#FLONYC

In poetry, pictures, video, and story, #FLONYC (FLOW-NICE) is an interactive multimedia blog about my work as First Lady and the people I meet.


Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s “My Day,” I'm revamping the column-concept for the digital age. #FLONYC shows faces of New York City and shines a light on stories too often untold.

Domestic violence: Moving from bystanders to ‘UpStanders’

It’s time to stop asking why they stayed and start asking what we can do to help.

There have been many unprecedented conversations about domestic violence these past few months, raising questions about the policies of sports leagues, the mentality of victims and abusers, the role of prosecutors and the responsibilities of employers. Yet, missing from these conversations is the voice of the thousands of victims who experience this violence each day and need support to get help.

Those in abusive relationships often express the feeling of being utterly alone. The pain of that isolation is made more chilling when the victim’s choices are judged—by family or friends, by employers or by the public and media. Until we acknowledge the unequal power dynamics and complexities of abusive relationships, we will continue to blame the victims rather than empower them with the support and encouragement to seek help.

Today, we are asking New Yorkers to take one simple step: to move from being bystanders to “UpStanders.” UpStanders recognize that every person plays a role in preventing domestic violence. We would like every New Yorker to join this effort.

Here’s why.

In the past year, the NYPD responded to more than 284,000 domestic violence incidents—on average, 779 per day. And these are just the reports made to the police. In 2013, there were 62 family-related homicides in New York City. Seventy-five percent of these homicide victims had no prior contact with the NYPD before they were killed.

What does this tell us?

The occurrence of domestic violence is staggering. So far, in 2014, there have been more than 43,000 client visits to the city’s four Family Justice Centers. Throughout New York City, violence in the home is a terrifying reality for thousands of people each day. Statistics show that this violence disproportionately affects women, but that men, older adults, youth and LGBTQ-identified people are also victims of intimate partner violence. Domestic violence not only damages the lives of victims’ children but also makes it more likely that their own children will one day experience the violence of abuse in their homes.

This October, in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the city of New York is launching the UpStander campaign, a call to action to raise awareness about the ways we can prevent or help victims of domestic violence.

Here’s how you can become an UpStander today:

• Recognize and speak out against intimate partner violence, gender injustice and all forms of abuse.

• Speak up when you hear jokes or other statements that promote violence.

• Offer nonjudgmental and unconditional support for someone who has experienced abuse.

• If you are a victim of abuse, get help from an expert, advocate or other professional.

• Employers, attend the NYC Domestic Violence and the Workplace Forum Oct. 16, to learn about best practices for addressing and empowering employees who are victims of domestic violence.

• Contact appropriate resources. Call the New York City Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE, visit nyc.gov/domesticviolence or call 311 to reach the city’s Family Justice Centers. The Family Justice Centers offer civil legal, social and supportive services and access to prosecutors and domestic violence police officers all in one location. Services are free and confidential, regardless of immigration status, language, income, gender identity or sexual orientation. In case of an emergency, call 911 immediately.

It’s all too easy to categorize domestic violence as a family or private matter. Let’s make sure that the national conversation on this issue does not fade away and that together we are the change in ending domestic violence. 

For more information on Family Justice Centers and to register for the Domestic Violence and the Workplace Forum, visit nyc.gov/domesticviolence. For more information on Domestic Violence Awareness Month, follow the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence at @nycagainstabuse.

This op-ed first appeared in Amsterdam News on Friday, October 17, 2014, in partnership with Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

Remarks at Mental Health First Aid Training

Well, thank you, everyone for being here in the Bronx. We appreciate that.

I’d like to begin by thanking everyone at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), especially Commissioner Mary Bassett and Deputy Commissioner Gary Belkin. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do this today.

From the moment I told them that I wanted to gather all our colleagues in the city government for an event focused on mental health, they have been amazingly enthusiastic. This special training is a productive way to recognize World Mental Health Day, and it would never have happened without their support.

The reason this training is so important is simple: Nearly all of us, at some time in our life, will confront mental health and substance use issues.

One in five people will struggle with a mental health crisis this year. If you look around the room, you can see how many people that is.

Maybe it’s a family member. Maybe it’s a friend or co-worker. Maybe it’s a neighbor. Or it could be you, yourself, who finds out what it means to lose your equilibrium.

And yet the broader culture still portrays these conditions and episodes as rare and shameful afflictions. People are not well informed about mental health issues – and that adds to the stigma.

I am troubled by how we continue to sensationalize other people’s pain – sensationalize and exploit other people’s pain. This has to stop. Too many good people are suffering alone. We must sweep away the secrets and the suffering and start an open and ongoing conversation about mental health.

Research has shown that the longer one delays between onset of mental illness and treatment the less likely one is to recover. And that’s why we have to start talking and keep talking and inform as many people as possible about the way to address it and the possible solutions.

I am very pleased to be joined here today by representatives from so many different City agencies – and City Council Member Andy Cohen, who just joined us, thank you. Wherever you work, there is an important role for you to play in helping New Yorkers who struggle with these issues. And it starts with using the information that all of us are gaining right here today.

