Chirlane McCray opens up about motherhood, feminism in New York magazine

Chirlane McCray told New York magazine that she will
Chirlane McCray told New York magazine that she will “feel guilt forever more” about her early years as a mother. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Chirlane McCray spoke frankly about mother in an interview in New York magazine published Monday, saying she has “guilt forever more” after not spending more time with daughter Chiara when she was first born.

“I was 40 years old,” McCray told New York. “I had a life. Especially with Chiara—will we feel guilt forever more? Of course, yes. But the truth is, I could not spend every day with her. I didn’t want to do that. I looked for all kinds of reasons not to do it. I love her. I have thousands of photos of her—every one-month birthday, two-month birthday. But I’ve been working since I was 14, and that part of me is me. It took a long time for me to get into ‘I’m taking care of kids’ and what that means.'”

After son Dante was born in 1997, McCray temporarily stopped working full-time—around the same time de Blasio started working for the Clinton administration.

“I don’t think it’s about ‘leaning in,'” McCray said to New York. “In this day and age, it comes down to improving life, for girls, especially young girls—improving the numbers of opportunities, the kind of opportunities. But it’s not just about opportunities anymore. Violence against women is a huge issue. A good feminist should be working on that—making the world safer for girls and women, wherever they live … We have to think about the state of women in a more holistic way going forward. We can’t be segregated by class and race as we have been. Because even the women at the top can do something about violence against women, right?”

On Monday, de Blasio called the New York Post and Daily News’ coverage of the article “inappropriate.” The Post called McCray a “bad mother” on the cover.

“I think both the Post and the Daily News owe Chirlane an apology,” de Blasio said.

McCray and de Blasio married in 1994, when McCray was pregnant with Chiara. As New York notes, in de Blasio’s time as mayor, he has described McCray as his “No. 1 adviser” and “understand Chirlane, you’ll understand me.” The de Blasio administration has dispelled the rumors that they are “co-mayors,” with aide Emma Wolfe saying “the mayor is the mayor.”

The wide-ranging article also addresses McCray’s activist youth as an African-American feminist lesbian, and the essay she wrote when she was 25 for Essence magazine, titled “I Am a Lesbian” and with the lofty goal of bringing together young women of color. McCray has rejected the term “labels” in the past, saying last year “I am more than just a label. Labels put people in boxes, and these boxes are shaped like coffins.”

“I can’t help who I am,” McCray told New York. “The only thing that’s different is that we’re in positions of power now, where we have the tools to actually make things better for people.”