The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every aspect of our society and exposing deep, systemic inequalities that are killing Black people. As the news changes minute-to-minute, BET and Color Of Change are teaming up to make sure Black people have the clear and focused information we need to get help, take action and support the hardest hit in our communities.
This week, with Mother’s Day just behind us, I’m thinking about all the ways we can step up so that we don’t let Black women down. Our mothers, aunties and nieces, sisters and girlfriends are the heart and soul of our hospitals, our government workforce and our communities. But for all their essential work, our society often prioritizes profits over family, continuing to exploit our mothers and neglect their essential needs. We’ve sent flowers and thank you cards in time for Mother’s Day, but now it’s time to fight to protect and tangibly support our mothers, especially during the pandemic.
One place to start is in U.S. prisons that are experiencing some of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. Lisa Clinton is one Black mom who was taken from her children and imprisoned in 2018. The courts agreed she should be released but then trapped her in jail by setting a bail she couldn’t afford. People like you heard her story and paid her bail through the National Bail Out project. Today, Lisa is one of the leaders of the annual Mother’s Day project. “As a Black mother, it has been my duty to continue the work of what was so freely done for me,” Lisa said. To me that’s what Mother's Day is really about.
This week in #TheBlackResponse to COVID-19, we’re looking at the tangible ways to support Black mamas on Mother’s day and beyond.
At any moment, about half a million people in the U.S. are imprisoned; not because they’ve been convicted of a crime, but because they are too poor to afford bail. This year National Bail Out, a Black-led collective started the annual #FreeBlackMamas bail outs early, to save Black mothers from a possible death sentence as COVID-19 outbreaks spread rapidly in jails nationwide. You can donate today to help us make this year their largest bail-out ever.
Too many Black mothers must endure having their children ripped away by racist vigilantes in our country. Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, is leading a movement to demand justice for her son, a 26-year-old Black man who was stalked, shot and killed while jogging in Georgia. Two district attorneys mishandled recused themselves from prosecuting, so we’re demanding they step down and allow us to replace them with prosecutors who will protect Black people. Sign the petition #JusticeForAhmaud to ensure justice for unarmed Black men shot and killed by the police.
The frontlines of this crisis starts in our homes. To show solidarity with the women caregivers and domestic workers who perform the essential work of care everyday, you can join the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s “Rosie the Riveter” selfie challenge. You can share your picture on Instagram and Twitter with #RosieChallenge and tag three friends to do the same.
Food deserts are most often found in Black communities, so providing Black families with the opportunity to use their SNAP benefits online is an essential way to help Black mothers, often the sole caretakers, to safely stay home. Safeway relies on business from Black SNAP benefits recipients, so you can sign the petition that asks this multi-million dollar company to step up for our mothers.
Mass incarceration has become a death sentence for inmates who usually cannot socially distance or even get access to basic cleaning materials like soap. Several mothers of imprisoned people have started the“Lives on the Line” project to fight to bring their loved ones home. If you have a loved one in prison, fill out the national survey for people with incarcerated loves ones to help them best advocate for their release during COVID-19.
Rashad Robinson is President of Color Of Change, a leading racial justice organization with more than 1.7 million members that design winning strategies to build power for Black communities. Rashad appears regularly in major news media and as a keynote speaker nationally. You can find him on Twitter @RashadRobinson.
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