October 14, 2020

Is It Too Revolutionary?

by Resistance

Background show artwork for Resistance

When the protests kicked off in New York City this summer, 22 year old Chi Osse joined them right away. And when he went out, what he saw changed the trajectory of his life. 

Where to Listen


Announcer: Hey, just a warning before we get started: this episode of Resistance has some strong language in it.

Saidu Tejan Thomas Jr.: When people all around the world started going outside and protesting, I’m kind of ashamed to say that I was on my couch playing video games. I was tossing touchdowns in one game, then shooting people’s heads off in another, and the most I raised my voice for anything was to talk trash to my friends over a headset.

Saidu: But it was during one of these games that my boy asked me “Yo, did you hear about what happened to George Floyd?'' I hadn’t yet. But these days, your homies don’t ask if you’ve heard what happened to a Black man you’ve never heard of unless that man is already dead. And I really wasn’t trying to hear that.

Saidu: And I know that it’s important and necessary to talk about these things when they happen, but I just didn't want to have to think about that all the time. I just didn’t have the capacity for it. So I just shook my head and told him, “Damn, dawg. That’s crazy.” And I went back to trash talking.

Saidu: A couple days later though as the protests got more intense, I kept thinking about this. And I convinced myself that the reason I wasn’t out there protesting was because I didn't want to catch coronavirus. Or maybe it was self-care or some shit like that. And I think those are valid points. But in all honesty, I know that I stayed on my couch because for me, I didn’t think there was much use in fighting any more.

Saidu: When I was in college, I went to some of the first Black Lives Matter protests in my city. I remember shouting the names of Trayvon and Tamir and Sandra and Akai and countless others, until I lost my voice to tears. I remember crying on my friend’s shoulders, spitting in the direction of cops. I waved signs, led chants, stopped traffic, wrote poems. It felt like I did everything, but it didn’t stop this shit from continuing. So when this new movement met me on my couch, it low-key met in a kind of surrender.

Saidu: As the weeks went by though, I couldn’t help but read some articles about what happened to George Floyd, and the many ways people were standing up against it. And I kept seeing in story after story, a common theme taking over the headlines. Like, "Teen Girls Organized Nashville’s Largest Protest." Or "The Black Youth Leading the George Floyd Protests."

Saidu: It wasn’t all that surprising that young people were at the vanguard of this new movement. Aren’t we always? Like, I think of Marcus Garvey, Bayard Rustin, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, and a whole lot of other people. By the time they were in their early- to mid-20s, they were already getting busy and shaking things up.

Saidu: But I was surprised at myself. Because when I looked at those headlines about this new generation of activists and organizers, my first question wasn’t, "Wow, how are they gonna shake things up?" My first question was, "Wow, how are they gonna keep this up?" How are they not gonna end up like me, 27, on the couch, tired of yelling, and trying to drown out their anger and frustration in a video game?

Saidu: So that’s what this show is about. A thing I keep hearing over and over again is: This time is different. But like, how? Other than the fact that a bunch of white people are protesting for the first time, how is this time different for young Black and brown people who are once again offering themselves up to fight? Because as the streets clear and folks return to work, and there isn’t a pandemic forcing people to pay attention anymore, what will have really changed for us?

Saidu: In this first episode, we’re gonna to hear the story of a 22 year old who thinks a lot can change from this moment. And in fact, this summer has already put him on a completely different life path, different from the one he imagined for himself just a few months ago. His name is Chi. Chi Osse.

Saidu: Hey, Chi?

Chi Osse: Hey, how’s it going? You're on speakerphone. I’m with my stylist, Brandon.

Brandon Tan: Hi.

Saidu: You’re—you said you're with who?

Chi Osse: My stylist.

Saidu: When I called him up, Chi was with his stylist Brandon. I’ll explain later why he has a stylist, but for now Chi wants to know what we’re gonna call this show.

Chi Osse: What do you think you’re having the show be called?

Saidu: I think the show might be called Resistance. How do you feel about that?

Chi Osse: Brandon, what do you think?

Brandon Tan: He thinks the show should be called Resistance? Hmm.

