iamderay iamderay

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deray mckesson  deray@thisisthemovement.org // Activist. Organizer. Teacher. Author, On The Other Side of Freedom — get it today!

honored to have been painted by @krishnabalashenoi.

ready. focused. let’s go.

I visited the Memorial To The Murdered Jews of Europe today in Berlin and I’ll never forget it. I was reminded that it was more than Germany that participated in the genocide of the Jewish people — there were several complicit countries.

I took pictures of some of the last letters from one of the exhibits. Their words left me speechless.
Evil becomes easy when we dehumanize people. We can’t let evil become easy like this again.

I’ve been in Germany with @verainstitute visiting prisons to learn about their approach to mass incarceration. I’ve been to the largest male prison in Hamburg, one of the women’s facilities in Berlin, and two juvenile prisons — one in Berlin and one in Hamburg. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. A life sentence in Germany is generally 15 years. It can be extended but 15 years is the standard when people here talk about “life.” 2. The doors for inmates are solid, with no windows into the rooms. This is due to Germany’s privacy laws which extend to inmates.
3. The majority of people in prisons & jails are immigrants. And there are almost no staff who speak multiple languages.

4. The largest prison in Hamburg had 40 guards for 800 inmates, guards carry no weapons, and inmates are padlocked in their rooms at night due to the low staff ratio.

5. Anyone who is incarcerated is barred from working in many civil servant roles later, including being a teacher.

6. One of the women’s prisons had a needle exchange within the prison walls, as they acknowledged that drug use happens inside and they want people to use safely.

I’m still processing. But these are the things that I’ve seen thus far. They’ve done wonders on statutory reform, they have work to do on conditions, experiences, and resources.

#CultureCon was such a beautiful experience. You know, black folks make the culture and being around so many folks dedicated to understanding our collective power was something I’ll always keep with me. It was great to meet @taylorrooks, reconnect with Coleman, and see @danielpcalderon. [📸@kingkyle1500]

I’m in Hamburg, Germany visiting prisons with @VeraInstitute, working to understand incarceration around the world to think deeper about how to end it at home. Today, we visited Billwerder Prison, the largest prison in Hamburg.

As you can imagine, even the most “innovative” prisons I’ve seen are still prisons. The paint might be fresher & the programming more robust, but it’s still a space that restricts freedom in the most aggressive ways.

In Hamburg, Billwerder Prison has all single cells, has a wing where mothers can be with children until age 4, the right to vote is never removed, no guards have weapons & the longest possible sentence at this facility is 2.5 years.

I’ve been more intentional about being in places of joy for the past few months and in being in spaces that help me see different ways of being in the world. I spend so much of my work engaged in issues of death and dying and sometimes it’s just so heavy that all there is is weight. That’s why my IG is rarely about the work I do everyday — not because I don’t care but because the heaviness is such a part of every other aspect of my life. And we should all be wearing more colors, every day. #HypeFest was cool and I’m a fan of track pants as a way of life. 🙏🏾 [📸@zak_krevitt]

NYC. #BlackBoyJoy.

If your love for me requires that I hide parts of who I am, then you don't love me. Love is never a request for silence.
#NationalComingOutDay.

We had a book launch event at @dapperdanharlem’s studio in Harlem in September and it was incredible. Thank you @gucci for partnering on this event and it was special to be with so many of my close friends! The tour is coming to an end and I’ve enjoyed being in conversation all across the country. And thank you to @christianbpeele and the team at Riverside for opening up the church to us. We have so much work to do.

I’m in Minneapolis on Thursday! I hope to see you there!

Go to RockTheVote.org to register to vote today. Your vote matters.

#HypeFest w/ @nellnothing & @coreytstokes. It’s good to be with good people.

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