Love, Faith and Black Mamas Bailout

By Caitlin Breedlove

It was raining yesterday in Atlanta as I was driving to the Fulton County Jail. It’s in the city of Atlanta, but the state has found a way to make it feel far from almost everyone, and close to almost nothing, so the drive took me a while and I had some time to think.

As I drove with some supplies in my rental car, I thought about how in my life as an organizer and leader I don’t really have that many days where I can draw a direct line from what I am doing to my deepest drive in life: the pursuit of liberation for all communities, starting with all those gorgeous and resilient peoples who are scapegoats and cast outs of those in power.

The opportunity yesterday to move money and supplies to SONG‘s efforts for the Black Mamas Bailout meant that I got to practice what I preach: being there for Black women held in cages because they can’t make bail, being there when organizing got them out. Being there for liberation as an idea not in the hypothetical, but in the lives of a few individual women.

While at the jail I hear stories of families offering up their houses as collateral to get their loved ones out. I see how many hours pass between when women are bailed out and when the jail finally allows them to come meet us outside where we have food, flowers, fancy toiletries, case managers who can talk through the women’s situations, drivers who are ready to take them wherever they want to go.

To be honest, my biggest struggle working in faith communities is when they just don’t feel very faithful: seduced by the same egos, vanities, and competitive impulses as the secular world.

To stay in my faith, I have to live my faith: and these are the ways I do it. With my actions, working each day to be who I claim I am. By not pretending that all work has impact, even as we play very different roles. By staying close to the ground, so I can still pray into the soil of grassroots social change.

Bailing people out simply because you love them, as my beloved elder Pat Hussein talks about, only becomes possible when leaders believe it can be, and then make it happen. No matter who says it can’t be done. For no political gain, wealth, or glory of their own.

We can end money bail in the US. There is no reason we cannot, and we can do it while also liberating as many as we can from mass incarceration one by one. We can do it by following leaders already doing it.

We can restore our own faith, and our belief in our own faith, by doing these things that take us closer to who we claim to be.

Give here and take part in the Black Mama’s Bail Out Action 2018 and and follow the work: southernersonnewground.org

Caitlin Breedlove is Vice President, Movement Leadership at Auburn and hosts the podcast Fortification


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