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Written by Arisha Hatch, vice president for Color Of Change


This Mother's Day, like so many recent days, brought both grief and clarity. As Black communities bury loved ones taken by the virus, we’ve been forced to find the strength to continue fighting to have racist vigilantes prosecuted for taking mother’s sons.

Just before the state of California went into lockdown in March, my father died after months in the hospital. My family is so grateful for the weeks-long bedside vigil we were able to keep in my father’s hospital room. My heart breaks for the tens of thousands of Black families who’ve been denied that kind of loving goodbye. Even in her grief, my mother has held our family together, caring for my newborn nephew and homeschooling my niece, while we’ve all sheltered in place together.

As my family gratefully celebrated my mom this Mother’s Day, I was left to think of the thousands of Black people who were denied their mothers this weekend — not because of a virus, but because of racist, unjust carceral systems that target Black mothers and value money more than family. We spent this Mother’s Day, as we have the past several years, working to bring those mothers home from jail.

As Vice President of Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization (with more than 1.7 million members), over the past three years our members have donated more than 3 million dollars to National Bail Out and the #FreeBlackMamas campaign. I work with a committed team who lead campaigns all year round demanding equity and justice from inherently racist and broken systems. But over the past several years I can honestly say I look forward to #FreeBlackMamas, a brilliant campaign that happens every Mother's Day.

Since 2017 the campaign, led by National Bail Out, has raised money to pay bail and bring Black mothers home from jail. These are women who have been deemed safe for release, but simply can't afford it, even as scientists and health officials tell us that release is their best hope at surviving a pandemic.

#FreeBlackMamas is a call to action, to all of us. It calls us to do more than send flowers or call our mothers; it demands that we take action to defend and tangibly support the mothers who form the bedrock of our communities.

By bailing out Black mamas and providing supportive services once they are free, Black Mama’s Bail Out  encourages us all to dream of a world where no one is imprisoned because they are too poor to pay for their release. A world where caregivers aren't just celebrated as symbols, but are supported and given access to healthy food, affordable housing, transportation, fair wages and health care they need to raise children who can thrive.  A world that works to end the systems that surveil, criminalize and incarcerate Black people.

#FreeBlackMamas is a campaign that happens every May, but every other day of the year we are doing the work to build a world where Black people are free. This is the world we need to survive this pandemic. It’s the world we need to avoid making the same decisions in the future that led to this crisis in the first place.

Here are some things you can do to join #TheBlackResponse to COVID-19 and fight for Black Mothers this week and beyond:

1. Donate to the Black Mama’s Bail Out.

2. Take or share the national survey for people with incarcerated loved ones.

3. Demand telecommunications companies stop charging families with incarcerated loved ones exorbitant prices for phone calls when prisons are on lockdown.