Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

Mama’s Day Bail Out

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May 4, 2017

Though we’ve had a rocky past during the typical teen angst years, my mother is my best friend. She’s my shoulder to cry on, she’s my inspiration. She accepts me even when I’m at my worst, and she taught me the value of unconditional love. Smart, and driven, my mother was also the first person to teach me about being #AbortionPositive and unapologetically pro-choice. Since my childhood was spent in an often conservative Catholic school, my mom spent the time outside of school to teach me about progressive politics, bodily autonomy, and the value of pro-choice legislation. Without my mom, I couldn’t be the person that I am today.

This is why it saddens me that so many of our country’s Black mothers are incarcerated, and won’t get to spend these important years with their children. This country thrives on arresting, dehumanizing, and incarcerating Black women for drug offenses, and non-violent crimes. The United States has a mass incarceration problem, in fact more people are imprisoned here than any country in the world. While women are in jail they are faced with inhumane conditions, abuse, and violation of human rights. Once they are out of prison, they lack a stable support system that aims to help integrate them into society. They also face a stigma that prevents them from having access to a stable and “legal” source of income. This begins a cycle that is hard to end.

The reproductive justice framework was created by Black women, and does not exist without necessary discussions about race, violence, and access to power. The incarceration of mothers is a reproductive justice issue because mothers behind bars lack the support to raise their children in a way they see is just. Women in prison also face unreliable and often painful reproductive health services. Trans women are often put in prisons that do not align with their gender, and are the most abused. They are also targeted for minor and made-up offenses, because the criminal justice system is searching for a way to criminalize existing while trans in public. Sex workers are imprisoned and unable to support their families. The school to prison pipeline disproportionately impacts little Black girls. Black girls are also imprisoned after defending themselves from their abusers.

There are a plethora of problems with the United States prison system, which is why many (including myself) are calling for an eradication of it all. We are asking for a world without prisons, and a world that actually focuses on restorative justice. We are asking for an end to the police state, and the imprisonment and shootings of people of color. While this can’t happen overnight, there are several organizations who are dedicated to women’s issues in prison. This Mother’s Day, I ask that you take the time to learn more about these organizations, share information about them, and even donate.

One of these organizations is Southerners on New Ground (SONG). In coalition with other racial justice organizations, SONG has organized a national Mama’s Day Bail Out action. Taken from their website:

The National Black Mama’s Bail Out Day Action is part of the growing movement to end mass criminalization and modern bondage. It is rooted in the history of Black liberation, inspired by the enslaved Africans and Black people who used their collective resources to purchase each other’s freedom. Through this action, we will support birth mothers, trans mothers, and other women who mother and are entangled in the criminal legal system. We’re fundraising in our local communities and across the South to help bring as many Black mamas and caregivers as we can for Mother’s Day to give them an opportunity to spend Mother’s day with their families, highlight the human costs of inhumane and destructive bail practices, and support local base-building on the frontlines of mass incarceration.

You can support the awesome work that SONG is doing here.


Image by Graham Crumb/Imagicity.com via Wikimedia Commons

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