Ernie McCray: White Power (The missing link to “Liberty and Justice for All”)

Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray

EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Tucson High School and University of Arizona basketball standout Ernie McCray is a legendary figure to Tucsonans and Wildcat fans. McCray, who holds the Wildcats’ scoring record with 46 points on Feb. 6, 1960, against Cal State-Los Angeles, is the first African-American basketball player to graduate from Arizona. McCray, who now resides in San Diego, earned degrees in physical education and elementary education at Arizona. He is a longtime educator, actor and activist in community affairs in the San Diego-area. He wrote a blog for before the site ceased current-events operations earlier this year. He agreed to continue offering his opinion and insight with about Arizona Wildcats athletics. McCray also writes blogs for

Now, that the Ferguson Grand Jury has, after being shamelessly and overtly manipulated by the prosecutor’s office, freed Darren Wilson from having to go to court for taking Michael Brown’s life, we black folks find ourselves, in our grief, holding the obligatory “race card” in spades, if you will.

We have no other card to play since we know, from what we’ve seen, over time, that a white boy would not likely lose his life in a scenario featuring cigarillos. Anybody who thinks otherwise must not have been listening to the part in the fiasco where it was said that this cop saw our young brother as a “demon” and saw his neighborhood as “hostile,” neither of which is a crime. But Michael is dead. What a downright shameful reality.

That leads me to the topic of “power.” Darren Wilson had the power to do a number of things, get out of the way, billy club Michael across the knees or shoot him in the knees, if we’re to believe he was in “the kind of danger” that was highlighted in the Grand Jury report. But he chose to use the power he held over a boy’s life to take his life. What a ghastly abuse of power.

As I drove my car, taking care of a few errands the day after this mockery of “liberty and justice for all,” I was teary eyed throughout much of the drive, and more tears fell the next day. Not the kind of crying, though, that makes you an emotional wreck, with your shoulders shaking and your mouth quivering and your heart literally wracked with pain — no, my tears were of the soft variety, stemming simply from me wondering just how much more of this ongoing, never-ending hatred for my people am I to see before I exit the planet.

(Flickr Creative Commons Photo)

(Flickr Creative Commons Photo)

As though it’s not enough that justice wasn’t served in this case, there are now people out and about who set aside this tragedy, in a heartbeat, and began directing their energy to condemning the looters and blockers of highways, and the like, as stupid idiots, as though the rage that has been seething in a cage inside of people doesn’t need someplace to explode. Well, these people are not alone in not condoning such behavior as we protesting kind of folks agree with them, but the media hardly showed the peaceful demonstrations that took place on the streets of several cities throughout the country. Many citizens, as a result, missed an opportunity to see what it looks like when grievances are conducted in adherence with the proper techniques of civil disobedience. Oh, the lack of humanity in this, the 21st Century.

Channel 6 (San Diego) television interviewed me at a gathering of complainants in City Heights, in east San Diego, two nights after the Grand Jury Hoax in Ferguson. As I shared sad memories of injustices from my past 76 years involving the killing of unarmed black boys, and talked about how in step I was with this generation’s demonstrators, some white young men driving by in a shiny white car shouted clearly and loudly and proudly: “White Power!”

White Power! What the hell was that about? What is that to shout at people who are lamenting that a boy has been killed needlessly? What were they really trying to say?

What’s so sad is that those young guys, so filled with their white pride, are the missing link needed to make our country the great nation it could truly become. There’s so much room for them in the struggle for equal rights, but they have the idea that the privileges they enjoy, that allow them to go around all chesty like they’re the bees knees, are due to their smarts and their hard work.

I wish they could just understand that all they have is not naturally due to their stick-to-it-iv-ness or their pluck or their intelligence, but has been available to their race for centuries. Their advantages in our society have been theirs to relish since the enslavement of blacks and the forced relocation of Native-Americans and the opening of doors to our country to “free white persons” only, all of which segued into the Jim Crow era and so on and so on…

If they joined the peaceful struggles in the streets and the mobilizing of people to address the needs of those who are mis-treated in our country, a better life could be had for all.

And, in such an environment, a white child born today would come to see themselves as no better or no less than anyone else and then we could deal with what has us all by the juevos – the power structure. The fat cats at the top of the pack. Some generation, hopefully very soon, will have to understand that people are going to have to join forces to protect themselves from these people’s wicked games, their wars and their fascination with owning everything lock stock and barrel. Because We the People give into them we’re left fighting among ourselves for what little is left of the social and economical and political pie to be had. We become so busy being screwed that we don’t take time to care if there are some among us who are being treated grossly unjustly.

So if all our citizens are ever going to enjoy being equal to others in our nation and feel that justice is theirs, then white power is going to have to join with black power and brown power and red power and yellow power… I’m talking “Power of the People.”

if race relations continue in the future as they are today, there will be no way a better world can be created. It’s going to take everybody’s efforts, in a spirit of love, as that has been the spirit in which struggles for civil and human rights have taken place. All we’ve ever wanted from these movements is equality. Justice.

There have always been white people who have joined others in their quests to be treated fairly in a free society but there have never been enough. So if all our citizens are ever going to enjoy being equal to others in our nation and feel that justice is theirs, then white power is going to have to join with black power and brown power and red power and yellow power… I’m talking “Power of the People.”

If a white child today is taught to respect all of humanity, that child will have what it takes to contribute to the creation of a better world, a world where someday everyone, no matter their color, will feel free to walk down the street without being at the mercy of someone’s unreasonable fears.

That would be some kind of white power. Wouldn’t it?

Share this post