This training is only one example of the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to helping New Yorkers who are in this kind of pain.

In June, the Mayor announced a Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System. For far too many New Yorkers with mental health and substance use issues, the criminal justice system is a maze they can never escape. The city has made a real commitment to addressing the root causes of this urgent problem.

Again, I want to thank everyone for joining me today. This is an important moment that I hope we can amplify throughout the city. And I challenge each one of you – and myself – to put this knowledge, this information that we are gaining today, into action.

I also hope you’ll encourage your friends to sign up for a Mental Health First Aid class. The classes are very easy to find – just go to mentalhealthfirstaid.org. And also, if you have questions, I encourage you to speak with the many mental health professionals we have with us here today including Betsy Schwartz, who is here from the National Council for Behavioral Health, which is the national sponsor for this training.

It is now my pleasure to invite Commissioner Bassett to say a few words. She’s a native of Harlem with more than 30 years of public health experience, and Mary’s compassion for people suffering from mental health issues is matched only by her passion for helping them and I welcome her.

My Interview with Fortune Magazine

I know many women will agree—when you’re juggling several roles in your life, it can be hard to find the time to sit back and check in with yourself. How is that vow to ‘meet your goals’ coming along? Are you staying true to all your values? This interview with Fortune Magazine allowed me to think about those things.

There’s a portion of the interview below, and you can click here to see my thoughts on everything from running for office, to the surprising gift of growing up an outsider.

Fortune: You have been an ardent supporter of progressive politics. Has becoming the First Lady changed your views at all?

McCray: Becoming First Lady has deepened my commitment to working toward a more progressive and inclusive New York City. Since Bill became Mayor, I have engaged a variety of New Yorkers in discussions about their lives. Many of them grapple with serious hardships, which can often be traced back to systemic inequality. The good news is I’ve also met so many people - teachers, parents, social workers, business leaders - who are working every day to help those who are suffering. This Administration is committed to helping people help themselves, and helping the helpers, too.

13 Questions with Madame Noire

Madame Noire is the kind of publication I wish was around when I was younger. It’s smart, it’s unapologetic, and it articulates the black female experience with a boldness that is important for young women to see. So when they asked me to do an interview for their MN Bosses series, of course I said yes. See a snippet of the article below:

MN: What makes you a boss?
CM: Being a true boss isn’t about authority or org charts – it’s about answering to yourself on the questions that matter most.  Gandhi said it well: “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within.

MN: Can a woman have it all? How do you define that?
CM: I reject the premise behind that question. There is no “all” – but every woman  should be free to choose her own priorities and pursue them.

You read the rest of the interview here.

Lunch with My BigApps Challenge Winners

Every technological advance gives us a new opportunity to do good. That’s why New York needs to help civic-minded New Yorkers take full advantage of this digital revolution. 

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Last Friday, I had the pleasure of eating lunch with the team behind an app doing just that: Appigi. Appigi connects social service providers to the people who need them most.

It’s a great idea, and it might have stayed an idea if not for the help of the BigApps competition, which gives some of New York City’s brightest minds in civic tech a chance to fix one of our city’s most pressing challenges. My BigIdea challenge was for a technology-solution to improve access to mental health services. And, Appigi’s solution blew me away. Click here to see the rest of the winning apps, and who knows — you might be inspired to get involved next year.

My new home on the web: FLO.NYC

It’s moving day for FLONYC! Today, this blog is leaving the days of “dot com” behind and moving on to the newest and coolest destination on the web: “dot nyc” — New York City’s very own top level domain name. And I’m thrilled to be a part of its historic launch. 

In case you missed the backstory here, the .nyc domain is part of the creation of a new class of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that will greatly expand the web’s domain name system. With the historic launch of .nyc, the City of New York has become one of the first cities in the world with a top-level domain, creating a unique opportunity for local businesses, organizations and residents to brand themselves online and to showcase their affiliation with New York City. 

All New Yorkers can apply for their very own .nyc here: ownit.nyc

So what does this mean for FLONYC? The address may have changed but the content and purpose of my home on the web remains the same: to help tell the stories too often untold in our city by documenting and sharing my work as First Lady of New York City.

Update your browser bookmarks and come back to FLO.NYC often!

New York Fashion Week isn’t just about red carpets and runways; it’s about celebrating everyone who makes an adventure out of getting dressed.

To see all these eager children learn and explore makes me so excited for their future! #BacktoSchoolNYC

Tomorrow, Bill and I will send Dante off for the first day of his last year of high school. It’s sure to be a bittersweet moment – this time next year, our not-so-little boy will be starting college. But I won’t be sad for long, because tomorrow also marks a huge victory for 53,000 four-year-olds who are experiencing their first first day of school at a high-quality pre-K program. It’s hard to overstate the importance of New York City’s historic expansion of pre-K. Study after study shows that kids who participate in pre-K do better in school, make smarter social choices, and get better jobs. New York City is now a national leader on early childhood education, and I know we’re going to set a great example. Please join me in wishing the Class of 2028 a fun and productive first day of school.