My twitter feed was full of pictures of people’s with red “x” marks on their hands today. Most were pastors and/or leaders in the Christian church. And it got me really frustrated.
It angers me because people were seemingly try to help end slavery. But the problem of slavery in the world today deserves far more than awareness. Red Xs on hands do little to bring awareness. We live in a culture where everyday is an awareness day for something.
We have to actually lead.
But that offers a little bit of a challenge for most of us, because we feel powerless in a fight like this.
I know because my husband and I have been trying to be a part of the anti-trafficking movement for almost five years now. When we first got involved, we were constantly frustrated with the two ways that we were told we could help:
Give Money and Spread Awareness
While we have given money, and we have spread awareness, THERE ARE SO MANY MORE PRACTICAL FIRST STEPS!
If you were bold enough to put a red X on your hand, may I suggest you being courageous enough to also do the following?*
1) Buy traffick-free products. By the way, that means no more Starbucks. They say that they have relationships with farmers. They really don’t. Talk to someone who actually knows something about the coffee industry, and they’ll educate you. Need another option? Dunkin’ Donuts offers fair trade espresso. Better yet, go to a local coffee shop that has a partnership with farmers and buy your home beans from them, too. (In Chicago, try Conscious Cup in Crystal Lake or Overflow Coffee Bar in the South Loop. They are two of my favorites.) If you’re a moderate to conservative Christian, order your coffee from 29 Coffee.
Coffee is the first thing people think of, but there’s lots of other food products to look out for. The easiest switches? Sugar and Chocolate. Costco offers both fair trade sugar and chocolate chips. Omanhene is another great chocolate company. There’s lots more like it. There’s a list on this page.
It will cost more. Buy it anyway. Put your money where you mouth is. Save kids from getting burned by the fires needed to make those products. (Oh, you didn’t know that kids are being injured for you to sweeten your coffee? Well, you learn something new every day.)
This is just a start, but those are easy, every day switches that won’t hurt you to do.
2) Don’t buy/watch porn. This may seem obvious to some, but for those of you who don’t know, porn fuels the sex industry. You may think that hot chick on your computer screen is “into” preforming. More likely, she’s drugged to all high heaven. Besides killing your soul, you are damaging others’ lives. Cut porn out of your life. You may find that you have an addiction. If so, please seek out help from a group that won’t shame you.
3) Get in touch with local organizations that help trafficking victims or help prevent trafficking. Again, I’m in Chicago, so if you live here, get in touch with the Salvation Army Outreach Services (STOP IT for short), Dreamscatchers or Traffick Free. Also in Chicago, there is the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.
You ask, “what can I possibly do for these organizations?”
You can be donating clothes, offering counseling, taking women to job interviews, help a woman shop for her own clothes for the first time, maybe even offer your home as a half way house, etc. etc. CAASE (link above), in addition to other things, works in high schools to try to prevent trafficking in Chicago and beyond. There is so much to do and not enough hands to do it. If you want to be involved, GET INVOLVED!
And if you are NOT a Christian/don’t want to work with a Christian organization, contact IDHS’s Rescue and Restore. They are fantastic to work with to help victims rehabilitate themselves.
5) Most importantly, have the trafficking tip line phone number memorized…or at the very least, have it in your phone. If you see anything suspicious, call that number. Even if a police officer suspects something, he/she is not allowed to enter a place of business or a home. If you call, that gives him/her the legal right to go and search a bit.
The number is (888) 373-7888.
*People are trafficked both for sexual reasons and for labor. I tried to give options for helping both kinds of victims.
P.S. This is what all the X’s were about http://enditmovement.com/
P.S.S. This blog was previously titled: “Why all the red x’s pissed. me. off.” I changed it because I realized that the vulgarity of the term wasn’t needed. I was acting out of spite. Please forgive my spite and vulgarity and thank you for reading.