As promised, here are the notes and remarks from my speech at Worcester City Hall during the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day event. What’s notable is that January has been declared by President Obama to be National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. These remarks came after a review of the Walk Free Project, 500 Miles to End Slavery.
Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. My thoughts here may be considered out of line by some, or possibly even offensive. We are a country, much like many, many other countries. We are a country turning a blind eye to slavery, as it exists, right here in our own backyards.
I’ll tell you what I mean by this.
Our government has declared an awareness day, to remember that modern-day slavery and human trafficking exist, and we were all very happy. This declaration assisted us in the long, exhausting process of cluing in millions of Americans. Americans, who are, to this very day, very, very poorly informed.
So let me get back to my point about Awareness Day. What does that mean? What does that mean for all of us who are involved in the fight…all of us in this room…and all of us who can not sleep at night, for thinking about the millions of children, men, and women who are enslaved today? All of us, here today, we are aware. We are in this fight. So, the declaration of awareness day, do you want to know what it means to me? Now? Today? After many years working as a volunteer organizer to keep fighting for this cause? Human Trafficking Awareness Day, to me, has become Human Trafficking Acceptance Day.
Our own government, a government which is charged with the protection of its people, has announced that “yes, we have human trafficking”. It’s going on right now, right here, in America. Thousands upon thousands of our own American people, plus those thousands who are brought into our homeland, are sex slaves. And they are domestic slaves. And they are providing your manicure, and your massages. And they are clearing your table and washing up from your visit to a restaurant.
So what’s the point of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day? Is it to remind us that we continue to import billions of products that are manufactured overseas, by children and by entire families that are enslaved? Our government is fully aware of this, yet, as a nation, we fail to take a stand and sanction these imports, and those countries. We live and die by Walmart, and Nestle, and all of these “American” practices that not only accept slavery, because there’s a benefit to us to do so, but we are actually endorsing it through our consumerism.
So my question to you all today is: where do we go, after 11:30 this morning when we leave here? Where will we go and what will we do? Will we go home, go about our day and reinstall our apathy? The apathy which allows and appreciates the slavery right here in our own nation, in our state, our cities and towns, and in our own backyard?
I ask you: is this going to continue to be National Human Trafficking Acceptance Day, every January 11? Or will we press on, and strategize, plan, organize, and let our government know that this is not acceptable. Slavery and trafficking are the greatest and most despicable human rights violations imaginable. Yet we accept it. I plead with all of you, and with our esteemed lawmakers: let us work together. We need each other, We need to take this movement from this room, and bring it, through teamwork, up the chain through our local government, to the state level, and beyond.
Please join me and my team. We are exhausted, we are spinning our wheels, we are fighting and fighting against a crime for which our government has actually created a national acceptance day for. What, now, will you do?