We are mamas, many of us raising children of color in the City that we love. As educators, health workers, civil servants and community leaders, we contribute economically and culturally to make this city what it is: The City. Our children represent the future of San Francisco, and we care and strive to make the City more socially just – not just so that our own kids can live and thrive, but so that all children can, no matter their race or socioeconomic status. To accomplish this, we must raise our children to be thoughtful and caring people who make the right decisions for themselves and their communities.
We are raising children of color in a city that has, in the last two decades, seen a large mass exodus of families of color. Given the way our criminal legal system targets people of color; given the connection between our housing crisis, our homelessness crisis, and the criminalization of poverty and people of color, this exodus is no surprise. Arguably, it was intended. And so, we support an end to mass incarceration so that our children can become adults and live free of the impacts of racial disparities that pervade our current legal system.
African Americans make up no more than 5 percent of San Francisco’s population. But they make up more than 50 percent of the people caged in our jails. A person of color in San Francisco is more likely than a white person to be stopped, searched without consent (despite being less likely to be found with contraband), arrested, or brutalized by the police than a White person. Shockingly, San Francisco’s incarceration rate for African Americans is more than six times the rate of New York City and double the rates of Los Angeles, Washington DC and Chicago.
As San Francisco mothers raising the next generation of San Franciscans, we will vote for Chesa Boudin for District Attorney because he recognizes the inherent racism of the current criminal justice system, and he is the most prepared to end it. Without a healthy and fair justice system, San Francisco will never reach its potential; it will always fall short of its claim that it is a world class city. But with Chesa Boudin as District Attorney, San Francisco can lead the way towards eradicating social injustice and keeping people truly safe, not simply protecting the privileged.
Like Chesa, many of us have personally felt the burden of mass incarceration and the ways it destabilizes families, from expensive phone calls, money for bail, time lost for court cases and visits to city and county jails and federal penitentiaries, to being sole providers of families after a loss of a relative to the prison industrial complex – in terms of financial cost, women far disproportionately bear the burden imposed by mass incarceration.
We want a safe city for our children and families, and we understand that the corrupt justice system mass incarceration grew from will not get us there. We need approaches that will actually prevent crime, rather than the status quo where recidivism rates are above two thirds. We need to shift resources and energy to deliver mental health services to families in need, rather than using our jails as mental health facilities – 75 percent of the people locked in our jails suffer from serious mental health issues, drug addiction or both.
We need to invest in education and proven rehabilitation programs, not double down on things we know don’t work. Most importantly, we want a just society – one where our kids can fully participate, where they can give meaning to their lives and meet their potential, one where they can have faith that they won’t be treated differently because of the color of their skin or where they live.
Chesa is the only candidate who will bring the change we want to see. He has many years of experience of keeping families together and safe from unjust systems and oppressive institutions like ICE. As a public defender, he has devoted his life to ensuring equal justice for those who can’t afford lawyers. He has also been at the forefront of legislation that aims to transform systems to prioritize healing families instead of breaking them apart.
When Chesa Boudin is elected, he will have a profound impact on transforming The City and protecting our children and families from the racism and harm inflicted by the criminal justice system.
Let’s make San Francisco safe for our children, for all children. Join mothers in San Francisco and vote with us and for Chesa Boudin on Nov. 5.
Signed by the following San Francisco mothers:
Rama Ali Kased, Educator*
Miriam Cavalheiro, Entrepreneur*
Araceli Jimenez Williams, SFMTA Transit Operator*
Dana Morris LaMotte, Nurse*
Chelsea Boilard, Legislative Aide*
Aimee Riechel, Educator*
Mei-ying Williams, Educator*
Vanessa Funes, Social Worker*
Clara Lavadores, Mother and Artist
Norma Ruiz, Case Manager, SF Reentry Council Commissioner*
Guadalupe Cabrera, RAICES Facilitator (Mission Girls Services)*
Gloria Dominguez, Site Director for Mission Girls*
Erin Hughes, SFUSD Social Worker*
Maritza Gomez, Case Manager*
Sheenia Branner, SF Reentry Council Commissioner*
Geri Almanza, Educator*
*for identification purposes only
The writers can be reached via Rama Ali Kased, MA, Ed.D, Director and Clinical Faculty, Metro Academies, San Francisco State University Health Education Department, at firstname.lastname@example.org.