Hey there freedom fighters, I’m Darien Smith, an intern at ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now. I’m a senior English major hoping to go to law school to study nonprofit and civil rights law. I’m also an avid runner, a sorority sister, a crazy dog mom, and a social justice advocate. I love red wine, long walks on the beach, and speaking up for oppressed people without a voice. I’ll be blogging this semester in hopes of educating and inspiring readers to take action against the horrible crime of human trafficking.
I first learned what human trafficking was in 2011, as a senior in high school. My church founded an organization called Coins for Children as an attempt to get the average person educated and involved in the fight against human trafficking. This was a result of the Shaniya Davis tragedy, which took place in my hometown. What started out as a local coin collecting campaign turned into a 5k walk and national fundraiser, which I participated in with my high school’s Key Club volunteer organization.
The best part of this campaign was that each week at church, we would hear a narrative of a person who had been rescued from the trafficking trade. One story in particular struck me, as the speaker was a young woman. Although her silhouette had been altered to protect her identity, I recognized her voice as a close friend of mine from school. That’s when it really hit me. Human trafficking isn’t just a distant international issue, it happens here at home. I’d gone to school with this girl for years and never knew the horrors she’d survived.
From that day on, I was hooked. I knew I couldn’t sit idly by and let another human suffer without a fight. Although my advocacy pursuits have changed over time, I am glad to be returning to the issue that first sparked my interest in social justice with such a passionate organization. Right now, our society is pretty lukewarm about human trafficking; most people are unaware of what trafficking is, or they consider it a distant issue, not something that happens in our community to our citizens. As much as I wish I could snap my fingers and free all the oppressed, it isn’t quite that simple, but, just like on a thermometer, every degree makes a difference. With persistent education and advocacy on the part of citizens, and help from volunteers, law enforcement, and lawmakers, we can make a change, one degree at a time and raise the social temperature to get people fired up about stopping slavery.
In the words of the great JFK, “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.” I care about human trafficking. I care because no one should be for sale. I care because everyone: man, woman, boy, or girl, should be free. I care because human trafficking happens everywhere, and I want to do my part to make my community a safer and freer place for future generations.
For now, I shall leave you with the wise words of William Wilberforce, an abolitionist in the 1700 and 1800s:
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
Writing for Freedom,