I sent this email to my mother the week of Mother’s Day 2019. I also sent it to 60 other folks who make up my family, friends, and team. Feel free to copy, paste, modify, and send to your friends and family too. Bailing out mommas who don’t deserve to be in the prison system in the first place is important work and doesn’t end on mother’s day.
First of all, thanks for being my mom. I’ve loved being part of growing with you throughout my entire life, but especially in the past few years. We’ve come a long way and I’m so committed to the act of loving you as I know you are to loving me too. There are so many parts of our life together that I cherish - from the daffodil man, to the recipes, and life-isms, and the cape, and flowers, and summer jeans (you should know however, I turned those into a pair of perfect summer shorts today!). I am so grateful that you immerse yourself in stuff that’s really important to me - thank you for getting uncomfortable with me over and over again.
This year, in your honor, I’ve made a donation to something that’s really important to me - it’s called The National Bail Out. National Bail Out is "a collective of Black organizers committed to building a community based movement to end pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration.” And what donating does at this particular time of year (this is an ongoing project) is helps bail out folks in time for mother’s day - in time to be with their families. Folks are often held in jail before their trial even happens, before they’re proven guilty or innocent, simply because they can’t pay a bail… and that’s some real homegrown American bullshit… about as American as it gets if we’re being really honest. It can take months and sometimes even years. And that shouldn’t happen to anyone. Especially a mother. And ESPECIALLY a child.
From what I’ve been learning, there are a lot of systems out there to keep some of us “free" - more importantly though, what that seems to mean is that in order for some of us to be “free," others of us have to not be free. And what I believe to be true about freedom is that THAT doesn’t make sense. Audre Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
God knows I don’t know what’s best for everyone, but what I DO know is that I have been given an incredible gift - a life WITH my mother - and though we argue and hurt each other, Mom, I’m better because of you and I’ve grown into a better woman than I could have possibly been without you. I’m not afraid of arguing with you because I know that you’ll always be there and I hope you know the same with me. Also, I GET to argue with you because you’re here. Because I can call you whenever I want. And because I can visit and eat cheese and crackers and choose my birthday cake.
SO HERE’S MY FIRST ASK: On behalf of your mother. On behalf of your child. On behalf of love, and caring, and seeing, and action, please make a donation to National Bail Out before Mother’s Day.
If you have any questions about this please feel free to reach out.
*Unpopular opinion*: I also support the Reply-All button here because this is an important conversation and although my inbox is always overwhelming as I’m sure yours is too, we can do hard things. Also, if you don’t want to read any of them you can just click delete. You’ve got choice here…
HERE’S MY NEXT-STEP ASK: PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR MOTHER AND CC ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND ASK THEM TO DO THE SAME. GO AHEAD, COPY AND PASTE. Please also feel free to simply forward any of this to anyone.
You may donate via this link: https://database.southernersonnewground.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=17 - and choose any of the following cities and your money will go directly to supporting that local action: Nashville, Richmond, Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Durham, Greensboro, Knoxville, and Wilmington.
This is what SOUTHERNERS ON NEW GROUND have to say about National Bail Out:
This Mother's Day, we are bailing out as many Black women, broadly defined, across the South as we can. More than often, people are sitting in cages because they cannot afford to pay bail. SONG crews will be participating in bail outs along with holding events to discuss the devastating impact of money bail and pre-trial incarceration on our communities.
We ask you to donate to SONG to connect Black families and loved ones and highlight the inhumane and destructive bail practices.
Contributions will be used to bail out Black women, and to support continuing on-the-ground organizing of participating grassroots organizations. All resources we get that are not used for the action will be saved for future bail outs or to advance long-term liberation work in our communities! Across the Southeast, we see bail outs as an ongoing tactic to build a base, to expose the crisis of cash bail and the beast that is the criminal-legal system, to change hearts and minds, to make real and material impacts on the lives of our people, and to build power.”
Thank you for loving me. And thank you for loving each other.
I love you Momma.
Happy Mother’s Day.