Racial justice activists are bailing black moms out of jail for Mother’s Day
Racial justice activists nationwide are uniting to bring incarcerated black moms home to their children for Mother’s Day.
Through Mama’s Bail Out Day — which is actually an entire week of action — activists are fundraising bail money for black mothers who are currently being held in jail, many for minor offenses. The Movement for Black Lives, Black Lives Matter, and several other racial justice organizations behind the effort hope to bail out as many incarcerated black mothers as possible in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.
"Our mamas are not disposable," Ruth Jeannoel, a community activist with Mama’s Bail Out Day, says in a PSA. "We need them back in our communities. They bring us love, justice, healing, and compassion."
In pooling donations together, the organizations have already raised more than $250,000, and plan to raise more up until May 14. Bail outs have been happening around the country this week, including in Houston, Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Baltimore.
"In the tradition of our enslaved black ancestors, who used their collective resources to purchase each other’s freedom before slavery was abolished … we’re gonna free ourselves," the Mama’s Bail Out Day website reads.
Black women make up 44 percent of all incarcerated women in the U.S., and they’re twice as likely as white women to be jailed. According to the coalition, 8 in 10 incarcerated women are mothers.
The bail out is inclusive of all black mothers, especially those who have many marginalized identities, like moms with disabilities and LGBTQ moms. Many of the mothers Mama’s Bail Out Day plans to free aren’t actually convicted of crimes. Rather, they’re awaiting trial for low-level misdemeanors — like drug offenses and loitering — and simply can’t afford to post bail in exchange for their freedom.
After all, posting bail requires financial privilege, which black prisoners are less likely to have due to economic inequality.
"Even a few days in jail can ruin a woman’s life," the Mama’s Bail Out Day website reads. "She may lose her job, her family may lose their housing and some even lose their children."
The coalition also compiled a list of demands for state and federal law enforcement agencies on their website, addressing bail practices and mass incarceration. These demands include less reliance on bond in exchange for freedom and restorative justice programs for at-risk youth.
But, for now, the immediate focus is on getting mamas home to celebrate Mother’s Day with their children.
"Our mothers deserve restorative justice, healing, and reconciliation," Jeannoel says. "Some of them have made mistakes. Some of them get caught up in the system despite their best efforts. All of them should be home. Our people are being held hostage."