Maya Wiley is running the race of her life to become New York City’s first Black woman elected mayor. Wiley took time off recently and talked with Blavity about the campaign, police reform and one of her favorite binge-worthy shows, Bridgerton.
Wiley, who is the daughter of activist George Wiley, has spent a number of years as an NYC activist in her own right. She said it was watching her parent’s activism that inspired her to get involved and “use what I’ve been given in any way I can to give back to my community.”
It is that level of activism, Wiley takes with her on the campaign trail when she speaks to constituents about what is going on in NYC.
“We need folks who aren’t the same political decision-makers but the folks who lead in partnership from the perspective of just people,” Wiley 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.”
Not only will Wiley tackle the impact the current pandemic is having on a city that is two-thirds people of color, she will also work on the housing affordability issues and police reform.
The latter is the giant pink elephant in the room facing mayors across the country. However, Wiley doesn’t shy away from talking about reform.
“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,” Wiley said.
She added, “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.”
When she isn’t out campaigning in NYC or working on changing the world, Wiley uses her down time to relax and catch up on some Netflix. One of her favorite shows these days is Bridgerton. She also enjoys reading and found inspiration in former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
The advice Wiley gives to younger generations who are looking to make change and achieve their goals in life is this: “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,” she said.
“I never thought I would run for public office. 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.”