Number two. Losing a belief that we can win. The thing that fuels me everyday is this belief that we got this. It's like, that's why I could sleep in my car during the protest. It's why I quit my job and slept in people's basements, and depleted my retirement, and defaulted on my student loans. It was sort of fine, because I was like, you know, I'll get another job one day. That'll be cool, and we'll win.
Number three. Falling in a cafeteria.
Number four. Being shot and killed by law enforcement. I got pulled over once in St. Louis. I was driving back at like 4:00 a.m. and it was a Ferguson police officer. I get pulled over, and I'm alone. He comes to the window he realizes it’s me because I was the most referenced person in the world during the protest. And he goes, it's you. And I'm like, hey. And he's like, I don't want to be a cop. I want to be a nurse. I'm just doing this to make money. I'm leaving the moment I can. You know it was like this whole story. And he was like, just go. Go home. Be safe. And that was really interesting because it was this behind the scenes look at, like, you guys are participating in this thing that you don't even believe in, you know? You don’t even believe in it.
Number five. A tweet gone awry and then having no Internet service.
Number six. My phone being hacked again.
Number seven. Needing to be a solid witness to an important event, and not remembering a key set of details. You know how in the movies it's like, how did you prove where you were? Like did somebody see… you know, the person got killed on this corner at this time, but you thought it was a kid crying, but it was really a murder. So, I always play those things through my head. So I'll be going out to get trash in the middle of night, and I'll make sure that I text my friend just a random thing so there's a marker that I was away. You know, I don’t know, these random things, I’m like, “Ahh!”
Number eight. My great-grandmother dying. I really don't know what started it, but I used to freak out that she's going to die. I wouldn't leave the house a lot because I just didn't want to not be there, you know? I remember I came out, like, way later, but I remember one day I must have been switching up the stairs. She was like, “I saw you switching,” you know? But not in a don't-do-that way. More like an I-see-you sort of way. We just had a special thing. She was a sharecropper. She picked cotton for ten cents a pound when she was a kid. And every time we talked about a world that I lived in, her world got a little bigger, and I could see it. So the thought that I went to school in Maine was really crazy. And I think about the world I live in today is just so far different than that world she grew up in. Yeah, it’s those things that I wish I had been able to help her see better. When she actually did pass away, I’ll never forget, she called me randomly. I was in my room in college. She was in the hospital. It was our last conversation, and I’ll never forget it because even in that moment she was like, “DeRay, I’m going to be okay.” I appreciate that she said goodbye, you know? That means a lot to me.
Number nine. The idea of waking up next to one person and those sorts of things. I just haven't been there yet. I've been close. So I try to be conscious these days. Like, I go on dates, and I will make time for that dessert. I don't drink. So people say, let’s do drinks. It's like, no I don't drink, but let's do dessert. I make time for those sorts of things. I don't want to be one of those people who looks back and is like, I fought the good fight, we got these incredible wins in civil rights, but I didn't find joy in my own life.
Number ten. So as a kid, I think I couldn't imagine past eighteen because in Baltimore at the time it was a really dangerous city, and the idea of death was really present. I remember for a lot of years as a kid I would have these nightmares of jello and spaghetti. Like, drowning in them as really awful ways to go out. For some reason it was like, I don't want to die drowning in spaghetti. Like the noodles getting your nostrils… that’s just awful.
My name is DeRay Mckesson and these are 10 things that scare me.