Bridge 1: Ongoing Inquiry/ Inspiration Journal

Journal entry text 1 (typed):

Throughout my life, I have always felt compelled to help those who could not help themselves. That being said I was not at all surprised that I chose the amplify theme to conduct my research around this semester. Three possible areas of research that are nearest to my heart are human trafficking, child abuse, and domestic violence/ rape. These three topics share the common factor of taking the vulnerability of a victim often times found in unfamiliarity, dependency, and love to treat a person with cruelty or violence simply because they can. Like most things, human trafficking exists because it is profitable. Traffickers can make money selling human beings or selling the forced services of a human being. It can be relatively risk- free when compared to drug trafficking or arms trafficking. Traffickers can sell one person’s services hundreds of times – but can only sell an ounce of cocaine or a weapon once before needing to restock. Sad but true. It is mind boggling the lengths people would go to make money which is why this needs to be stopped. We have reached a point where people have become so cold that they can totally dismiss feelings of compassion and empathy. Similarly displayed in child abuse as well as domestic violence these situations occur when and only when someone is only conscious of themselves and totally disregard how their behavior is harmfully affecting the lives of the victims. I hope to create a project that will bring awareness and hopefully a step in the right direction to solving the problem.

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Sad but true, human trafficking occurs in the United States of America. Many believe that because America is a greatly developed nation human trafficking would not happe, however, this is a false assumption. Human trafficking is a high demand money making business which is one of the main reason why it happens so frequently. Praying on the weak and vulnerable pimps search for young girls who often come from dysfunctional homes gaining their trust by offering them promises of shelter and love. Because love is something these young women long for, it is easy to fall for the mind games pimps use to ensure that the girls remain submissive and undefiant. Additionally, when it comes to finding these girls law enforcement procedures are not the most efficient. They almost always suggest that the girls may have run away and that 48 hours have to pass in order for them to be considered a missing person. The delayed approach to these situations give pimps the opportunity to leave town making the chance of finding these victims nearly impossible. Making things worse  victims who come from dysfunctional families are often times targeted because pimps know that it is less likely anyone will report them missing. For the most part, these girls are extremely young and these forced encounters will be their first ever sexual experiences. I can only imagine the trauma this must bring to already troubled victims. Another cause for human trafficking is the 100% profit margin. Pimps unlike other goods can sell one girl over and over again without really having to acquire new goods to sell, basically making her a one time investment that can last a lifetime.

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In recent news we have heard the mention of human trafficking that has affected many across the United States. This issue is not one specific to racial preference however, when we look at the statistics of who goes missing we can not dismiss that the girls being taken are majority colored girls. Stated most eloquently by actress Gabrielle Union “Any vulnerable child can be a victim of sex trafficking, but we can no longer gloss over the fact that the majority of those who are victimized are girls of color. By illuminating the problem and potential solutions, we are taking a first step towards ending the abuse and exploitation of our most marginalized girls.” As a young woman of color myself, it is disheartening to see that no one is talking about the issues; very little is being done to help put an end to what I believe can most accurately be described as modern day slavery. Right now there are thousands of children being lured into these traps in which they are then manipulated, bought, sold, and raped. Though this “business” is not discriminatory it is safe to say that this is a gender issue. The majority of those identified as victims of trafficking are girls and young women more specifically girls and young women of color. More susceptible to fall victim to these traffickers colored girls make up more than half of the number of sex workers on the streets. This is a result of early exposure to violence and sexual abuse which makes them more vulnerable to re-victimization making it harder for them to escape this terrible cycle of abuse.

Journal entry text 4 (typed):

By definition “ Social responsibility is an ethical theory, in which individuals are accountable for fulfilling their civic duty; the actions of an individual must benefit the whole of society. In this way, there must be a balance between economic growth and the welfare of society and the environment. If this equilibrium is maintained, then social responsibility is accomplished.” Aligning most nearly with what I believe personally, social responsibility is an individual who is selfless enough to see their actions as something that does not just affect them in the moment but as something that could result in a greater effect on those around them. However, social responsibility can also be quite ambiguous. This sense of unclarity can leave room for interpretation. Additionally, I believe social responsibility is a designers desire to provide commentary on things happening around us. Aside from me being able to gather my own definition The message I was able to grasp can aid in hindering human trafficking because it amplifies the voice of the situation, making people more aware of the terrors of what is happening across the country and globe. I can relate to these ideas because as an artist myself I am aware of the power my work can have if I work to convey a message greater than just a beautiful garment. In being able to achieve this I can make the message one of important and interest for the uninformed. When reading the article I felt somewhat confused because the message of social responsibility was no quite clear however, it did allow me to form my own consensus which was not such a bad thing.