Saidu: [laughs]

Saidu: From Gimlet, I’m Saidu Tejan Thomas Jr., and this is Resistance. That’s a good name, right?

Saidu: I've been following Chi for months now. And like a lot of people, Chi had never been to a protest before George Floyd was killed. He was a typical 22-year-old city kid. He was going to clubs, traveling, and he was really into fashion. But when the protests kicked off in New York City, Chi joined them almost right away.

Chi Osse: The first day? I wore shorts. I brought some water and some chapstick. That's the most amateur, I mean, protesting outfit you could bring.

Saidu: Chi had no idea what he was in for.

Chi Osse: We went to Barclay Center, and it was a peaceful protest. It was a nonviolent protest. And these cops were taking pictures. And, like, then they started pushing barricades onto people. They started pulling out their batons. They started beating people. They pepper-sprayed me and a friend of mine who I went with.

[INSTAGRAM CLIP: Sierra, be careful! Be careful, be careful!]

Saidu: What was it like getting pepper-sprayed your first time protesting? What did that feel like?

Chi Osse: Thank God, it was on my arm. It wasn't in my face. But it's like when you eat the spiciest pepper. Like, liquid fire that you can't see. And they are so quick to use that shit. And the first day was so emotional.

[INSTAGRAM CLIP: Get away from us! Get away from us! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!]

Saidu: In Chi’s Instagram video from his very first day of protesting, you can hear him crying from behind the camera. You can tell that he really did not expect things to go as far as they did.

Chi Osse: I saw a police car get burned. I was like, "Whoa, it's really like this." I didn't know it would get that far.

Saidu: By the end of that first day, what was, like, your overwhelming feeling?

Chi Osse: So I cried that first day in the middle of the protest. But then it was like, anger. I have never been that angry at police officers before. When these motherfuckers are beating us and spraying clouds of pepper spray for people fricking chanting.

Saidu: Chi and the other protesters were chanting all kinds of things at the cops, "Hands up, don’t shoot," "Fuck the police," and also ...

[INSTAGRAM CLIP: NYPD, suck my dick! NYPD, suck my dick! NYPD, suck my dick! NYPD, suck my dick!]

Saidu: If you watch all of Chi’s videos from those first days of protesting, it’s really wild to see just how quickly he took to all of this. I mean, on day one he was crying in shorts, But on day two, the man looks like he’s ready for battle.

Chi Osse: The next day I was, you know, safety glasses and covering my entire face. Pants, combat boots. Not for combat but for, you know, just toe protection.

Saidu: And by day three—day three, mind you—he looks like a seasoned revolutionary. He’s in Times Square, he’s on a stage in the middle of a sea of people, holding a microphone, chanting and getting the crowd hyped up. And the thing is, people are actually listening.

[INSTAGRAM CLIP: Everybody! They are trying to strike fear in our hearts! If they don’t kneel with us, they are fucking against us. Don't let them break you! Be peaceful, don’t break. They want us to break. If we break, we give them what they fucking want. No justice! No peace! No justice! No peace! No justice! No peace!]

Saidu: The next time you went out, is that when you wore the beret?

Chi Osse: Beret was day three. That’s when I was finding my own and people were listening to me and people were recognizing me, and I was like, let’s go. If we’re gonna do this, let’s bring fashion to it, too.

Saidu: For three weeks, Chi went out in his beret. He marched through Bed Stuy and downtown Brooklyn, through lower Manhattan to Midtown to Harlem. It was like protesting had become a way to channel his anger and frustration into something productive. Once he started, he couldn’t stop.

Chi Osse: It was a traumatic blur of just moving. Like sleep, moving, sleep, moving, shouting, sweating, walking miles, sleep. But it all just blended together.

Saidu: Chi began noticing some familiar faces who were showing up every day, too. It was about 12 of them, and most were around the same age as him—early- to mid-20s—and they were always at the front of the protests where he was. Chi tells me they’re all the kind of people who are the loudest in their friend groups, just like him. So they exchanged numbers, started a Signal chat, and pretty quickly they formed a collective. They called it Warriors in the Garden.

