Chi Ossé Is the Queer Gen Z Political Changemaker That New York City Deserves 

Chi Ossé is one Gen Z’s latest and greatest political newbies changing up the city’s landscape for the better.

While working in nightlife and retail promotion, the summer of 2020 became a life-changing one for Ossé. After the death of George Floyd, Ossé traded in party promotion for activism. Interestingly enough, his skillset proved to be transferable when organizing. 

Ossé formed the activist collective Warriors in the Garden, a group of local 20-somethings from various boroughs of New York City advocating against racism and police brutality. The young politician eventually became a prominent organizer for the Black Lives Matter movement. But why stop there? After an aunt proposed the idea, Ossé decided to run for office. 

On Juneteenth of the same year, Ossé embarked on a new journey, announcing his run to succeed NYC 36th District Councilman Robert Cornegy. The 36th district represented the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, as well as northern parts of Crown Heights – the neighborhood Ossé was raised in. While Ossé had the energy and fervor to launch a political campaign, the first Gen Z politician to run for his current seat, the odds were stacked against him in terms of it being successful. 

He had no prior political experience upon announcing his campaign and was doing so without the support of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party, labor unions, and business leaders. The self-described queer college dropout (Ossé attended Chapman University) did, however, have access to a well-connected community with a similar passion to reshape society for the better. With his connections from his nightlife days, new activist connections, family friends, and plenty of passion, Ossé pushed his campaign forward. Channeling the enterprising spirit of his parents (his mother, Akim Vann, is a local business owner and his late father, Reggie Ossé, was the managing editor of The Source), he was eventually endorsed by the Working Families Party and the U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s PAC Courage to Change.

Ossé’s campaign gained unique coverage, with non-political centered publications, such as Complex and Curbed, profiling the Gen Z politician. His scrappy campaign highlighted Ossé as one of the farthest left-leaning candidates within his competition. And while he may have lacked resources that traditional candidates had, Ossé swept the Democratic primary and general election becoming the youngest member of NYC’s Council. 

Now, in addition to holding his elected office, Ossé is the co-Chair of the Brooklyn Delegation and the Chair of the NYC Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations. As the 36th District’s Councilman, his efforts are focused on developing human-centered public safety solutions and creating innovative ways to combat NYC’s growing housing crisis. During his first term, he passed legislation providing anti-overdose medication and training for bars and nightlife establishments to access and potentially use to save the lives of their patrons.

But this is just some of the steps of Ossé’s work in public office. Joining the ranks of a new generation of politicians with an activist spirit, Ossé’s work is far from done, but is a true indicator of what’s to come from NYC’s queer Gen Z politicians. 

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