Opinion: Send Cards to Incarcerated Moms for Mother’s Day



By Simone Thelemaque, President – BWOPA Oakland/Berkeley Chapter

This past month has felt very heavy, as I found myself deeply triggered by the violent attacks on women from estranged lovers and spouses.

Say Her Name: Rashanda Franklin in Richmond and Karen Smith in San Bernardino. These are two of the women whose deaths left me wondering: “How?”

Following this strange wave of violence, the Huffington Post posted an article “Five Women Black Women Open Up About Being in Abusive Relationships” (Trigger Warning)

I learned that many women end up in jail for self-defense from an abuser. This should not have been a surprise to me, but for some reason, the reality has left a deep burning hole in my heart.

I thought of those women, their children, friends and family and how our system continues to participate in victim blaming.

Enough is enough.

Although I cannot change the entire world, what I can do, what we can do, is uplift those mothers behind bars.

We may not know how all of them arrived in that space, but many of them are mothers.

I would love to personally invite you to join me, and the women of Black Women Organized for Political Action in our efforts of distributing 400 cards by May 9.

What to include: messages of love, hope, unity, encouragement, and solidarity. We cannot live in this world of borders, walls and separation. Our sisters need us just as badly as we need them. We are doing this for our children, their children and our collective futures.

Who are we serving?

  • 1. Elmwood Complex Women’s Facility in Santa Clara County, which is a 500-person institution, 300 of whom are mothers. There are two mothers in juvenile detention, who will also receive cards.
  • 2. West County Detention Facility in Richmond. We are not sure the numbers at this time, but we are expecting at least 100.

In Oakland Simone Thelemaque is the contact person. The Oakland drop off location is AU Lounge, 2430 Broadway. You may come in and make cards anytime between 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. and drop off ANYTIME between 6:30 p.m. and 2 a.m.

In Richmond Kathleen Sullivan, president of the Richmond BWOPA chapter, is the contact person. She can be reached at [email protected] to arrange to drop off.

In the South Bay Shanta Franco-Clausen is your contact person. She can be reached at [email protected]


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