on the other side

on the other side.png

by DeRay Mckesson



authors’ note


i have not always had the words to describe/unpack/frame the world around me.. none of us have..i have lived more than i can readily process aloud or in text.. sometimes language is not my friend.. not here when i need it..

i started to think that the things i’d lived were not quite real because i didn’t have the words, the phrases, the stories to convey them in anything beyond my mind..  and yet, deep down, i knew that these stories would find life one way or another


language, the tool by which power is initially distributed and redistributed: it is in its hands that we find the gateway to liberation/justice/freedom..

violence was the first language of this country and is still the first language of many people.. but it doesn’t have to be the language we teach our children or whose tempo guides our steps..

1 – on hope


it was in losing the fear of death that i began to understand faith and hope..

faith is the belief that certain outcomes will happen and hope the belief that certain outcomes can happen.. faith is rooted in certainty; hope  in possibility..  and they both require their own diff kinds of work


the danger in believing in the inevitability of change cannot be overstated.. (as in waiting for things to change)


protest is the work of hope,. protest at its core is telling the truth in public. it is confrontation and disruption rooted in the acknowledgment of a fate that has not yet come, but that is possible..


we are fighting to bring about a world that we have not seen before.. we have never seen a world of equity, justice and joy… we are trying to create something altogether new.. t.. and it is impossible to create something new in the absence of hope

something not yet tried ie: a story

2 – how am i supposed to respond to murder


we will never get to the other side of freedom if we accept the trauma as a feature and not a flaw of this world


there is an earn/deserve paradigm when it comes to resource allocation.. it is a commonly held belief that poc or poor people have not actually earned health care, housing, access to equitably funded public ed.. and so forth.. the attainment of these things, the argument goes, is a function of effort, or intelligence of decision making.. all things that these groups supposedly lack

racism, the belief that one race is inherently less valuable than others, is rooted in an imbalance of power..


the closer one’s proximity to power, the greater one’s sense of entitlement to that power

3 – the problem of the police


(on policing.. but so to about ed .. et al) indeed this is not about individual people. it’s about a system, an institution, that is responding in ways that don’t actually make sense for the people they purport to serve..t

4 – bully and the pulpit

5 – the choreography of whiteness


whiteness is seemingly so ubiquitous that it appears to be invisible. this is why understanding white privilege is important. it is the act of seeing the seemingly invisible..

it is the work of white people to undo whiteness..


i do not say this to suggest that people of color have no role.. we do. but we will never undo an idea so insidious alone. it begins w white people unpacking and acknowledging that the system is designed for and benefits them in ways that are solely based on their whiteness… not on any attribute that they possess as individuals – thesis what we call white privilege..

begs a system that just looks at cure ios city.. of all the voices (as it could be)


to recognize the original harm is not the same as repairing it, though repair is, of course, impossible w/o recognition..

is repair possible..?

moten abolition law..

a nother way.. back to our undisturbed ecosystem‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’


(james baldwin) – never to extend the idea of domination, but rather to change the conception of power itself..

power ness

indeed, we must end the idea of domination as an organizing principle in society..t

audre lorde: ‘we cannot fight old power in old power terms only. the only way we can do it is by creating another whole structure that touches every aspect of our existence, at the same time as we are resisting’

ie: 2 convers.. as infra

because what we need most is the energy (not some dominating power) of 7bn alive people


the difficult part of white guilt for white people is that it forces them to reckon w their past.. it often pushes people to focus so much on personal transformation, however, that they forget that there is a large system that led to their personal advantages..

we can do better than this deray.. we need to get to the root of our humanity problem.. b&w ness is a symptom


we know that the avg white hs grad earns more than the black college grad

so.. let’s audre lorde it and disengage from ie: school and work for pay and money.. measuring/labeling things.. no..?

there’s a nother way


they aren’t simply worthy because they are human, because they are alive..

yeah.. let’s just base life on that.. to get to the energy of 7bn alive people

nationality: human


whiteness is an idea and a choice. we can choose differently. we can intro new ideas to replace it.. we have the tools to build something altogether anew

indeed.. ie: tech as it could be..

6 – i was raised by magic


i knew storm. i knew everything about her that i could know from cartoons, which was admittedly less than i would’ve known had i been into comic books as a child. i knew she was a goddess.. i knew how she had the power to control the elements but never let that power drown out the power of her peers


storm taught me how to imagine .. so did prof x .. so did rogue.. i learned how to believe in things that seemed impossible.. how teams worked, how decisions were made, and that magic was not only possible but real.. i learned how to live beyond the constraints – just like they did..

so much of what trauma does to us is trap us in the present; it traps us in its constraints.. we often see the limitations all around us because we need to see them in order to survive.. not to see them would be deadly.. .. but storm? storm didn’t live in a world w those constraints. and for 30 min each weekend, neither did i


there is an industry that exists to id the constraints, and then there are a smaller set of people who understand constraints as the result of choices and not as permanent fixtures. and this smaller set of people generally tends to have less influence than they should

consider mass incarceration. i think 3 things will always remain true: 1\ there will always be rules  2\ there will always be people who break the rules  3\ there will always need to be some form of consequences

or a song..


