Monday, April 7, 2008

Slavery Still Exists.

I have been putting off writing this blog for a while.

It's so serious.

It's so big.

It's so real.

But honestly, these excuses are lame. So let's get to it.

If you know me only from reading my blogs then you might believe that I possess an ability to make people laugh. I don't [except my best friend, Andrea and my daughter, Sadie - but in all fairness they laugh at everything]. In fact, close friends and family consider me to be more serious than most.

I usually try not to transfer my austere nature to my blogs [partly because it doesn't translate well - I end up coming off like a saleslady]. But I suppose for this entry it will prove itself useful.

Back to the point at hand. If you were not aware that slavery didn't end when it was legally abolished then I want you to take a moment a soak in this horrible truth.


Modern slavery is not the same beast that the abolitionists of the 19th century worked so fervently to end. The concept of slavery has evolved into something arguably worse.

I've known about sex trafficking for a couple years now. I don't remember how I came across it. But just before I moved to Maryland I stumbled upon a website called Survivors of what? I pondered. I did a bit of menial research and discovered that there were women and children all over the world who were being forced into prostitution and captivity. I was horrified by this new information but unsure as to how to help. I was a single mom with almost no money and even less time. What could I do? After a bit of contemplation, I decided to buy this bag from the website [pictured just below]. It was win-win. I was doing my small part. And I got lots of compliments on the pack [I loved it because it made me feel like a more legitimate tree-hugger [and I have to say, two years later it has held up fabulously [and I am particularly rough on purses] - but here I am morphing into a salesman]]. I left the problem in my head but pushed it to the back of my mind.

That all changed last semester. I was assigned to write a 20 page paper in my Social Problems and Issues Class on a topic of my choice. Guess which one I chose?

Alas, I seriously underestimated the scope of my task.

First of all, I discovered that though sex trafficking was prevalent and terrible it was not the only form of slavery in existence today. There was debt bondage, also known as bonded labor. For example, let's say your great-grandfather needed an extra bit of cash to cover his expenses for a particular month. An acquaintance offered to loan him $100 [or less, or more - whatever he needed]. In exchange your great-grandfather and his family would come and work in the acquaintance's rice factory until the debt had been repaid. Fast forward 50 years. You have never experienced a world outside of the rice mill. You are 17 and have been doing back-breaking manual labor since you were four years old. Still, somehow the debt has not decreased. In fact the man who runs the mill [the acquaintance's grandson] just informed your father that since he has had to provide food and shelter to your entire family for so many years the debt has doubled.

This concept seemed outlandish to me, but it is reality for millions.

If you watched Blood Diamond then you are aware of the concept of child soldiers. But perhaps you did not know that it is still a terrible reality in the world today. I posted a video about the crisis on this blog. It is a trailer of a documentary called Invisible Children. I've never done that before [posted a video] and so I don't know exactly how it will turn out [or where]. Let's find out together[it ended up near the beginning of the blog as it turns out]. It explains the situation better than I could. The documentary itself was put together by three boys in their 20s. Passionate, adventurous spirits led them to travel to Sudan directly after graduation. They weren't prepared for what they were about to witness. I haven't seen the documentary [I read about it in the book Not For Sale by David Batstone] but I plan to.

27 million people today are enslaved. Tens of thousands of those people are being held captive in America. I didn't want this blog to be about statistics, but I find these facts shocking.

Sometimes I can't sleep. I cried for days while researching information for my report last semester. I felt guilty experiencing joy while people suffered so tragically. They didn't get a break, I reasoned. How could I?

Eventually I concluded that constant worry wasn't the answer. I have opted in a new direction. I hope that someday soon I will have the opportunity to volunteer for a company like the International Justice Mission or The Polaris Project. Until then I'll research and use my voice, my blog and MySpace.

One more thing [shifting...shifting...Ok! - Saleslady Mode]. A guy named Joe Mettimano works for a company called World Vision. He and his team are currently working on a campaign called the "Children Should Never Be Soldiers" petition. They are trying to get a million signatures and when they do they will submit it to the U.S. president, the Congress and the United Nations urging them to take meaningful political action. I went to sign the declaration online and was surprised that they currently have less than 50,000. Come on. We can do better than that.

Thank you for reading this. I would love for you to comment.

This blog took more than 3 hours. My daughter is hungry and probably feeling a bit neglected [I can't concentrate on this, peel her orange and discuss the pros and cons of the latest episode of Larry Boy [but after brushing her off by saying "not now" for the eighteenth time I finally did explain what I was writing - she agreed that it was very important]. I better go tend to her.

I don't feel like I said everything I wanted to say. I would like to discuss sex trafficking more and talk a little bit about why slavery is so rampant today. Another blog. Another day.


Jessica said...

Oh, Brandy - I simply love that you posted this. I am going to make sure to direct all my friends to your blog for this entry. And those to come. I love your honesty and your style. I wish I had half the dedication to my blog that you do to yours - then I might have more than 2 entries.
I have been meaning to message you back on myspace, but I am terribly slow and the past week has been, well, hell. I have also put together mail to send to you (and Sadie!), but haven't quite managed to get to the post office to get it weighed and posted.
I want to see the invisible children documentary, too. I bet you I could get it off netflix. Next time we are going to see each other, remind me of this and I'll be sure to get the documentary the week before for us to watch. :)

I miss you!

brandyglows said...

Thank you! I love you! I can't wait to see you! You make me so happy!! Exclamation marks galore! (:

JMS said...

Did you hear about GSUMC's partnership with International Justice Mission? If not, you should email Talbot and let him tell you about our "Not for sale" weekend and how cool it was. Hopefully more people will continue to learn about this continued evil and be moved to do something about it.

You're awesome, my friend! Can't wait to marry you (to Jermaine, that is!).

JMS <--link me and I'll link you... :)

brandyglows said...

JMS: Thanks, man! I will. I remember hearing about it. I think something was happening in regards to slavery in my life that weekend at the same time [I was either finishing the paper or applying to work for IJM - I don't recall]. But I remember thinking it was ironic.

Oh, and - consider it [the linking] done. (: