Do All “Black Lives Matter?”

Two Moms

By Ernie McCray

Damn. One day I’m writing a piece concerning discrimination against lesbians and gays, making a pitch for us to let the now proverbial Adam and Steve or Alanna and Eve feel at ease in just being themselves.

And the very next day, to my dismay, I hear of a little 5-year-old black girl who is kicked out of a school, the Mt. Erie Christian Academy, because she has two moms.

Whoa, right back where I started from. Another story about “beliefs.” Christian beliefs. But I just have to say I can’t see Christ turning some child away from a school with some lame excuse like “The Bible says homosexuality is a sin,” making that little girl, in essence, a victim of her mothers’ sins.   [Read more…]

I Hope We Can Finally Just Let Adam and Steve Be

Marriage Equality

(No Matter What our Beliefs Happen to Be)

This Kim Davis situation is just too familiar for my liking, too much like it has always been in this country based on what I’ve seen in 77 years.

I mean I have no idea what this woman’s work entails in a day. But one of her tasks seems, to me, like a dream job, where all she’d have to do is a little soft shoe with jazz hands and a big smile and sing: “Howdy do. Congratulations, you two. Here’s your marriage license. Toddle-oo!”

But she can only do that for “Adam and Eve.” “Adam and Steve” or any woman whose honey is a she has to be insulted by her for all the world to see because of what her scripture has taught her to believe.   [Read more…]

“Blueprints to Freedom” Made Bayard Rustin Come Alive


By Ernie McCray

I saw “Blueprints to Freedom: an Ode to Bayard Rustin,” at the La Jolla Playhouse a week ago.

I was never so ready for a play to begin as I was that night because Bayard is a huge hero of mine, someone, whose memory, I’ve cherished for a long time.

To me, he was about as outstanding a human being as anyone could be. Ghandi, personified. So tirelessly alive and brilliant and loving and wise, a master as to how to organize, able to gather what he called “angelic troublemakers” together against all kinds of odds, in all kinds of weather. He brought us the moment when Martin envisioned a world, aloud, where “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”   [Read more…]

There are Reasons for Grampy’s Smiley Face

Smiley Face

By Ernie McCray

I just discovered that National Grandparents Day came and went. I don’t know what that’s all about but it’s gotten me thinking about grandparenting.

I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, hanging out with a little two-year old who calls me Grampy and his little sister.

And my mind goes back in time, to August of ’76 when I became a Grampy for the first time. The journey puts a smile on my face. But I was, in no way, grinning when I got the news that I had a grandchild on the way. I mean, I was 38 and my daughter was 19. Chip off the old block it seemed. But, hey, whatcha gonna do?   [Read more…]

How Can We Call Our Country Great When There’s No Equality and Justice for All?

Equal rights and Justice

By Ernie McCray

Donald Trump, on the stump, has been talking about making “America great again.”

And I’m thinking, again? We were great once and that greatness came to an end? When? I mean, I’ve been hearing about how great America is all my life, with no let up.

And I was a believer for a while, with all the fireworks and all. All the parades. All the “Oh say can you see” at the beginning of games and “God bless America” at the 7th inning stretch near the end.

And we love to say “That’s what makes America great” or “Only in America,” especially when some one of us: takes to a stage and makes us cry or laugh or jump up and boogie; gives forth with paintings and sculptures that are pleasing to our souls and our eyes; wins a noteworthy award like the Nobel Peace Prize.   [Read more…]

No Differences Between Bernie and The Donald?


By Ernie McCray

I’ve read comments somewhere out there in social media land that try to put Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the same bag as the perception that there isn’t much difference between democrats and republicans.

Well, I could take both sides of part of that argument but there’s a galaxy of separation between Bernie and The Donald. I mean one’s a progressive minded human being and the other is a narcissistic buffoon.

As to the clown, according to The Atlantic millions of people feel he is the best choice to lead America. Millions more “are motivated by giddyness at the chaotic spectacle of his success” which should involve, it seems to me, adding giddyness to the list of mental illnesses.   [Read more…]

The Day Nancy and I Got Together

Nancy and Me

By Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking about my dearly departed Nancy with August 23rd a day away as I write. It was on that day, in 1975, forty years ago, that I moved in with her, in her little apartment on 24th and Russ, next to Golden Hill Park.

So I find myself celebrating that day, in my thoughts, remembering with a little quiver, what I had to do to start a life with her: break another woman’s heart, my wife, a woman I loved. If I regret anything in life it’s causing her such misery and pain.

But, especially when I look back on it, I was following my destiny, the dictates of my soul, wherein I knew as instinctively as I breathed, that I had no choice, in the cosmos, but to be with Nancy, that the two of us were soul-mates, destined to be together as the stars are meant to be aligned in the sky.   [Read more…]

A Nice Little Trip up Highway 1

At Sierra Mar

By Ernie McCray

Maria and I just got back from San Francisco, my favorite city on the globe, and as far as road trips go, this one was as pleasant as it gets.

