DeRay McKesson, 32, Civil Rights Activist
Blackness in the future to me is beyond survival.
When I think about freedom, it is not only the absence of oppression but the presence of justice and joy. What I see is blackness where justice and joy are things that are normal, commonplace and that are part of the fabric of the world we live in.
To get to this future we can begin to imagine and think about what a world with equity and justice actually looks. We can also tear down the bad things — like ending mass incarceration and closing the racial wealth gap.
But the absence of the bad things doesn’t mean that the good things will just emerge. We have to build the good things.
What does it mean to imagine a world and build it? That’s not easy. I think that will be the hardest challenge.
To build that world you should begin where you are in the work. For me, I’m most focused on the racial wealth gap and mass incarceration. Those are the two entry points. I think those are the biggest levers. They would have the biggest impact on people’s lives at the structural level.
When I am looking for inspiration, I go to Bayard Rustin’s writing. His writing is crisp, his ideas are clear, and he keenly grappled with the big questions and the practical solutions. And there are other people in a sense where the writing is really flowery and as a result the idea is lost in the prose. For Rustin’s work, the idea is always so central. A focus on a hope that is rooted in strategy, that’s what I think about when I think of him. A hope rooted in strategy, is like the difference between hope as magic and hope as work.
Hope isn’t magic, hope is work.
DeRay's Revolutionary Picks:
When I am looking for inspiration, I go to Bayard Rustin’s writing. His writing is crisp, his ideas are clear, and he keenly grappled with the big questions and the practical solutions.