As the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd brought about a racial reckoning in the summer of 2020 that would not just shake the United States, but also the world, some marched and called for a defunding of the police. Others made supporting Black-owned businesses a priority in ways they hadn’t before. A number provided financial resources to organizations fighting for social justice. Many were moved — to act, to speak out, to do something. Grammy-winning singer Macy Gray was one of those people. With three adult children of her own, her immediate thoughts were of the grieving parents.
“Beyond the critical issues and everybody’s view on all of it, I think losing a kid would probably be the worst thing that could happen to anybody,” she tells ESSENCE. “And so my first thought was just, the moms, the parents, the dads and what they go through.”
After attempting to reach out to the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, she was able to get connected with Oscar Grant‘s mom and felt compelled to be of support to as many women like them as possible. Seeking to do so in a significant way, she brought the idea of starting a non-profit organization to good friends Charyn Harris and Grace Blake, who said “hell yeah” to it. That’s how the trio created My Good in July of 2020. Raising funds through charitable endeavors, from partnerships with sustainable footwear companies to events featuring Gray’s famous friends, My Good has been able to provide financial assistance to families whose loved ones were victims of police violence. That includes covering bills, helping them obtain health insurance, and even providing housing for a mom who found herself living in her car. In addition to that, what sets the organization apart is that they help provide these families with access to mental health services through counselors and the financial assistance to see therapists of their choice.
“My Good is here to provide assistance and connect families with a network of grief specialists who can work with them through their trauma,” say Harris and Blake, co-executive directors, in a joint statement. “We are partnering with mental health experts and organizations to facilitate the development of targeted mental health programs. Our goal is to create a community for family members in mourning to come together virtually to share, give voice to, and support each other through this difficult time.”
Gray went further in explaining why that is so essential for the loved ones left behind. Many find themselves so immersed in grief that they can’t maintain relationships with partners and in some cases, are unable to work.
“Most of the families that we talk to, of course their tragedy is there, but the aftermath is the worst thing,” she says. “You know, the depression and the losing everything and going in court and not getting any kind of justice. That’s heavy. It brings people down and it’s overwhelming.”
“I’m in awe of how they all live through this so we offer mental health services as number one, it’s important for everyone,” she adds. “But I think when you lose so big, that’s the first thing that you need. Because if you’re mentally healthy then you can do all the other stuff. But if you don’t have that, then it’s really hard to get anything done or be happy, or contribute, or anything.”
The non-profit stays in touch with families while also assisting new ones, including those of lesser-reported victims. Police have, for the record, shot and killed more than 1,000 people in 2020 alone across the U.S., so there are more cases happening than are shared publicly. But Gray makes clear that the work they do isn’t about being anti-police. It’s all about being pro-family.
“It’s not about hating the police or wanting to go against policing or having any kind of stance on that really. It’s just to make the point that regardless of what happens in a situation, who shot who or why, who shot who, or who ran or who had a knife, he still had a family who lost big time,” she says. “And so that’s who we’re here for. And of course everybody has opinions on that and political views and bills to get passed and stuff, and it has a long way to go. But My Good is here for the families.”
My Good recently made it to a year old, and in the short amount of time it’s been up and running, they’ve done plenty to help families rebuild. Gray, Harris and Blake have plans for the future, including possibly developing an interactive app that would “help to monitor and galvanize the family member’s wellness.” But the singer says the true goal is that changes can be put in place so that her organization can become obsolete. The organization is currently working with a data company to track police shootings, get “real data” as she says, so that the reality of what’s occurring way too often in this country can no longer be ignored.
“If you have numbers, if you say, ‘when a police officer has been working for 20 years, he’s less likely to do this or whatever,’ then they can adjust and they can adjust the training. They can adjust everything really,” she says. “So my goal is just to acclimate myself to all the work and be able to really contribute and really be a proper support for the families and be a real foundation and be there financially so that we can support as many families as we can. But there’s also a goal to change things. I guess, we’re not anti-police, but we do want to not be needed in two years. You know, not be necessary.”
For more information, visit Mygood.org.