Disclaimer: I use the term human trafficking and slavery interchangeable. Although they sound the same the main difference between the two are, human trafficking is the illegal act of using someone for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and/or forced labor. Slavery is the system as which someone is treated as the property of another person against their will.
February 22nd, 2018 I drew a red X on my hand with a Striper. As I went about my day, only one person ask what the red X meant. This was my chance to tell someone about human trafficking and shine a light on modern-day slavery. If you notice a red X on someone’s hand, there was a high chance they were advocating for human trafficking.
Drawing a red X came from the End It Movement which is an organization that focuses on exposing human trafficking, modern-day slavery, and informing individuals this is still an issue we’re dealing with today. The red X is to promote the conversation piece but it’s obvious that the red X doesn’t end modern day slavery. The End It Movement wants to first bring the conservation of modern-day slavery to life and I do know that the organization does not want to end it there.
Many people show their support for issues by doing something simple like change a Facebook photo, post an article, wear a wristband, and in my case draw a red X on their hand. These things are not bad and I believe showing support is important but I also do know that a red X or wristband is not going to change an issue. I was aware of that as I was drawing the X on my hand.
I try to stay clear of the word “advocate” because I do not want to be another person who cares but doesn’t do much about the issue. I’ve known about human trafficking since high school, I’ve known about other people trying to do something about it but I felt I wasn’t able to do much.
There were a few times in my college experience that human trafficking was a subject to discuss. One discussion that stood out to me was when the subject of sex trafficking came up, the two other people in the group I was in both said that trafficking is a subject they stay away from. I understood the reasoning but also thought that it is an important subject to talk about.
Later that year, I got the chance to have some human trafficking training from a non-profit I volunteered with for a few years. It was an eye-opener and I was starting to see that anyone can do their part to help bring an end to human trafficking. That was also the year I participated in Dressember. Dressember is a month-long style challenge to bring advocacy to human trafficking and modern-day slavery by wearing a dress (or tie) for the month of December. The dress piece is to start the conversation and the hope is to raise money that goes to organizations that are aiding survivors of trafficking and trying to end it all together.
My first year doing Dressember, I was pretty quiet about it. I’m an introvert and finding a way to bring up a heated topic like modern-day slavery was not easy. I really only told two people when I think about it. The next year, I was able to bring up the conversation of trafficking after posting photos on social media. I also got a family member to donate to my Dressember page (thanks mom!!!). The following year I was able to talk about what Dressember was about and encouraged a couple of people to donate.
As I learned more about ethical living and the connections between modern-day slavery and our products, I realized that the issue of slavery was too clear to ignore. After reading Overrated: Are We More In Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing It? by Eugene Cho, one part of the book that stood out to me and I took away from was when the author said, “Never stop learning. Study the Bible. Read the news. Devour books. Engage people. Ask questions. Be a critical thinker and an active practitioner” (pg. 161). I read that part around the same time, Ashton Kutcher gave his 15-minute long speech about child sex trafficking and the organization he’s apart of to catch perpetrators. It was a hard speech to listen to but I knew it was needed.
It was one of the first times I felt heavy about the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery and I was thankful to feel that heaviness. It meant I cared and I cared to learn about those issues. A few months later I got the chance to take another training in human trafficking and I was left feeling mad. I was mad about the lack of law enforcement handling human trafficking perpetrators and I wanted to do know what more can I do.
I know about organizations in my area that are fighting against human trafficking. I know I call my state senator about my care for the human trafficking. I know I can be more informed and have conversations about the issue of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. I know I can do more training and call the Human Trafficking Hotline when I notice the signs of a victim. I know I can donate to non-profits that are fighting against human trafficking. I also know I can support companies that employee survivors of human trafficking and give a portion of their profits to human trafficking organizations.
I’m already doing some of them and others I will admit to failing at. I have not called a senator and I do still shy from conservations with some individuals because it can be difficult. I’m finding out though, I don’t have to be scared to talk about human trafficking because it’s not an issue anyone has a gray area in. Human trafficking is bad and no one wants it to exist. I’m discovering ways to bring the issue up and ways to help fight against it. The red X is one of the many ways I hope to bring the issue to the table and hopefully help make other people realize they too can help bring hope and end human trafficking.
The End It Movement does not end with a red X.