As an organization that has worked globally with hundreds of survivors of sexual exploitation, we know that the issues of trafficking and exploitation are rooted in larger structures of systemic oppression like racism, systemic injustice, poverty, gender inequality, discrimination, and more.
All over the world, we have seen Black and Brown survivors be treated differently than lighter skinned survivors for no reason other than the color of their skin. In the US specifically, research shows that sex trafficking victims are disproportionately women and girls of color (64%), and within our justice system minority women and girl survivors are more likely to be criminalized rather than seen as victims. Cyntoia Brown is an example of this gross injustice.
We recognize that some in the current anti-trafficking movement have ignored or failed to address the racial disproportionality of sex trafficking-- sometimes even falling into racist tropes idealizing purity of white victims or heroism of white saviors. We will not do the same.
As communities around the United States are demanding justice and reform, Red Oak stands in solidarity to say that Black lives matter and that the systemic injustice embedded in our justice systems are completely unacceptable.
We value informing our community and we are committed to learning and doing this deep work with you. Some of you may be realizing a new awareness of the realities and daily lived experiences of Black people in America and all over the world. We encourage you to approach this journey for justice with intentionality and with the knowledge that this is not quick work, but rather demands thoughtfulness, persistence, and courage.
As an organization, we are committed to learning from and partnering with organizations and individuals fighting against systemic oppression in order to address the issue of sexual exploitation and serve a diverse community of beneficiaries in a holistic way. For additional resources, please check out the sites linked above as well as those below:
"Your Next Step in Advocacy: Listening & Learning", a robust compilation by a fellow anti-trafficking organization, Dressember
"38 Resources to Help your Church Start Discussing Race": a list of resources specifically for Christians compiled by MissioActive
If you would like to talk about this further to hear about our specific action steps or have any suggestions or questions, we’d love to discuss further. Please contact us here.