Why activists are joining forces to bail black mothers out of jail.

This week, more than 30 black women from across the country will receive the best Mother's Day gift of all: freedom.

They are among the more than half a million people (20% of the U.S. prison population) currently sitting in jail cells who have not been convicted of a crime, largely due to their inability to make bail. Some of these people are left to languish behind bars for days, weeks, months, and even years simply because they're poor.

Black women make up 44% of the female jail population though they are only 13% of the U.S. female population. Mass incarceration is devastating regardless of gender, but women are more likely to be primary caregivers, so many of these locked cells represent families torn apart.


A woman hugs her daughter at the California Institute for Women state prison. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters.

Thankfully, people across the country are joining forces to do something about this miscarriage of justice.

Mama's Bail Out Day is a coordinated effort to bail black women out of local jails while they await trial.

It's a practice that dates back to the era of American slavery, when black people would pool their resources together to buy each other's freedom.

More than a dozen organizations, including Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Color of Change, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), and local Black Lives Matter groups, came together to bring this idea to life, launching a nationwide online crowdfunding effort to buy freedom for these women and coordinating days of action against the bail system.

Pre-trial detention substantially increases the likelihood criminal conviction, mostly through the increase in guilty pleas to avoid even more time in jail. These convictions can have lasting effects on future employment, housing, and custody.

Ensuring these women can pay bail means families can stay together and black women get a better shot at justice. At home, there are more goodnight kisses. Fewer days of lost wages. More food on the table. There are no limits to the positive ripples that roll off this simple action.

A woman hugs her daughter at California Institute for Women state prison. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters.  

So far, more than $250,000 has been raised for bail money, reuniting a small handful of women and their families.

These women will finally get to return to their communities, careers, and loved ones. It's a small step toward equal justice for black women, but for their families, it's absolutely everything.

"Whether it’s the mothers in the clubs who teach the young kids how to vogue, or the church mothers who took care of me," said Mary Hooks co-director of SONG, in an interview with The Nation. That's why Mama's Bail Out Day is intersectional, supporting queer, trans, disabled, immigrant, and non-traditional mothers; maternal care is not limited to one experience.

A mother and daughter wait to get visitors passes to see the girl's father at Folsom State Prison. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters.

There's still time to contribute to the effort and give the gift of a second chance.

The system might not be set up to help these women, but we can.

Share the video, or if you're able, make a donation. Let's bring these mamas home and work to end the use of bail money for good.

An incarcerated mother hugs her children at California Institute for Women. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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