Michael’s initiative is the NYC based Crew Count created to combat an NYPD initiative called Operation Crew Cut, which drastically increased the gang database in NY by over 40,000 people who are overwhelmingly people of color. Mind Wide Open is partnering today with Crew Count to raise funds to continue the important work they are doing in the most challenging NYC neighborhoods. Their goal is to create educational, employment and other opportunities to lower the numbers of kids that are getting involved in gangs.
The pair also delve into subjects including systemic oppression, prison reform, women in prison, and mental health challenges. Michael reveals his own struggles with intergenerational trauma, how therapy has helped him and how he still loves the neighborhoods in and around NYC where he grew up.
He told Lily, “It’s imperative that we start to allow space for our young people to recognize that nothing about systemic racism is normal and the trauma that comes from that is not normal. It’s okay to say that we’re hurting and asking for help.”
Michael is his authentic self, talking candidly about himself but also about other initiatives he is involved with including helping Women of color. Michael recounts a trip to visit a relative in prison where he noticed that the vast majority of people taking the bus were visiting the men’s prison, while there were far fewer people visiting the women’s prison.
He says, “When women go to prison, we forget about them. They’re left there to deal with all sorts of abuse. I’m just starting to unpack that and becoming more verbal about lifting up our women in our communities.”
Lily says, “It elevates Mind Wide Open and my mission in welcoming Michael K. Williams today. His work toward systemic change, racial justice, and focus on the importance of mental health exemplify everything I could hope to achieve with the series. He is a force for change, honesty, and authenticity. If you are able to donate any amount to Crew Count, please do.”
In season two of Mind Wide Open, Lily has conversations coming up with renowned artists, activists, mental health professionals, and others. The show will be on IGTV every other Tuesday at 12 noon ET and is now available as a podcast on Spotify and Apple as well as on YouTube with subtitles available in Spanish and English.
Past shows featured Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Grief expert/Author David Kessler, activist, musician, author Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, Singer/songwriter Fantastic Negrito, actor-activist Brittany Snow, Allison Hagendorf Global Head of Rock at Spotify, TV Icon/Author Matt Pinfield, Dr. Laura van Dernoot Lipsky of the Trauma Stewardship in Seattle, Alicia Bognanno of Bully, Dr. Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel and founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, TikTok/Instagram influencer Sir Carter, Guns N’ Roses bassist, Duff McKagan, and Monique Minahan, founder of The Grief Practice among others.