when i say rules.. i mean standards that communities set as norms. and when i say consequences, i mean a structured or standardized response to the breaking of said rules..

now, everything else is open to change..  we should have more public convos about how to enforce the rules.. to be sure, some people may need to be separated from society as a consequence of their behavior, but if rehabilitation is the goal of any period of separation, then it should not look like solitary

solitary  – incarceration

so much of the work of bringing about a better world will be rooted in us seeing that something else is possible..t

a nother way book


when we talk about freedom, however, we are forced to imagine it, because we have not yet lived in a time where we’ve experienced it.. t

huge.. not yet..

krishnamurti free will law

we must remember that if there is a shared burden on the part of those who want a better future, it is the burden that we all have to imagine our world, to think about what it should and can be.. t


imagine an infra so that we can all .. ongoingly.. imagine it.. ie: rev of everyday liferevolution in reverse;.. via 2 convers.. as infra

so when people ask me why the political right is so good at messaging, i remind them that it isn’t so much that they’re good at messaging, but that their message is rooted in familiar iconography (make america great again).. it is nostalgia writ large..

we are trying to bring about something altogether new, an idea that we must collectively but into to make it a reality.. and unfortunately it is easy for ideas to get muddied in translation..

horse of a diff color

think of single payer health care – we have never seen it in this country, so when we’re asked to buy into this new system it requires a lot of imagination..it requires us to envision an entire system and structure that has never exited here..

we can do better.. if we’re imagining something truly different.. and you’re right we have to.. let’s not hold onto man made ills.. ie: money


on the left we have a tendency to veer into squabbles over the image of the future we are fighting for, even when we are essentially fighting for the same thing. and that’s because shared imaginations are difficult to manage..

in order to imagine, esp in the midst of trauma, our work is to name the constraints up front and them ignore them. this will be a challenge because they are often so potent, so present. but we can name and expose our limitations, and then work around them..

gupta roadblock law

maté trauma law

imagination is often thought of as a soft, feel good aspect of the work of justice, but w/o it , we will never win

imagination – beyond winning/losing


the access to resources, the stability of the infra, and the deep sense of moral courage were factors that made the church an important part of the protest landscape in the end, even though they were not the central part of the protest ecosystem


it was in understanding faith better that i came to understand accountability as the quality of one’s adherence to one’s own values, beliefs, and commitments..

i think that there is something particularly powerful about anchoring an idea of victory to a world that has not existed before. it keeps the focus on the possible, on the things that we know to be true but are yet unseen, like freedom

free dom ness


i found faith in the streets and in seeing a set of churches live their commitment to justice

they’ll know.. by our love

i learned more about god and faith in the protests. but storm raised me

7 – taking the truth everywhere


our greatest responsibility in all of politics, then, is active citizenship: protesting, voting, running for office, working to address issues in one’s local community, and so forth

i don’t know.. depends how you define politics.. and how big your imagination is .. i’d say all those listed after your colon are constraints.. irrelevants.. we can do better.. those are part of the old.. american the great .. ness..

there’s a nother way .. sans voting, rep\ing, et al.. mostly because public consensus always oppresses someone(s)


it concerns me that those who decry reform would sacrifice people’s immediate wellbeing while holding out for an ‘ideal’ plan that wouldn’t begin to see returns for half a century – when the communities that need it most today are already dead..

it pains me that we have the means for 7bn to leap to a nother way to live.. and in believing that leaping is the only way for it to be about all of us.. in the most timely manner (as in start now.. 7bn w/in a yearish)

from why leap page:

in believing that equity is everyone getting a go every day.. redefining public education becomes revolution of everyday life.. aka: global equity

and in believing in that equity.. brought about believing in a means for 7 bn people to …. l e a p


for humanity’s sake.. costello screen/service law (basically: unethical to keep saying we’re sick if no mech offering an alternative/healing) ..begs a leap .. via a mech simple enough for 7 bn to use/access today

for urgency’s sake.. graeber model law (basically: can’t train/logic ourselves into another way.. have to model/do/be it) ..begs a leap .. in an system open enough to set/keep 7 bn people free today

for sustainability’s sake..siemens glue law (basically: need something to tie us all together to our sync) .. begs a leap .. via a problem deep enough to resonate with 7 bn people today


politics, the decision making process that helps to shape the way we interact w our communities and vice versa, is necessarily one of compromise, as ideas, experiences, and plans regularly come into conflict w one another.. to assert that politics is compromise is not to suggest that we should ever compromise our core values..

what if it does.. what if the premise of this politics.. ie: decision making.. is compromising our core values.. i’m thinking we need to redefine decision making because again .. public consensus always oppresses someone(s)

today we have the means to be together .. in a nother way


our daily lives are shaped by large systems and structures – from trash collections to stoplights to parking tickets to schools to prisons.. not to engage the people who se

imagine.. if those are all disturbances to our undisturbed ecosystem..

to be sure there is a tension associated w engaging a power structure that we are simultaneously working to change..

perhaps we don’t engage.. perhaps our model/infra.. is to live as if we are already free.. again.. rev of everyday life.. revolution in reverse.. via 2 convers.. as infra


to be radical implies having an idea in juxtaposition to the dominant one. the absence of an idea is not radicalism.. t

it’s also unethical.. no..? ie: costello screen service law

this too is the tension between popular uses of reform and revolution. reform is the realm of immediate change – we put something into action today and see the results tomorrow..


revolution is the idea that there are deep, structural, and systemic choices to be made that will lead to large scale changes..


