Maya Wiley, Who Could Become New York City’s First Black Woman Mayor, Talks Police Reform And Being The Child Of Activists
If elected, Wiley said she plans to ensure all New Yorkers can live with dignity.
April 21, 2021 at 6:43 pm
New York City mayoral candidate Maya Wiley has her sights set on becoming the first Black woman to hold the position as she ramps up her campaign.
The dedicated community advocate spoke with Blavity and discussed her inspirations, priorities if elected and how she's been spending some of her downtime in quarantine.
The daughter of George Wiley, a community activist who focused his attention on the betterment of the Black community, said seeing her parents work hard and stand by their principles inspired her to "use what I've been given in any way I can to give back to my community."
Her childhood, she said, is what propelled her into the work of activism and on track to make history. She added that the city, in which two-thirds of residents are people of color, deserves representation and leadership that can address the pandemic "that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic."
"We need folks who aren't the same political decision-makers but the folks who lead in partnership from the perspective of just people," Maya said. "I do think that this historic moment of several pandemics that have plagued us and we have been struggling to become more healthy around, to cure, to vaccinate and that requires a kind of leadership that is a change-making leadership."
If elected, Maya emphasized her top priorities are to ensure that all New Yorkers can live with dignity and to tackle affordability and homelessness that predated the pandemic.
Another priority of the mayoral candidate she said is to tackle policing in the city. She shared that there are other ways to tackle non-violent offenses and invest in mental health resources.
"We've been relying on police officers to respond to mental health crisis when what we need are mental health crisis professionals. We need student support teams in our schools like social workers, folks who do trauma-informed care. We know that is a better solution than calling police officers into schools for students who are distressed," she said. "It's a way of saying we have to put the public back in public safety and that means investing in the public, investing in communities for what communities need to live healthier and stronger lives."
Determined to become the next mayor after 109 predecessors, 108 of which were white men, Maya still indulges herself during her downtime, admitting to binge watching Netflix.
The New York native revealed she's fan of the streaming platform's new series Bridgerton which has proven itself to be a favorite among fans.
She also shared that she was recently inspired by former First Lady Michelle Obama's book Becoming as she embarks on a historic mayoral race.
"To actually read it is really inspiring and is something I am enjoying particularly as I am running this historic race and listening to the experience of a powerful Black woman who is a leader in her own right," Maya said.
Aware of the importance of following your passion and purpose, as also explored by Obama in her book, Maya spoke candidly with millennials, encouraging them to explore and not be afraid to journey down the path that leads them to fulfillment in their life and careers.
"There are no rules that you have to find one thing and do it for the rest of your life. And if you follow your passion the truth is you'll do things you never thought of before. I never thought I would run for public office," she said. "But my passion for justice and racial justice has been what led me to every single job I had, even ones I didn't expect."