Saidu: The Warriors started organizing their own protests, which got them a lot of media attention. And in the days and weeks that followed, Chi and his friends were in the New York Times, in Vogue, Buzzfeed, NBC, and a bunch of other publications too. 60 Minutes even asked to follow them around. Suddenly it kind of felt like you were seeing Chi and the Warriors in the Garden everywhere.

[INSTAGRAM CLIP: This is Warriors In The Garden. And we’ve been out here. We’ve been out here. Nearly every goddamn day fighting for our fucking rights. Are we gonna slow down? I couldn’t hear that. Are we gonna slow down? No!]

Saidu: In just a few weeks, Chi had become one of the faces of youth-led protests happening all across New York.

Chi Osse: I guess something that we say a lot is this is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy, because it is fucking crazy. But we gotta do more than just be shocked all the time.

Saidu: One day, Chi got a text from his auntie, and they started talking about what he’d been up to. And she was like, protesting is good and all, but it’s voting that counts. That’s how you get things done. And she challenged him. She said, "Do you even know who your city council members are?"

Chi Osse: And I didn't know. So I took it upon myself to do the research.

Saidu: And as he researched, he learned who his city council member is, and he also learned that that guy wouldn’t be running for re-election in 2021. There was gonna be an empty seat. And Chi wanted that seat to be filled by a political newcomer, a young blood if you will, a fresh face, someone who wouldn’t take money from police unions and special interests, someone who knew how to galvanize young voters and do it with a lot of style too. Someone who's been out here in these streets. And Chi knew just the person for the job. He texted his auntie back.

Chi Osse: Like, "Hey. Well, I think I'm running for city council now."

Saidu: That happened on Monday. On Wednesday, I’m in his campaign office. He already has a campaign office.

Chi Osse: Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this!

Saidu: Here’s the thing about trying to pull off something like this when you’re 22: You and everyone else around you probably have the time, especially during a pandemic. So as soon as Chi decided he wanted to run for office, members of Warriors in the Garden and other folks he’d met while protesting started finding ways to help. One of them hit up a contact, and within 20 minutes they had an office. A few days later there we were, walking in for their first ever campaign meeting.

Chi Osse: That’s my campaign manager

Saidu: It’s Chi’s first time seeing the space, and the first thing we both notice immediately is the bright colors painted everywhere. On the walls and all over the floor, red, yellow, purple, blue. It low-key looked like one of those McDonald's playpens with the colorful balls, you know the ones you’d jump into as a kid? Like that. But someone tells us it’s actually an art space. We get settled in.

Chi Osse: Yeah. Why don’t we go around? Hi, my name is Chi Osse. The future councilman of District 36. Thank you so much for being here. This is so awesome.

Saidu: There’s about eight of us in the room, and everyone grabs something to sit on: a wooden crate, an office chair that leans way too far back, whatever’s available, really. And folks form a circle and start introducing themselves.

Cindy Canchew: Hello, I'm Cindy Canchew. I am campaign adviser and speechwriter. Yeah. So gotta make those speeches sound professional. So I’m just really happy to be here.

Saidu: There’s Cindy, the campaign adviser and speechwriter, Paul the campaign manager, Joseph the legislative researcher, Treat the web designer, Nick the graphic designer and Brandon the stylist. Chi would later tell me that his staff is still in flux, he’s still figuring out the team. But that day, his staff had a lot to get through.

Staffer: There's stuff we need to decide. What party you’re running with. Democrat, DSA, Green.

Chi Osse: Probably DSA, right?

Staffer: I mean, that’s Cortez’s platform. That’s a bunch of other people.

Chi Osse: She is? That’s her platform? Okay.

