I have a very important story of police violence to share in just a moment, but first I want to encourage our listeners all over the country to vote early.
Listen to me – in most states across the country, early voting has already started. In Georgia, where we are fighting hard for Stacey Abrams to become the first Black woman to ever be elected Governor in the entire history of this nation – early voting started yesterday – and every single county has at least one early voting location.
Let me explain to you a very hard lesson I learned earlier this year. In Dallas, I worked with local organizers to help elect a courageous new District Attorney there – and on election day we beat our opponent by over 15% – that’s a blowout – but guess what – even though we beat our opponent by 15% on election day voting – we still lost – because he crushed us on early voting. He beat us so badly in the early voting that no matter how hard we fought on election day – we were in a hole that we just couldn’t get out of – and we ended up losing by less than 500 votes.
Long story short is this – if you can vote now – vote! If you Google “Early Voting” and the name of your state – your early voting locations and options will come right up. Go ahead and get your vote out of the way – and spend the next 3 weeks working your butt off to get everybody else out to vote early too. If we’re going to make history across the country during this election, we can’t do what we’ve always done, we have to do what we’ve never done before – and set our own records for voter turnout!
I want to clarify something real quick. You will often hear stats that say something like 90 – 95% Black women voted for Democrats in the previous election. That stat is being misstated. 90-95% of Black women who voted, voted for Democrats, but the actual turnout is actually somewhere around 60 – 65% – which is great, but we’re going to have to take it up even higher if we’re going to win in Georgia and Texas and Florida and across the country.
Yesterday I dedicated my entire day on social media to a young brother who was recently killed by police in the Bay Area of California. If you go now to my profile on Instagram, I shared over a dozen different photos and stories about him and his family. His name was Chinedu Okobi – and he was my Morehouse brother. He stayed in my dorm, LLC, and I was his Student Government President in 1999-2000. He was actually very good friends with many of my best friends and was the sweetest, warmest, most chilled out brother you’d ever meet.
His sister, Ebele, is actually one of the most beloved employees at all of Facebook – and is often called the Secretary of State of Facebook – because of how much she brings world leaders to the table to help them understand how they can positively use the platform. She currently serves as the Director of Policy at Facebook for all of Africa. She was formerly the head of Human Rights at Yahoo and a success project manager at Nike before she joined the team at Facebook.
I spoke with Ebele on Saturday and of course their entirely family is absolutely devastated. Chinedu was tasered to death by police after what appears to be a traffic violation. We are still gathering details about the case, but let me break down a few things.
So many immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are often told that some of the worst problems in this country, like police brutality, don’t apply to them, but this past month, where police murdered Botham Jean – who was from St. Lucia and Chinedu Okobi – who was from Nigeria – have taught all of us that this justice system doesn’t care where in the Diaspora you are from – not one little bit.
And I want to close with this thought – we have to set a radically higher standard for what we are fighting for when it comes to policing in America – yes we need fewer unarmed Black folk who are shot by police, but that can’t be our only measurement of progress. Chinedu Okobi was killed with a Taser, Eric Garner was choked to death. We need to set a radical new definition of what quality policing looks like in our own communities and cities – particularly in places where we are the majority – like Atlanta and Dallas and Houston and New Orleans and Birmingham and Jackson – we can’t wait until something awful happens to organize – we have to organize around radical new policies and reforms long before that.
Shaun King: Chinedu Okobi Was Killed By Police In The Bay Area was originally published on blackamericaweb.com