The weather was like a gift from Mother Nature herself, an absolute delight, so warm and embracing, featuring cool breezes in the late afternoons and at night.

The trip got underway on the 805, at Governor Drive, then came the merge with I-5, just an hour or so away from the 405, which drops down to the 101 which takes you to Highway 1 for the real fun: a drive alongside the ocean and on cliffs high above it, privy to jaw-dropping views that exhilarate your very soul, your spirituality.   [Read more…]

Thankful That I Have No Regrets Such as These

Living a True Life

By Ernie McCray

The other day I saw a graphic on Facebook titled the “Top Five Regrets of the Dying” and they are:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Oh, how sad to be burdened in one’s last days with regrets such as these. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers such disappointments. I can see how one might regret that he or she didn’t travel more or go for a doctorate degree or blew some opportunity to hit it rich or the like.   [Read more…]

Pride and a Whole Lot of Rain

Pride in the Rain

By Ernie McCray

I will forever remember “The San Diego Pride Parade of 2015,” not just because of it’s history, but for the rain. And I’m talking some serious rain. I mean Mother Nature just flat out let it all hang out.

And there I was, along with hundreds of other waterlogged folks in every kind of colorful regalia known to man, standing and walking and practically treading in that downfall for a good three hours or so. Soaked to the skin and bones!

When my group got the go ahead to march in the puddles and streams and through a “mini-lake” just around the corner, a man said over a microphone “It’s raining on our parade and we’re loving it.”   [Read more…]

Easing Into UC

University City

By Ernie McCray

I’ve lived in Golden Hill/South Park for 40 years. It’s got to be one of the great neighborhoods in the world.

But one of my daughters needed more time away from her work to give her two young ones the kind of start in life she and her husband want for them. So they moved in with me – and I gradually moved in with my sweetheart in University City who came into my life after my wife passed away six years ago.

I love it that those two little precious beings are living in a house where Nancy and I raised their mother and her sister and brother.   [Read more…]

Remembering a Track Star’s Granddad

Thomas, Carl & Me

By Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking about an old departed friend. My best friend. Thomas Ross. Loved the dude although we were dissimilar in some ways. He was stocky and bear-like strong and prone to growl every now and then and I was sinewy and laid back, trying to live life with a grin.

Anyway, he’s been on my mind because his son, Ron, keeps me posted on his grandson, Tavian, who’s got college track coaches salivating to beat the band because the dude recently ran the 400 in forty-seven-point-six seconds (47.60).

Thomas would say to that: “The dude can step, Jack!” He  would be so proud of his progeny. Especially since he’s doing his thing for Tucson High, our old high school.  And, we were pretty decent jocks too. Football. Basketball. All-State and all. Living the life, strutting down the hall, wearing the big red “T.” “Badgers” to the bone!   [Read more…]

Poetry at a Budget Meeting


By Ernie McCray

I had the honor of spending a day with a room full of progressive School Board Members from around San Diego County.

I wasn’t so sure, at first, as the subject was: Budgets. Whenever I got my budget sheets at my schools, it might as well have been expressed in hieroglyphics – I just can’t relate to language like “Total Available Funds minus Total Outgo.” Gives me vertigo.

I was there, though, to kick things off. And in doing that I shared three poems and one went like this:

Our schools now,
at this stage
of a rapidly aging New Century,
are about to introduce
our kids
to the realm of Ethnic Studies…   [Read more…]

Chipping Away at “The Black Problem”

Angela Y

By Ernie McCray

The madness in Charleston, to me, is so much deja vu because blacks being shot or bombed where they worship and pray is not something that’s new here in the USA.

In no way. These atrocities started, practically, when they shoved us off the ships to pick cotton, way, way back in the day.

And where’s a good place to find a lot of us to slay? Church. Makes sense to a hateful evil-minded KKK kind of person who all of a sudden, out of his madness, just can’t stand to see a Negro alive.   [Read more…]

Sweet Memories of Perry Elementary

Perry Elementary

By Ernie McCray

There’s a school that means the world to me: Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary. It’s the first school to which I was assigned after earning a teaching degree.

It was a place of colorful personalities: a teacher who sang opera beautifully and wore a hairpiece that could be identified as a wig immediately; a school nurse with a drawl as southern as any character’s on Hee Haw; a lovely and entertaining secretary who made the school office as funny and lively as The Carol Burnett Show…

It was a place of uncommon camaraderie where we: put potlucks together practically every other week; dined together monthly at fine places to eat; played volleyball after school; partied wildly at the drop of a hat, with lampshades on the head and stuff like that…   [Read more…]

The Planet Earth Is In Your Care (A Letter to the University of Arizona’s Class of 2015)

Earth in Your Care

Dear University of Arizona Class of 2015:

The Alumni Association of our beloved U of A asked past graduates to share words of wisdom with you.