Saidu: One of the members of Chi’s staff points out that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in the DSA—The Democratic Socialists of America. And that settles it. They’ll be DSA too. From the first moment I talked to Chi, he told me he wanted to build a grassroots movement, something that says stylish and young but also hella serious about change. And in this moment I can see why. That’s part of how AOC won her election. She built a grassroots movement, and she did it without sacrificing her cool, don’t-take-no-shit-from-nobody Bronx attitude. She's literally interrogating Republicans in Congress one day, and putting on Timbs to go grab bodega sandwiches with Desus and Mero the next. And she’s bad. But it’s not just AOC, right? Chi knows that right now being young and Black or brown and progressive and in power all at the same damn time is more possible than ever. Right now, you can be from a neighborhood just like Chi’s and look just like him and win.

Saidu: He has that going for him. But if he is gonna win, he still has a lot to figure out. So for the next two hours, his staff goes over what they need to be considering for their run. Like, what should their domain name be?

Staffer: So we’re going with Osse2021?

Saidu: Should they pay for professional email addresses?

Staffer: It’s $12 a month, per account.

Saidu: What color scheme should they use on their fliers?

Staffer: Like, if you look at the Rage Against the Machine shit, like, that was black and red.

Saidu: How will they receive donations?

Chi Osse: I am banned from Venmo.

Saidu: Is the team diverse enough?

Staffer: I would love another Black woman on the team.

Saidu: Oh and yeah, what about the beret?

Staffer: Even my roommate Sophia was like, is he wearing the beret?

Staffer: Is it too revolutionary?

Saidu: There’s also the matter of social media. His campaign adviser, Cindy, suggests that they go through all his accounts for anything that will make him look bad.

Cindy Canchew: Is there much that needs to be scrubbed?

Chi Osse: I had someone scrub my Twitter last night. All my likes, all my retweets, and it’s a private account. But I’ll make a separate Twitter too, for politics. My Finsta has been deleted. That's, like, six, seven years of stuff deleted. So that's how serious—if you want to know how serious I am about this, well there you go, because it's my diary that's been burned. But I could get in a lot of trouble with some of the stuff on there.

Cindy Canchew: On your Facebook?

Chi Osse: Oh yeah, Facebook. I'm gonna delete my Facebook. That’s a lot of years of—I probably said "retarded" or something. I’m gonna delete my Facebook for sure.

Saidu: Like a lot of people his age, Chi grew up online. And if he ever said anything offensive or stupid when he was a kid, he probably said it on the internet. But kid or not, he really wants to make sure he doesn’t get in his own way once he starts running. And it’s not just his behavior online that his team wants to talk about, it’s also his behavior in real life.

Staffer: So this is something you particularly need to work on, but the chants? Mm-hmm.

Saidu: Remember this?

[INSTAGRAM CLIP: NYPD, suck my dick! NYPD, suck my dick! NYPD, suck my dick!]

Saidu: So Chi and his team have to figure out what to do about that, if they even should do anything about that, if they even think it’s a problem. Chi starts taking suggestions from his staff.

Chi Osse: Which ones can I not do?

Staffer: NYPD, suck my dick. For me? No problem. I tell cops that all the time.

Saidu: What’s that one?

Staffer: NYPD, suck my dick.

Saidu: Sorry, this may be a dumb question, but why do you guys want to stop using some of those chants?

Staffer: Just because we don't want to take on, like—well, we actually don't necessarily have to stop. It just depends on how you want to be seen in a political light. Because you can take that radical route and be like, I am saying all these things because I genuinely think they all need to change. It all depends on how you want to be seen.

Staffer: You know, you could totally be an outsider and just like, you know, rain hellfire onto the city council. You know, that's definitely possible. But to get legislation passed, to get bills—to get bills even spoken about, you need a coalition with people. And these are people that, they are city council members, but they are also human beings. They have their own loyalties they have to live with. And you got to play politics with them. You know, when you’re in the building you’ve got to act a different kind of way. That's just—that's how it is, that’s just how it works.

Saidu: He’s not even an official politician yet, and Chi’s already having to think about the ways he might need to compromise. Earlier, on our way to the office, he told me he didn’t know how long he’d be in politics, but he knew one thing: the second he felt like he had to compromise, he’d be done. So I grabbed him for a second and asked him how he felt about this moment.

Saidu: It almost seems like, with, you know, the scrubbing of your social media and not—choosing maybe not to say some of those chants, that—would it be accurate to say that those are sort of like early compromises?

