This Mother’s Day, the Black Lives Matter movement is working to bail as many mothers out of jail as possible and get them back home to their families in time for the holiday.
Organizers with the Movement for Black Lives, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), Color of Change and other groups have successfully raised over $250,000 for what they’ve dubbed National Mama’s Bail Out Day, The Nation reported. The money will be used for the release of women jailed for low-level offenses such as loitering and small-scale drug possession, giving at least 30 women in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Houston and several other nationwide cities their freedom back.
“When we talk about Black mamas, we know that mothering happens in a variety of ways,” said Mary Hooks, co-director of the Atlanta-based LGBTQ liberation group SONG, who came up with the idea for the national bailout campaign. “Whether it’s the mothers in the clubs who teach the young kids how to vogue or the church mothers who took care of me.”
Women who are birth mothers or chosen mothers are eligible to be bonded out, Hooks told The Nation. Nonwhite women who are struggling to make bail are also encouraged to apply for financial assistance.
The publication highlighted that these women are among the 62 percent of people in jail who haven’t been convicted of a crime but remain there because they simply cannot afford to get out. Moreover, 44 percent of jailed women are African-American.
“We don’t have a large Black population in Arizona, but even here, we manage to get pulled into the system at ridiculously high rates,” said local organizer Lola Rainey, who works with the Black Lives Matter-Tucson chapter.
The Phoenix New Times reported that the local branch has raised more than $1,800 to bail out mothers and caregivers currently detained at the Pima County Jail. Although Black people comprise just 9.6 percent of the jail’s population, they’re nearly three times as likely to end up in jail compared to other racial groups, Rainey said.
The Black Lives Matter-Memphis chapter also launched a drive to raise $35,000 for the nationwide bailout. Local station News Channel 3 reported that the group is focusing its efforts on Shelby County, where over 270 women are in jail awaiting trial. Their goal is to help get as many women as possible back home in time for Mother’s Day.
“If you’re a Black mama, you’re in jail, you talking to us, then you’re eligible,” organizer Erica Perry told the news station. “We’re asking our community members to think how they spend Mother’s Day, how they celebrate and honor the women they love.”
Arissa Hall, a National Mama’s Bail Out Day organizer and project manager at the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, echoed Perry’s sentiments, adding that not all mothers, particularly Black mothers, have been granted the title of motherhood.
“All mothers are not celebrated,” Hall told The Nation, noting how this is especially true for nonwhite women who struggle with addiction, poverty and mental health issues. These are usually the same women who crowd jails across the U.S.
“We don’t force our court system to do what it’s actually supposed to do, which is give people a fair trial,” she said.