Nonbinary Black Artist YOKO Killed in New Orleans

Black nonbinary artists in colorful clothing. Unknown source.

New Orleans based nonbinary artist YOKO was killed in a hit and run accident on September 19, 2023. They were 30 years old.

The non-binary artist was killed Tuesday by a hit-and-run driver in Gentilly. New Orleans police said it happened just before 6 p.m. at Franklin and Fillmore avenues. Police said the victim was driving a motor scooter on Franklin when an SUV turned and hit the scooter. The victim was ejected, and the driver of the SUV kept going.

Then the driver was arrested the next day charged with one count of hit and run driving resulting in death and for possession of a stolen vehicle. He was also arrested on multiple fugitive warrants.

YOKO, an acronym for You Only Know One, was a visual artist and DJ. Yoko worked as a tattoo artist at Slangin’ Dat Ink. Born and raised in New Orleans, YOKO used they/them pronouns. YOKO’s socials are filled with beautiful images of their own creation and others. Further, their creativity transcended genres.

They explain the meaning of their name on their website, too.

In the year of our lold, 2016, when my and a general populace of the rest of America’s life certainly started to change for the more stressful, I resonated heavily with the term You Only Know One, looking for a sweet acronym (YOKO) that I can dump my new reality into, that also makes sense to who I am as a person. You Only Know One shortly became a mantra reinforcing ideas of self preservation, self worth, and understanding of the only constant in my life: the state of your ever changing self. Freshly stuck in the throes of a world outside of my control, armed with a large black pickup truck, all of my plants, and all of my art supplies with a whole new form to fill the shoes of, and of course, very, very confused, I left behind a life of struggle and started pursuing my art career very, very seriously.

We are so fortunate that they embedded their story and aspirations on their website, to give us a glimpse into their identity and find some glimpse of hope from a horrific tragedy.

As well as my family, I am inspired by so many things, notably anime and cartoons, complimentary color pallets, nature, and horror all in one. Lately, I’ve been hyperfixated on monster girls and nonbinary folks, but one day I’ll do literally anything else as a subject.

Also, YOKO’s employer Slangin Dat Ink is raising funds for their final expenses and has allocated space for a memorial that their friends and clients can visit. Reach out to them for more information.

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YOKO is the 21st trans or gender nonconforming person whose violent death has been reported in 2023. They are the 16th trans person of color, the 14th Black trans person, and the third nonbinary identifying person whose death have been recorded in the United States this year.  “Reported* is an important distinction to make as we know there are more folx whose deaths go unacknowledged.

YOKO was going to unveil their new project DISCERNMENT a budding solo noise project that is “yet to be describable” on Sept 29 @ The Mudlark Public Theatre, That’s especially heartbreaking. YOKO’s friends are posting about their work in mutual aid, generosity with their artwork, commitment to community building, and so many other contributions.

Rest in power, YOKO. Your creativity and compassion are hallmarks of your legacy, a tribute to the kind of person you aspired to be. Our failure to keep you safe as you simply moved about your hometown is a tragedy. It has been a pleasure to read the many stories of your friends and co-creators honoring all that you brought to New Orleans and beyond. Furthermore, I am so sorry that we did not create a safer world for you.

May your memory be a revolution.

This is our list of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors who have been victims of the campaign of terror in 2023. Please do not copy, modify, or share this list without attribution.  

  1. Jasmine ‘Star’ Mack – District of Columbia, January 7, 2023. Age 36.
  2. KC Johnson – Wilmington, North Carolina, January 13, 2023. Age 27.
  3. Tortuguita – Weelaunee Forest, Georgia, January 18, 2023. Age 26.
  4. Unique Banks – Chicago, Illinois, January 23, 2023. Age 21.
  5. Zachee Imanitwitaho – Louisville, Kentucky, February 3, 2023. Age 26.
  6. Maria Jose Rivera Rivera – Houston, Texas, January 21, 2023. Age 22.
  7. Cashay Henderson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 27, 2023. Age 31.
  8. Tasiyah ‘Siyah’ Woodland – Mechanicsville, Maryland, March 24, 2023. Age 18
  9. Ashley Burton – Atlanta, Georgia, April 11, 2023. Age 37.
  10. Rasheeda Williams – Atlanta, Georgia, April 18, 2023. Age 35.
  11. Banko Brown – San Francisco, California, April 27, 2023. Age 24.
  12. Ashia Davis – Detroit, Michigan, June 2, 2023. Age 34.
  13. Chanell Perez Ortiz – Carolina, Puerto Rico, June 25, 2023. Age 29.
  14. Jacob Williamson – Pageland, South Carolina, July 4, 2023, Age 18.
  15. Camdyn Rider – Winter Haven, Florida, July 21, 2023. Age 21.
  16. Kylie Monali – Riverside, California, September 7, 2022, Reported September 2023.
  17. DéVonnie J’Rae Johnson – Los Angeles, California, August 7, 2023. Age 27.
  18. Thomas ‘Tom-Tom’ Robinson – Calumet, Indiana, August 17, 2023. Age 28.
  19. Charm Wilson – Cleveland, Ohio, September 8, 2023. Age 32.
  20. Bre’Asia Bankz – Arizona, September 5, 2023. Age 27.
  21. Alexa Sokova – Palm Bay, Florida, September 5, 2023. Age 30.
  22. YOKO – New Orleans Louisiana, September 19, 2023. Age 30.

Trans deaths


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