Chi Osse: For sure, they're early compromises, but I don't think they're the compromises that I mean when I say I would drop out of politics. I don't think those compromise who I am as a person as much as, you know, actually making large decisions that affect people's lives. You know, I think just deleting my social media just affects my life, but I think some of the bigger decisions that politicians make to compromise affect other people's lives.

Saidu: So you're willing to sacrifice stuff from your own life, but not other people's?

Chi Osse: Yeah.

Saidu: After the meeting, Chi looks drained. It’s been a long couple hours, it's been a long couple of weeks, but there’s a lot longer to go. The election isn’t until 2021. And at this point, there’s some stuff he’s figured out. He knows he wants to fight police brutality by defunding the police. He knows he wants to end qualified immunity for police officers—a legal doctrine that makes it nearly impossible to sue cops. And he knows he wants to fight gentrification in the neighborhood where he grew up, in Crown Heights and Bed Stuy. But the fact is, he’s still learning the basics.

Saidu: A couple days later, it’s Juneteenth. The big day. The day Chi plans to announce his candidacy. His speechwriter, Cindy, has prepared a speech for him, and he’s rehearsing it in the campaign office.

Chi Osse: Hello everyone. My name is Chi Osse. Today I'm announcing my candidacy for city council member District 36. Cheer, cheer. I'm aware that I will probably get asked why is Gen Z activist—sorry. I'm aware that I will probably get asked, why is a Gen Z activist deciding to run during this time?

Saidu: When we come back, Chi the political candidate steps into the light.

Chi Osse: It's time for a city council member that truly cares about the constituents—is that what it is?

Cindy Canchew: Yeah.

Chi Osse: Of their district. A change is gonna come, but only if people like me are there to make sure it happens. No longer shall we be ignored.

Cindy Canchew: French kiss. Do you like it? Sounds good when you speak? Okay.

Saidu: What’s good y’all? Welcome back. At this point in the story, it’s been three weeks and four days since police killed George Floyd. In some places there are still protests raging on, but in others they’ve definitely started to die down. And a big question for people who care about seeing change is: What’s the next move? For Chi, the answer is local politics. Just three weeks after protesting for the first time ever in his life, he decided to run for city council.

Chi Osse: Hey, we're here!

Staffer: This place is beautiful.

Chi Osse: Yeah isn’t it? This is our campaign office.

Saidu: It’s Juneteenth, and we’re back at his campaign office. Chi’s gonna kick off his run by taking part in a Zoom forum on police brutality, with a lot of big names in New York politics in attendance. This is the first time he’s had a seat at the table, and he wants to prove that he’s not just about pointing out what’s wrong with the system, he also has ideas about how to make it better.

Saidu: His campaign manager watches the video call on his laptop from the opposite side of the table, ready to communicate to Chi in whispers or hand gestures if needed. Chi looks focused, he stares at his own screen, he plays with his fingers a little while waiting for the meeting to start.

Saidu: What’s going through your mind right now in these minutes leading up to this panel?

Chi Osse: I'm very excited. I'm nervous because I'm finally starting my campaign today. I don’t want to sound stupid. And I don’t think I am, but I think when I get nervous I can mumble and maybe not say the right words.

Moderator: Good morning. Thanks for joining us today. Happy Juneteenth.

Saidu: There’s a lot of seasoned people speaking on this panel: the leader of the New York County Democrats, a rep from New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, a sitting city council member and a few other public servants who’ve been in the game for years. Members of the community are watching, typing questions into the chat box. When the moderator calls on Chi, he’s ready.

Moderator: Our next panelist is the founder of Warriors in the Garden. We have Mr. Shy O-Say. Did I pronounce that correctly?

Chi Osse: It's Chi Osse. Thank you very much.

Moderator: Chi. I’m sorry, Chi.

Chi Osse: No worries at all. Hi, everyone. Thank you so much Alita and Adrian for having me. Mr. Wright, it is truly an honor to be in your virtual presence. It is also an honor to be on this panel with such important Black and brown figures here in the New York City community. My name is Chi, I'm a 22-year-old activist, born and raised in District 36 of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. My community has been underfunded, gentrified and subjected to consistent police brutality and systemic racism.

