Just Do It

Y’all, I am riding a social justice high right now. We had an amazing meeting two nights ago with our little task force. Our merry, merry band of abolitionists is fired up and ready to go! It is so encouraging to be with friends who are committed to fighting injustice. Though I’ve only known most of these women for a short-time, it felt more like a reunion rather than our first meeting. I left with the same energy as after meeting with an old friend for coffee. These women are smart, creative, passionate, and committed to making a difference in our community and around the world.

Social justice has always been a passion of mine ever since I was a little kid. In kindergarten, I led my class in a protest to save the sea turtles – their habitats were being disrupted by coastal lighting which caused babies to go away from the ocean after birth and then die – normal kindergarten stuff, no? Often times, this bent towards social justice can feel disjointed and exhausting. Each new cause brings an onslaught of hope and despair, passion and fatigue. However, with trafficking, the passion lines up with my passion for orphans and vulnerable children, particularly those in foster care, and a great wave of passion is born! I can simultaneously fight for trafficking (and potential trafficking) victims while also advocating for orphans locally and globally. I may not be in a position to foster or adopt right now, but I can support foster and adoptive families, purchase my Christmas presents from slave-free vendors, and I can raise awareness in my community.

One commitment I’m making this Christmas is to focus on the gifts I give and learning where they come from. If, to the best of my ability, the origins of the products or their materials are unknown or likely sourced from slave labor then I’m not buying. Yes, this means spending more and yes, this means planning more, but hey! one of my goals is to have all of my gifts by the end of November and that means I’m already on it!

The idea for this realignment came from a book I read in college, Everyday Justice by Julie Clawson. In it she states, “Justice, at its very core, deals with relationships – our relationships to God, to each other and to the world […] Whether we intent to or not, our everyday actions hurt others and damage those relationships. Through anger and malice, self-centeredness and greed, we deny the image of God in others […] using them as objects that can be exploited for personal gain […] or simply ignore them.” (Clawson 20)

The time for silence is over. I will not be silent this year. I will use my voice and my dollar to fight for justice and freedom.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Eli Wiesel

Modern Day Abolition

SONY DSCNot long ago, men and women fought to end slavery in the United States and British Empire. Heroes like William Wilburforce, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas fought tirelessly against an unwitting society. Their efforts ended what we know as the trans-atlantic slave trade and improved the lives of millions of individuals.

Unfortunately, like many evils, slavery has manifest itself into another form. Be it sex slavery, labor trafficking, or white privilege, the devaluing of others still exists today and in many ways. There are more slaves today than there were during the trans-Atlantic slave trade and oftentimes slavery and trafficking go unnoticed. Hotels and internet chat rooms are the new auction blocks. Side streets and main street are the new cotton fields. Organizations like Slavery Footprint help you estimate the number of slaves working for you. For the record, mine was 43 – and that’s a conservative estimate.

Tonight, I am joining alongside 6 other women to fight child-slavery in our community. We will be discussing ways to raise awareness, educate children, and fight systemic injustice – all from my kitchen table, but we are fighting alongside thousands of other abolitionists through Love146. Love146 is an organization dedicated to abolishing child-slavery worldwide. They work alongside other incredible organizations like IJM to rescue, protect, and provide survivor care for girls and boys victimized by traffickers.

We are fighting to end child trafficking in our community and in the world. Will you join us?

The Dark Side of the Super Bowl

A repost from 2012:

As I sit here after the Super Bowl, watching the celebrations, regretting the last 2343 helpings of chips and dip, I can’t help but think about the dark-side of the Super Bowl. No, not watching Tom Brady lose (or Eli win, depending on which side you’re on), but the issue of human trafficking and sex-slavery that surrounds the Super Bowl.

Each year thousands of young GIRLS are brought into the Super Bowl host city to umm, service, the thousands of men pouring in to watch the Super Bowl. These are not grown women choosing to “take advantage” of the situation, (although, I can hardly call selling one’s body an advantage) but often girls as young as 13 who are illegally brought as prostitutes and forced to have sex with men.

