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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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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