Saidu: Chi goes on to talk about the ways he’s using social media to capture the protests and document police brutality. And it seems like it’s going pretty well. A few faces that appear on the display screen are nodding in agreement to the things he’s saying. His campaign manager flashes him a thumbs up. After Chi finishes introducing himself, he starts talking in a way I haven’t really heard him talk before.

Chi Osse: I do applaud the passing of initiatives 760-A, 721-A and T2026-267 yesterday, but I'm looking forward to the proposed $1-billion budget cut and the repeal of 50A.

Saidu: Like, I heard that and my first reaction was like, what? What is initiative 760-A, 202626—what is that? This is the moment where I was like, oh shit, this man’s been doing his homework. This isn’t just about berets and looking good for him, he’s actually got receipts and he isn’t afraid to show them. Like, seeing this level of dedication, I honestly felt bad about myself. While I’d been on my couch trying to unlock new weapons in a video game, here was Chi leveling up, and preparing to speak directly to the people who can make change, and telling them exactly how to do it.

Chi Osse: It's just the tip of the iceberg. I challenge you all to go further than $1-billion in NYPD budget cuts. I challenge you to go further in passing legislation that prevents police brutality and systemic racism within policing. I would also challenge you to take a deeper look at qualified immunity and how it prevents true justice in our system. 98.3 percent of police officers who kill are not charged. And how many of those undergo thorough investigation?

Saidu: Chi wraps it up.

Moderator: Thank you Chi.

Saidu: His campaign manager does a little dance. Whispers, "You killed it!"

Chi Osse: Have a happy Juneteenth, everyone.

Moderator: You too.

Chi Osse: Bye. Woo! [laughs]

Saidu: Now it's time to go to the streets. To stop the code switching and leave the adults, to go be with his people. It’s finally time for Chi to announce his candidacy to the thousands of young folks he’s been protesting with for the past month. Juneteenth marches have already begun across the city and we have to catch up. So we grab our things and head from his office in Bed Stuy across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan to join the rest of the Warriors in the Garden in Washington Square Park. And the closer we get, the more I can tell it’s where Chi really wants to be.

Chi Osse: This is my audience. This is what—this is the voter that I'm trying to reach: the youth. I know a decent amount of these kids live in my district. This is who I'm trying to bring out to vote in local elections.

Saidu: I spent all of Juneteenth with Chi. We walked from lower Manhattan to Washington Square Park, then marched with a crowd of about 4,000 people all the way up to the center of Central Park. If you’re not familiar with New York, that’s about 83 streets or four hours of walking. And goddamn, I was tired. For the first time in my life my hips hurt. I guess my video game playing hips hadn’t quite made the switch back to protest hips just yet. And that shit was upsetting!

Saidu: And I kept looking at Chi and the other Warriors in the Garden members. And they looked like they were fine, like they were just beginning and they weren’t tired at all. The only time I saw one of them take a break was to cry, and I saw Chi hold her until she got it all out. Then he said something I assume was comforting for her, and just like that they were back to chanting and marching and dancing again. I grabbed one of the Warriors in the Garden, a young guy in his early 20s named Joseph Martinez, and I asked him how long he’d been at this.

Joseph Martinez: Like, it's insane to me how that movement that started, like, the Black Lives Matter movement started in 2014, you know? And we're still fighting for the same shit. I was a kid then. I was in high school, right? I was worried about fucking getting girls and doing musicals. That's what I was on about, right? But, like, now I'm an adult, and I see friends of mine in the street fucking crying because they don't know if they're—if the kids are gonna go home and they're worried about, like, the next generation. And they're worried about themselves. And I can't stand that shit. So I'm out here, bro.

