Feeling Langston.
Mr. Hughes.
Feeling how he could piece together
a rhyme
that gives you the blues
or string a line of words
as the floral taste
of late summer
Black folk’s hearts
like a bird,
once caged,

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