(on meeting w/bernie sanders): one of the things that caught us by surprise during the convo was when we began to talk about mass incarceration. he suggested that the police were policing black communities disproportionately because the majority of drug users were african american..  the line went silent as we all tried to digest what we’d just head, certain that he had more to say on the matter, but he didn’t..  when is statement became public.. bernie’s team released a response: ‘while i clearly misspoke and had more to learn w regard to the causes of this problem, we all came to the meeting understanding what is absolutely true: the criminal justice system is broken and disproportionately arrests  and jails african american’..


in this meeting i was reminded that even the most well-intentioned political leaders need to be challenged on core issues

8 – i can remember her now w/o sadness


politics is fundamentally about power, and it is always relational – that is, it can only be understood as something between people/systems/interests.. power is the ability to influence the decision making process..

so when we talk about ‘building power’ it is shorthand for two things:

1\ helping people recognize they can influence a given decision making process to achieve a defined goal

missing piece #1 – deciding (aka: talking to self) everyday what you’re curious about.. your fittingness

2\ assembling a critical mass of people who are equipped to act in concert w each other

missing piece #2 find tribe.. via 2 convers.. as infra


what we remember and how we remember it shapes our future, shapes the way we move in the world. and memory is alway a choice..


9 – the friend that’s always awake


in no uncertain terms, twitter saved our lives. if it were not for twitter, the elected leaders in ferguson and in missouri would have tried to convince you that we did not exist, that there were not thousands of us in the street night after night, refusing to be silent..


it’s common to hear talk of social media as a random byproduct of ‘real’ organizing that can only happen offline. it’s a sentiment most commonly expressed by people who simply weren’t there or never experienced the transformative impact that these tolls had on our lives – some of whom purport to speak for a new type of organizing today. we used these tools to enhance our organizing and activism, not as substitutes for either..


when falsehood become accepted thought, there are real consequences for how we understand the world..t

yeah.. ie: black science of people/whales.. huge..


i’ve always thought of twitter as the friend that’s always awake..  like an ever present friend, i was always able to connect to a larger community and, as important, a larger black community.. t

10 – out of the quiet


i had to challenge people around me who demanded otherwise from me.. it was this challenge that led me to tweet, ‘if your love requires that i hide parts of who ai am, then you don’t love m. love is never a request for silence.’


social media became, and is, the place where people come out of the quiet and come together, where the collective power of the whisper is captured.. it was on twitter tha we learned to fight erasure.. in protest, we became the unerased..

our work as organizers is neither to tell the people whispering in the library to shout, nor is it to tell folks to be quiet – our work is to listen better..t

augment interconnectedness.. via listening ie: tech as it could be..

just because people aren’t shouting doesn’t mean that they are being silent.. just because people aren’t showing up in the way we expect doesn’t mean that they are hiding..

we have to remember that we are all of our id’s at once every time

identity ness

11 – on organizing


if building power is simply about people coming together in an effort to id and challenge an injustice and proposing an/or imagining solutions .. then the only thing required is people w a shared vision. indeed, the only constants in organizing are relationships..  it is impossible to org people w whom you have no relationship.. not proximity to the challenges.. to the work being addressed..


jason mogus: organizing is the act of building power; mobilizing is the act of spending the power you’ve built..

sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and seeing the blind spot is the best lesson of all

12 – letter to an activist


i have found that there’s a natural progression from thinking that you are the problem to realizing that the problem is rooted in the world and that you are impacted by it..

grammatis broken law


your curiosity will be your biggest *weapon. curiosity is imaginations’ cousin.. ask all the questions that come to mind. people will want to beat your curiosity out of you, but hold fast..

*not a weapon.. a way of life.. ie: cure ios city


what we need most is the energy of 7bn alive people to get us back/to an undisturbed ecosystem

in the city.. as the day..

via gershenfeld something else law


7 min video

Just caught up with this interview and @DeRay you killed it, don’t remember the last time seeing someone squeeze in so much information in the short amount of time given on t.v. Go support the new book!  https://t.co/bUzUoemB0b

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/dumbfoundead/status/1038720373225734145

6 min – part of the work is to put this back on other people so they have to grapple w/it..ie: guy asked if i thought police should ever kill people.. and i asked him.. when is it ok for the police to kill your child.. he said.. i don’t know.. i said.. i don’t know either..