This Mother’s Day weekend, 30 incarcerated mothers around the country will be released and reunited with their families thanks to Black Lives Matter activists.
According to The Nation, organizers from Southerners on New Ground (SONG), the Movement for Black Lives, ColorOfChange, and other groups have raised over $250,000 for National Mama’s Bail Out Day. The initiative will pay for the release of Black women who are currently in pretrial detention for “low-level offenses such as loitering or small-scale drug possession.”
Sixty percent of incarcerated women have children under 18, which accounts for 2.6 million American children growing up without their mothers present, according to The New York Times. But Mary Hooks, the organizer who created the framework for National Mama’s Bail Out Day and serves as the co-director of SONG, also made an emphasis on expanding on the idea of who qualifies as a mother.
Sixty percent of incarcerated women have children under 18, which accounts for 2.6 million American children growing up without their mothers present.
“When we talk about Black mamas, we know that mothering happens in a variety of ways,” Hooks said. “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.”
“The idea comes from the fact that it takes a village,” Kayla Reed, volunteer at St. Louis Action Council told CASSIUS. “You grow up with [mothers] who are blood-related and those which you choose. They’ve been part of your growth and development and we want to honor those women who might not have been our biological mothers, but maybe we call them aunties or cousins. They’ve been supportive of their tribe and have taken on the role of a mother in other facets.”
The bail out will free at least 30 Black women in Atlanta, St. Louis, Houston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and other cities across the country. Reed says plans have been put in place to ensure the mothers will have support after they are released. The organization will be working with the mothers to help them reintegrate, find stable housing and employment, and make sure their cases are going to court with proper legal representation.
“Ultimately, we’re leaning towards the larger demand of ending cash bail completely because it really is a class based system that unfairly punishes those who don’t have money,” Reed explained. “You have repeat offenders because you get a ticket for not having insurance, but you’re either paying for insurance or necessary things like housing, food, and child care.”
What Reed wants people to take from this action is what she believes the Black Lives Matter movement is truly rooted in: love.
“We’re really trying to figure out ways to help our communities and build back up what’s been broken and stolen from us,” she said. “I think this is one of those actions that highlight that our movements are centered in love and liberation. People should not be kept in cages, they should be able to live full and dignified lives and be able to see their children. These demands aren’t radical ideas.”