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Interview: Chi Ossé

Looking to shape the community his family has been a part of for three generations, Chi Ossé is an activist, and political candidate from Crown Heights hoping to win a seat as NYC’s 36th District City Council member in November 2021. Back in July, we had the opportunity to collaborate with Ossé on the logo for his campaign to create something that is classic, yet contemporary; bold and revolutionary—and with the uncertainty of the presidential election looming, we reconnected to see how it has been on the campaign trail so far.

As a third-generation Brooklynite, what was it like to grow up in NYC? 

Growing up in New York was amazing. I was surrounded by so many different people from different parts of the world. Specifically in Brooklyn, we had so many different types of black people: Jamaicians, Haitians, Trinidadians, and more. New York gave me a deeper understanding of culture and community. 

What are the sounds, smells, sights, tastes that tell you you’re home?
Smoke from Jerk chicken on Marcy Ave.

Chocolate chip sea salt cooking from The Bakery on Bergen.

Dancehall music booming from cars driving on Fulton Street. 

People of all different colors walking down Nostrand Ave.

What got you interested in politics? What was your path that led you to running for City Council?

Once you are black in America, your life becomes political. Laws impact communities of color differently because the system was never created to protect us. In my household, we always discussed politics because it was essential to our livelihood. During the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I began to protest and collectively started a peaceful protest organization called Warriors in the Garden. I wanted to do more and started to do research on local politics. I found out a seat would be available in my district and decided to run for City Councilman. 

What has been the most surprising or unexpected experience you’ve had throughout your campaign?

The most surprising part about the campaign is realizing how many people do not know about local politics and how much they control the budget of our communities. It also is very strange trying to navigate a campaign during a global pandemic.  

Do you have any advice for those who might be new to New York City or people looking to become more civically involved on how to engage in their local politics? 

My best advice for those who might be new to New York is google who people in their district are: email them, support other candidates, be active in your local community. There are so many community aid programs, get involved!

We’re experiencing some exceptionally challenging times, where do you go for sources of inspiration? Who are some of your role models?

Some of my inspirations include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bayard Rustin. They inspire me because they are people who care about policy while claiming victory in their careers against all odds, challenges.

And lastly, as big music fans — we’d love to know what are some of your all-time favorite tracks or albums? 

Jewelry by Blood Orange 

Brooklyn We Go Hard by Jay Z ft Santigold

Deceptacon by Le Tigre

Learn more about Ossé's vision and campaign for City Council in the 36th district and donate here.