This is the dark side of the Super Bowl. The issue that no one is talking about. While many fans are celebrating in the stadium, at bars, and in living rooms around the nation, thousands of young girls are in fear for their lives, begging to be set free from the hell they are living. Most of these girls are runaways who have been preyed upon by older guys and tricked into believing that they will be loved, cared for and protected only to wake up and realize they have been stripped of their identity, their clothes and their dignity. If they are uncooperative they face physical abuse, forced drugs and death. Sadly, many of these girls will be charged for prostitution rather than treated as victims that they are.

This is not just a problem in big cities. It happens all around the nation, in I dare say, millions of living rooms each day. That’s because the pornography industry is fueling the demand for young girls and perverting our idea of sexuality; devaluing it to a commodity readily traded just like cars, only the cars receive better treatment than the girls.

Sex sells. I learned this lesson at 15 when my soccer team hosted a car wash to raise money to travel to Germany. We had a number of beautiful girls on our team and they held signs on the side of the road while the cars turned in in droves. (There was another car wash across the street with guys and they left before lunch because not a single car turned into their lot). If I had to guess, I’d say at least 50% of all commercials have a beautiful woman selling something; men desire her, women want to be her. Toddlers are paraded around in skimpy outfits for beauty pageants, looking more like Miss America than a 3 year old – all in the name of beauty.

We cannot escape our sexuality. It is part of who we are. It is a gift from God. What we cannot do, however; is pervert it into something it’s not. A woman’s sexuality is not designed to please a man. It is designed to bring glory to God. In her sexuality we see a side of God that can only be seen in a woman. It is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, too many women (moms, teenagers, college students, school girls) have been robbed of the power and glory of their sexuality. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched events in the world. Shouldn’t we take advantage of this opportunity and fight for the women who cannot fight for themselves? It starts at home. Pornography is not just a guy’s issue. It harms real women, with real lives. It is NOT just an image on a screen.

Amidst all the flashing light bulbs, confetti and crowds, let’s take a moment to remember and do something about the dark side of the Super Bowl.

For more information regarding human trafficking, sex-slavery, and how you can get involved, please check out these sites:

The Justice Department                                                                   International Justice Mission                                                                         Not for Sale                                                                                          Nefarious

What to do with a million dollars?

It all started with the question, What business would you start if you had a million dollars? K posed this question to me this summer and I almost immediately replied that I would start a human trafficking/sex slavery awareness and rehabilitation program. This issue has captured my heart and until recently, there was hardly given any attention to this reality:

  • A child is trafficked every 30 seconds. – UNICEF
  • The average age of entry into commercial sex slavery in the United States is 13 years old. – United States Department of Justice
  • Human Trafficking occurs in 161 out of 192 countries. – The United Nations
  • Pornography is a 96 billion dollar per year industry. – The Internet Filter Review
  • Human Trafficking is a 32 billion dollar per year industry. – The United Nations
  • Over 27 million people are enslaved around the world. This is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. – Kevin Bales; Free the Slaves

In light of this, the D family invited me to see the documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls that was shown in Greenville this past Tuesday. In learning about this documentary, I was able to reconnect with my FRAD  (Freshman Resident Advisor), L, from my days at Furman because her husband was one of the people responsible for bringing the documentary here.

Side note: If you have not seen the documentary, please watch it. It is an incredible portrayal of the reality of the sex traffficking industry.

L invited me to their home for Secret Church the Friday before Nefarious. Secret Church is a gathering of believers world wide to worship, learn, and pray for the persecuted church. It usually lasts about 6-7 hours and is hosted by The Church at Brook Hills (Also known at David Platt’s Church). This time about 50,000 people world wide tuned in via simulcast to learn what the Bible says about Family, Marriage, and Sex. Full disclosure: I am a nerd. After 7 hours of intensive teaching, I left L’s house (at 2am) energized and with my mind racing. We took about 30 minutes to pray specifically and intensively for the church in Egypt. I got chills thinking that in one moment, 50,000 people were praying for a nation. Awesome. Needless to say, I will be attending or maybe hosting??? the next Secret Church on April 6 (Good Friday). I am also planning on hosting another showing of the most recent gathering, so if anyone is interested, let me know.

Isn’t it astounding that all of this came about because of 1 question this summer?