Saidu: Joseph is out here, along with a bunch of other early 20-somethings fighting for change. But I asked some of the other Warriors in the Garden what they would be doing if they weren’t out protesting. Marvyn Williams said on a Friday evening like this, he’d probably be enjoying a drink and hanging with his dog, Brago. D-wreck Ingram told me he’d be doing push-ups on his roof, trying to stay in shape during quarantine. Kiara Williams said she’d be planning a sleepover with her friends. And Chi said he’d be home, binge-watching every season of Ozark on Netflix until he falls asleep. And I wanted to ask Joseph, do you wish you were just back getting girls and doing musicals? Do you wish you didn’t have to be out here? But before I can ask, he gets a call on his walkie talkie. Another organizer needs his help. He darts into the crowd to answer the call.

Saidu: Finally, we make it to Central Park. And after a long day of chanting, marching and two false starts, Chi is about to give his speech. It's night time. There’s a makeshift podium set up in the middle of the great lawn with a few portable flood lights shining towards it.

Speaker: I said make some noise!

Saidu: I grab Chi for a second before he speaks. And he tells me he’s calling an audible. That speech he was rehearsing earlier in the day? He’s not gonna read it.

Chi Osse: I'm so nervous.

Saidu: Are you?

Chi Osse: Because I'm not reading from the script. Boom boom, boom boom, boom boom, boom boom.

Saidu: The sound of your heart?

Saidu: His friend D-wreck gives him a pep talk. He tells Chi, "Wake these people up." The historian who's up there right now is just going on and on and on.

D-wreck Ingram: This crowd is dead as fuck. She's putting them to sleep with all these history facts. You need to wake them up. Shut it down, bro.

Saidu: Chi steps into the light, and the first thing he does is starts chanting.

Chi Osse: What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!

Saidu: How do you think Chi’s speech is going so far?

D-wreck Ingram: I'm glad he started off with a chant. The crowd was dead as fuck. This is what he’s good at.

Chi Osse: That’s what I like to hear.

Woman: Yes Chi!

Chi Osse: My name is Chi Osse. I am 22 years old, I am Black and queer, and I'm a native Brooklynite and New Yorker. This is my 20th—23rd day protesting both physically and virtually. I'm fucking tired, but I am more tired of white supremacy. This fight that we're fighting is multifaceted. It is important that we are here protesting. It's important that we're posting on social media. It is important that we're calling our senators and state representatives. It is important that we vote, but it's also important that we run for local government. I am happy to announce that I'm running for city council. And I am going to win!

Saidu: If you didn’t catch that at the very end, Chi says he’s going to win. Now I can’t tell you how viable his campaign is, or how many of the people around him will still be supporting him this time next year when the election rolls around. I can’t even tell you if he’ll even make it to the election, or if he’ll burn out the way I did. But watching Chi speak so confidently about the future, and hearing the crowd of applause that’s backing him? Shit, I believed him. After all, he did get me off my couch.

Chi Osse: Thank you so much for coming out. And I'm gonna fucking win, baby.

Saidu: Thanks for listening to this first episode of Resistance. Resistance is produced by Bethel Habte, Wallace Mack, Aaron Randle and Kimmie Regler. Our production assistant is Sandra Riano. Our supervising producer is Sarah McVeigh. We’re edited by Lynn Levy, Lydia Polgreen and Brendan Klinkenberg. Mixing, scoring and theme by Bobby Lord. Fact checking is by Michelle Harris. Our show art is by Darien Birks of The Stuyvesants. Good looks, homie.

Credits music is Lockdown by Anderson Paak.

Saidu: And special thanks to Liz Fulton, Jessie Harte, Jen Hahn, Clara Sankey, Sarah Abando, Dan Behar, Rosa Oh, Kimu Elolia, Jonathan Goldstein, Emmanuel Dzotsi, Meg Driscoll, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Alex Blumberg, Chenjerai Kumanyika, PJ Voigt, Matthew Nelson, Chuma Osse, Gabby Bulgarelli, Emanuele Berry, Brittany Luse, Eric Eddings, Sheri Rickson and Yarminiah Rosa.

Saidu: Oh, and one last thing: Did you know you can vote before Nov 3rd in most states? To find out how, go to playyourpart.ballotready.org. Please, please do that. Resistance is a Spotify original podcast and Gimlet production. See y'all next week.