A Labor of Love: Black Mama’s Bail Out Action

“When Black mamas are taken from our communities and put in cages, we all suffer.”
MARY HOOKS, SONG CO-DIRECTOR

SONG crews and political family across the region bailed out Black mothers across the region this week. Over 3,000 of you have donated to SONG’s Black Mama’s Bail Out Fund in the last three weeks. Thank you! From Little Rock, AR, to Charlottesville, VA, and across the country, hundreds and thousands of our people have put in the work to make this action possible. From fundraising on the street, stuffing gift baskets, countless late night meetings, jail visits, filing open records requests and navigating the dizzying intricacies of local jails you all helped make this vision a reality. When we say our people, we mean Black, Latinx, people of color, undocumented, poor, white, rural and urban and working class LGBTQ folks and allies that exemplify the power and practice of a multiracial, multigenerational kinship network with a solidarity that we call unity to support and follow the vision of Black leadership.

These actions are in honor of the Black mothers, known and unknown, that sacrificed, worked long hours, put themselves last and continue to act as the foundation for their chosen family, loved ones and communities. While Black mothers act beyond measure for our communities, they are often targeted by criminal legal system. This very system attempts to destabilize fabric of all of our communities because it was not meant to protect or represent us.

We were called to collectively welcome home, center and support Black mothers. We joined several organizations nationally to build power and bail Black mothers out of cages. The criminal legal system justifies money bail as a tool to hold individuals accountable. Across identity, money bail is yet another tool used to hold our people hostage simply because they cannot pay bail and inevitably pushing our people deeper into the criminal legal system.

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Photo credit: Lovette Thompson

SONG is a political home, kinship network, and family of LGBTQ people. Often the ties that bind us have been and are upheld by the many queer and trans women in our midst. For decades, queer and trans women have been creating our own support systems and chosen family based on survival work, organizing, balls and pageants. As Black queer and transgender women are targeted for simply existing, we have to honor our existence with support by going toe to toe with the very system that targets us. The concept of buying each other’s freedom is not new, but it is a tradition laid out as a pathway from our ancestors. We take up the collective responsibility to free Black mothers to fulfill the mandate set forth by our ancestors to abolish systems of oppression that keep our people in modern day bondage. This pathway created by our ancestors crosses identity as it calls us to reject anti-blackness, anti-immigrant, and homophobic and transphobic sentiments and actions simultaneously. As we collectively buy our freedom, we are also called to collectively build alternatives to policing to protect and defend our communities with the same momentum.

While we bailed out Black Mamas, a bill, SB4, was signed and passed in Texas reflecting the same anti-immigrant rhetoric spewed from this current administration. In the state of Texas, SB4 punishes law enforcement officials who refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to immigration enforcement. More than often, law enforcement collaborates with ICE to police and detain undocumented folks. This piece of legislation explicitly solidifies law enforcement and ICE collaborations. In this moment, we are simultaneously reminded that our communities are called to act on each other’s behalf. We understand we are taking a shared risk to reap a shared reward, because we have a shared destiny.

We are just getting started. To end money bail and disable the framework of the prison and criminal legal system system it will take everyone playing a role to make it happen. While this endeavor is Black-led and centers Black mothers, we are all tied to this effort. We cannot forget our political and spiritual conviction ties us to act.

Over 100 Black mothers were bailed out across the country. In these cities, SONG members bailed out 41 Black mothers!

Atlanta, GA
Durham, NC
Charlotte, NC
Kinston, NC

Participating SONG solidarity sites provided political education, fundraised and acted as a resource for mothers on the inside.

Richmond, VA
Charlottesville, VA
Nashville, TN

As we focused on connecting Black mothers with their families in time for Mother’s Day, love and support poured out from across the country. From the mainstream media to organizational newsletters, to SONG members and allies helping to share the donation link, to the twitter town hall we hosted, to the homecoming gatherings across the South, you all showed up for Black Mamas. And for that, we cannot say thank you enough.

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This interview above features SONG Co-Director Mary Hooks and Bonita Lacy of Healing Hearts on Politics Nation with Al Sharpton. They discuss the details and scale of Black Mama’s Bail Out Action on a local and national level.

This interview above feature mother-daughter duo, Courtney and Serena Sebring on WUNC 91.5’s The State of Things. They discuss the details and importance of Black Mama’s Bail Out Action in triangle area of North Carolina.