In this, The Greatest Nation on Earth™, a full 62 percent of incarcerated humans aren’t imprisoned because they’ve actually been convicted of a crime: They’re locked up because they can’t afford to pay bail. And—huge surprise—a large percentage of those people festering in jail while awaiting trial are black women. Black women are twice as likely as white women to be jailed and they now make up 44 percent of incarcerated women while accounting for less than 7 percent of the overall population. Many of those women are awaiting trial for low-level offenses like minor drug possession and loitering, and this includes an awful lot of moms: nearly 8 in 10 incarcerated women are mothers. This has a huge and terrible impact on both moms and their kids, who are far more likely to be separated from their families and end up living in foster care or even homeless after a mom is imprisoned—all because she can’t afford to pay bail.
For this year’s Mother’s Day, activists are coming together to fight back: Black Lives Matter, ColorOfChange, Southerners on New Song, the Black Alliance for Justice Immigration, and other groups have banded together to raise bail money for incarcerated mothers, a movement they are calling National Mama’s Bail Out Day.
The organizers have already reached their $250,000 goal and have committed to bailing out at least 30 women in Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and other cities around the US in time for Mother’s Day. They are also holding parties, fundraisers, and other events, with proceeds going to help bail out more moms.
The organizers’ website reads: “In the tradition of our enslaved Black ancestors, who used their collective resources to purchase each other’s freedom before slavery was abolished, until we abolish bail and mass incarceration, we’re gonna free ourselves.”
And you can help them out: This year, skip the Mother’s Day brunch and donate your mimosa money to help more mothers get home to their kids. Your own mom would be proud.