Be the Response

Big thanks to all who attended our anti-trafficking event this week!

If you were there, I’d love to hear from you: What did you think of the film? What did you learn from the guest speaker? What questions were left unanswered? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The event is over, but of course the work of abolishing slavery continues. So the question is, what’s next? (Not in the President Bartlet, that’s-over-so-let’s-move-on kind of way, but rather the how-do-we-keep-this-going kind of way.)

Or, as Call + Response writer, director and producer, Justin Dillon, asks in the film’s climax:

This is an open source movement. The platform is written, everybody simply needs to write their code on top. What are you good at? What do you care about? Has this issue touched you? What is your response going to be?

What is our Response going to be?

Even if you weren’t able to be at Wednesday’s event, you can sill be part of the Response to modern-day slavery – both globally and locally.

You can:
Fund Care for Local Trafficking Victims: Here is an order form for gift cards to be given to Anne’s House. Giving gift cards provides needed food and clothes for girls rescued from sex slavery – girls now receiving vital care in the Chicago area. Orders due next Sunday, Feb. 26.

Chose an Action: The Call + Response website offers ways to be an abolitionist, including telling companies you want them to produce their products without using slave labor.

Learn More: Learn about the PROMISE program in general and Anne’s House in particular.

Those response options aren’t moving you? Or perhaps you’re not in the Chicago area? Check out my updated Abolitionist blogroll for all kinds of other options.

While I would of course love to have you support the efforts I highlighted here, there are plenty of avenues you can take. Just as long as you take one.

Be the response. Be an abolitionist.

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My church makes the news

Ok, so it was for TribLocal and we wrote the story ourselves. But it was the featured story for a while! That counts for something, right?

Anyway, it looks a little something like this:

Did you know there are as many as 27 million slaves in the world right now?

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Woodridge United Methodist Church is trying to change that. Will you join us?

The statistics are shocking. There are more slaves in bondage today than ever before. In 2007, slave traders made more money than the combined profits of corporate giants Google, Nike and Starbucks. CALL+RESPONSE is a critically acclaimed, theatrically released, feature rockumentary that shines the spotlight on slavery in the 21st century.

Actors and activists Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd, Daryl Hannah along with prominent luminaries Dr. Cornel West, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, New York Times’ journalist Nicholas Kristof and many others offer first hand accounts of the modern day slave trade. Throughout the documentary, these cultural figures share the frightening facts about slavery today.

Lending their voices and songs to the cause are award-winning musicians such as Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Five For Fighting, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Emmanuel Jal, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, members of Nickel Creek and Rocco DeLuca, whose musical performances are perfectly in sync with the film’s important message. Dr. West makes the connection between music and slavery, noting that during slavery in America, the only two things a slave had were their bodies and voices.

First time filmmaker/musician Justin Dillon learned about modern day slavery while touring in Russia. His translator, a young girl, told him about an exciting job opportunity in the west. The job offer sounded a “little too good to be true,” and Dillon decided to investigate the offer on his own, discovering the job was indeed an attempt to trick the young girl into a form of slavery. Upon his return to the United States, Dillon decided to act, “I was infuriated that here in the 21st century, there are people living as slaves, with no hope, no options and no future. I knew in my heart that it was up to me to make a difference, to take a stand and actually do something to put an end to this abominable business.” Dillon reached out to politicians and advocates along with musicians, he put out the call and they responded.

Join Woodridge United Methodist Church on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00pm for a screening event of CALL+RESPONSE. After the screening, the Director of The Salvation Army PROMISE program and Founder of Anne’s House, will present ways modern-day slavery is being fought in the Chicago area. The screening is free and childcare is offered.
Be part of a film experience that has enlisted over 350,000 activists around the world to demand change.

For more information about CALL+RESPONSE, please visit www.callandresponse.com.

For more information about the CALL+RESPONSE screening, please visit www.woodridgeumc.org/learn/call–response

If you’re in the Chicago area, will you join us? Come on Wednesday. Watch the film. Listen to the speaker. Be moved. Be inspired. Let your heart be broken by injustice that breaks God’s heart. Ask questions. Take action. Bring a friend. Be an abolitionist.

Well said! – Abolitionist edition

8-year-old me: “Dad, why is there a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Kid’s day?”

My Dad: “Because every day is Kid’s day.”

It’s an old joke, and it’s just true enough to be a little funny. It can never be more than a little funny though, because, for the estimated 13-15 million kids trapped in slavery (at this very moment!), no day is Kid’s day.

Forgive me the somewhat mawkish intro there. I was thinking about that long-ago exchange with my dad because today is February 1. Meaning National Human Trafficking Prevention Month is over. But, of course, (say it with me now) every day needs to be Human Trafficking Prevention Day. To that end…

The CNN Freedom Project has excellent coverage of child labor slavery in the chocolate industry. There’s even some good news: The Hersey company is finally addressing the issue:

The Hershey company, one of the United States’ leading chocolate producers, says it’s pledged $10 million over the next five years to educate West African cocoa farmers on improving their trade and combating child labor.

The company said in a press release that chocolate consumers will later this year be able to purchase a new version of Hershey’s Bliss brand, which will be 100% made from Rain Forest Alliance-certified farms mostly in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

“It’s a start,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum. “We see this as a welcome first step toward accountability.”

End Demand IL reports another victory: a conviction!

Sex trafficking is a local problem, and today Alex Campbell was convicted in a federal trial for selling women and girls out of a massage parlor in the Chicago suburb of Mt. Prospect. The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation applauds this victory and urges the community to hold purchasers (johns) accountable for buying sex and fueling the sex trade. Campbell recruited and prostituted women using force, fraud and coercion and had his name tattooed on their bodies to claim his ownership.

Sojourner’s offers a rundown of their anti-trafficking work in 2011:

When, as is true today, the richest 10 percent own 85 percent of the world’s wealth and the poorest 50 percent live off the crumbs of 1 percent of the total global wealth, you’ve created a market where slavery will thrive.

What will it take to shut down “Satan’s marketplace,” the global slave trade? Every weapon in the arsenal of nonviolence.

Texas churches rescuing sex slaves, according to Associated Baptist Press:

Faith-based and other organizations are using a variety of methods to discover and “rescue” trafficking victims. By using a private investigator, Traffick911 recently rescued two girls from traffickers, including one who was sold as “Thanksgiving dessert.” Groups like Traffick911 and TraffickStop are training individuals to recognize signs that indicate a person is being trafficked.

Next, groups like Refuge of Light and Traffick911 are attempting to build safe houses where rescued individuals can recover, a costly process that requires a safe environment. Safe houses are rare across the country. For a group like Traffick911 that discovers trafficking victims each month, that must change.

And, of course, my church (Woodridge UMC) will host a screening of Call + Response on Feb. 15 with discussion and action opportunities to follow.

Along with the film’s creators, we believe “the end of modern-day slavery will come from individuals who gather together to push on businesses, media, and governments to support their existing values for human rights. We believe that this is a bottom-up movement that needs dynamic information, sustained inspiration, and most importantly, tactile activation.”

Share your abolitionist activities so we can learn from each other.