My first thought is to give forth with some lofty advice like “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Now that’s definitely something for you to consider but, due to the troubles in the world facing your generation, you’ve got some serious work to do.   [Read more…]

Being Grateful and Happy and All

By Ernie McCray

Maria recently asked her family and me (a relatively new member of the clan) to look over some questions and maybe talk about them later over a meal.

I took a peek and, regarding the first question, I’m grateful for having reached 77 years of age which, to me, signifies, that I am of the old and the wise, fit, still with it, busting moves everyday. These are “The Good Old Days!”

I’m so grateful to have friends and family to love and to know that they love me back. I’m grateful for my mother and grandfather who, long time ago, got me on the right track.   [Read more…]

“100 Things” on My Mind

By Ernie McCray

I just finished a very pleasant read, “100 Things Arizona Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die,” a book written by two of the best sports writers around, Steve Rivera and Anthony Gimino.

They write a lot about Arizona Basketball History and having played a role in that history, and having been around it all my life, the book couldn’t help but resonate with me in special ways.

In a chapter about University of Arizona traditions I found the words to a fight song that’s flowed through my veins and bones ever since I first heard it as a 14 year old, back in 1952:

Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Bear Down, Arizona
Hit ’em hard, let ’em know who’s who
Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Go, go Wildcats, go
Arizona Bear Down

  [Read more…]

Conversations at the Catfish Club: The Answer is Love

By Ernie McCray

I sat at a Catfish Club luncheon the other day listening to Leon Williams and Reverend George Walker Smith converse about days of yore and their thoughts about today’s world.

Leon was the first black to hold a seat with the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

He spoke of the moments in time when he was into making our city and county governments more inclusive and more service oriented and more respectful of citizens. He touched on the area’s redevelopment movement when neglected communities started getting the attention they deserved and needed and had gone without forever.   [Read more…]

Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

By Ernie McCray

A couple of weeks or so ago I dined with a number of friendly folks at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club forum that asked, concerning Community-Police Relations, “Can we build a safer San Diego together?”

The answer seemed to be “Yeah, we can,” as panelists, in a room where smiles drifted in the air like tissues in a breeze, talked of everyone chipping in to find good cops and of how we all need to shed our various biases, as “Trust is fragile.” And it was good to know that the wearing of “body worn cameras” is going kind of nice.

I drove home convinced that there are some people truly dedicated to making relations better between the police and people they’ve harassed for centuries.

But the Tyrannosaurus Rex sitting smack dab in the middle of the discussion, “racial profiling,” was glossed over as though it was just a slight hiccup in the way of sound relationships between “Mr. Do Right” and angry black folks, rather than it being “The Problem!!!!!!!!!!”   [Read more…]

Helping Young People Discover the ‘Truths’ In Life

By Ernie McCray

I love my life, especially my moments with kids. Recently I had the pleasure, along with a teenage Latina friend of mine, of talking to an assembly of young people, most of them Latino, in Chula Vista, about something they’re confronted with regularly: whether to join or not join the military.

We were doing so because we hate to see our children being sucked into the war machine by Uncle Sam who loves to play with their innocence.   [Read more…]

Joining Spirit with the Billions of Us Human Beings

By Ernie McCray

I was driving and turned my radio to 89.5, KPBS, and there was a conversation going on about “7 Billion Others,” an exhibit that’s opening in the U.S. for the first time – at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA): February 21 to September 13.

I liked what I was hearing and googled around and found, on the MOPA website, 45 questions written for visitors to the exhibit to answer so that they can find in themselves that spark that resides in us all and connects us to the journey of human beings featured in the video project.

My answer to the first question was: Ernest Charles McCray; age 76; retired school principal; widower; American as in United States of America.

Here are my replies to the other questions, based on what first came to my mind:   [Read more…]

A Path Chosen in Black History

By Ernie McCray

When I look back at my own little chapter of Black History, I feel grateful that I found a path that enabled me to survive a society that sought to deny me a life of dignity. I unknowingly set out on this path on my first day of school, when my knuckles were seemingly knocked to kingdom come because I had dozed off, as if I had a choice in a room sizzling at 100 and some degrees with a fan (itself struggling to stay awake) blowing across a pail of water as though that could lower the temperature in that room to any degree. I swear I heard that fan wheeze. Talking Tucson, Arizona, August or September of 1943.

I remember thinking, back then, as I looked at my hands, surprised to see my knuckles still there, “What the hell kind of welcome was that?” And I knew, as much as a five-year old can know such things, that someday I would be a teacher.   [Read more…]