In that moment, we had indeed come far, and since then, we’ve come even farther. Me, I cried at both of Barack Obama’s inaugurations, whose election is commonly touted as a testament to our progression.
And don’t laugh at my nerdiness, but when I was a little girl, Black History Month was my favorite, right behind Christmas season.
I’m not kidding, and here’s why: First of all, I love history, and this is actually the only month we have in the US devoted to the subject. Frederick Douglass, Ella Baker, and Thurgood Marshall all became fast friends of mine. (Heck, my own name on Twitter is a nod to one of my favorite women in history, Sojourner Truth.)
Second of all, I admitted elsewhere on this site that I am easily incensed by stories of injustice, and therefore I am always drawn to any story that champions the underdog. And every single one of the stories highlighted by Black History Month is a triumphal testament to a person forced to surmount incredible odds to achieve their dreams–far more astounding than a more privileged person doing the same.
Moreover, it’s a celebration of the end of slavery.
Except that it isn’t.
Slavery still exists.
Even here in America, right under our noses.
It’s simply gone into hiding. Which in some ways, makes it even more insidious than it has been before.
More people are, in fact, enslaved both in and out of the States than ever at any other point in history.
27 million human lives, to be exact.
Some more terrifying numbers: their average age is 12. Which is getting younger. Only one in 100 is ever rescued. Only one in 100,000 of their traffickers is ever convicted.
Manual, sexual. It takes many different forms: Involuntary domestic servitude, sex trafficking, debt bondage, child soldiers. But when you strip right down to it, it’s simply this: the involuntary and heinous subjugation of a human being into hopeless bondage.
I know we’re already 11 days into February, but what if we made this month not just one devoted to recognizing history, but applying its lessons to the present?
Each day, for the rest of February, to the best of my ability, I’m going to post one deed–one action–that I’ve undertaken, myself, that very day, to help reduce modern-day slavery.
For my first deed, I am sending a care package to a recovering victim of sex trafficking in Bulgaria.
You can find more information on how to do the same, here.
Some of these will be very tiny, some maybe slightly more expensive than others. I’ll try to keep them doable, though. And I’ll keep track of them on my tumblr account, if you want to follow along more easily.
Will you join me?
Just for a month? Do you mind? Can you make the temporary commitment?
It simply seems ludicrous to me that here we are, honoring the end of slavery–when really, all we can commemorate is the end of blatant slavery.
Slavery still persists, but in secret. And it’s wreaking more pain and havoc than ever before.
We can’t allow this.
Journalist Brian Williams didn’t garner any new fans when he said the following, but he poses a good point about how we usually allot our time on the Internet. “If we’re all watching cats flushing toilets, what aren’t we reading? What great writer are we missing? What great story are we ignoring?”
And heck, I love me some cats flushing toilets. But imagine if for every cat video we watched, we also educated ourselves and spread information by watching and sharing videos such as the following.
Freedom is the right of every human being.
And the fight for it is not yet over. Let’s use this month to continue the good fight.