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Human trafficking is a topic many people shy away from and or completely avoid talking about because of its heavy subject matter. Because of this stigma around the topic there is not much room left for people to be partial because they haven’t really thought about the issue. It is quite disheartening to say the least because though it may be uncomfortable to talk about it does not compare to the discomforts and pain both emotional and physical victims of human trafficking endure on a daily basis. Overall, the route in which people choose by completely avoiding the topic does more harm than good. Infrequently addressed by the government is one of the main contributions to why human trafficking is not being stopped more forcefully. With this as my research topic I believe it is pretty easy for me to remain impartial because I have not been directly affected by the viscous terrors of these trafficking rings. I am purley someone who sees injustice and believes that everything possible should be done to help these victims escape and form lives as contributing citizens who can live without being ostracized as a victim forever.

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Archival materials are, “information objects that serve as evidence of past events. They record information about past activities and act as memory aids that allow its users to recall and relive them or to re-communicate information about those events at some point in the future.” This form of research can both inspire and inform a topic sometimes, even offering information in which the researcher has not thought about previously. These sources are of utmost importance because they provide evidence of activities and tell us more about individuals and institutions They tell stories they also increase our sense of identity and understanding of cultures they can even ensure justice. Though my topic surrounds more recent activity archives can provide supporting information having to do with other issues of the past such as slavery. There is a parallel between these two forms of enslavement create a balance of both cause and effect in relation to systemic issues. Alongside these issues we can draw comparisons between the two to see how much change if any really, has actually occurred following the emancipation of slaves. I can use this information to take a closer look at race, gender, etc and truly examine the root of the issues.

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The one topic I see endless similarities in relation to human trafficking is slavery. It has become quite clear to me throughout my research thus far that slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. Slavery is something that has taken up new forms one of them being human trafficking. The transporting, recruiting or harboring of people for purpose of exploitation using violence, threats or coercion is a clear-cut example of the modern face of slavery. It is a shame that many people think slavery is only something that happens overseas in developing countries, however, this is far from the truth. No country developed or developing is free from modern day slavery. This can affect people of any age or gender, however, it is no secret that some groups are more vulnerable to slavery than others. People who live in poverty and have limited opportunities for decent work are more vulnerable to accepting jobs that ultimately, lead to exploitation. This is also true for those who are discriminated against because of their race or gender.  

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Being that my topic is human trafficking I can not relate to it directly, however, I can speak about it from the point of view of an uninformed member of society. Being of African descent I was more than familiar with the concept of slavery and its debilitating aftermath given the effects on communities today but if someone would have told me slavery still existed today I would have dismissed them in disbelief. It wasn’t until I was watching an episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit that I realized that even right now as I write this entry human trafficking is happening right beneath our noses here, in the United States of America. Growing up I like most children got the “don’t talk to strangers” talk, but what happens when the people who end up harming you are not strangers at all. When doing my research I decided to focus on who human trafficking affects the most and the different forms human trafficking could take place. Through this research I found that the term modern-day slavery is more transparent and more connected to textbook slavery than I had initially thought. With the majority of those affected by human trafficking being African American women and girls who fall within the US poverty bracket. Aside from, race, there are also many forms of human trafficking. These forms along with sex trafficking include forced labor, slavery, servitude and even forced organ donation.  These discoveries helped me to understand that the issue is a lot worse than most think and we must do what we can to disassemble these trafficking rings.

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With human trafficking being such a large compact topic I realized pretty early on that I would have to narrow my scope of research. I decided that I would focus my research on human trafficking in the United States. After finalizing my scope of interest it became much easier to come up with what I would put in my essay or more specifically my thesis statement. My thesis statement is, Amidst the gospel of equal opportunity and freedom for all humans, human trafficking is still prevalent in the American society. In fact, it is the most common representation of modern slavery. Thus, despite the perceived “freedom” for all, human trafficking remains prevalent in the United States, yet it is treated as a taboo within the political and cultural setup of the country. My position being the relation to slavery and the taboos that surround the topic regarding race and gender focusing on the efforts that are not at all sufficient in solving the issue. Understanding that there is always an opposing view my counter-argument would explore the opinions of those who believe that all the right steps towards solving the issue are being done right now. By addressing two different opinions in regards to my topic it will add depth and layers to my essay resulting in a nice balance and a stronger reason as to why my opinion is correct.

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Like any project, I always fear whether or not it will turn out the way I want it to or If others will be able to understand the meaning of the work. With a topic as heavy as human trafficking, my goal was to approach it with as much sensitivity and care as possible. Another concern of mine was how would I be able to tell the stories of these women accurately. Sorting through tons of information there were lots of articles however, they were statistic dense so I needed to find a way to combat this effect. Out of pure luck while volunteering at a church called Graffiti ministries for my sustainable systems class I met a survivor of human trafficking. Willing to share her story with me anonymously she was exactly what my essay needed. My interview with her added a sense of realness and depth that I could not get from any other source. My interview with her not only helped me solidify my essay but also my idea for the studio portion as well. When listening to her speak I realized that she was at a point in her journey where she wanted to reclaim who she was as an individual not letting what she had been through defining her. So I decided my piece would be something that would empower the woman wearing it instead of embodying what she wants to leave behind.

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One lingering question I have about my topic is how can something so prevalent be so hard to stop by the government? I understand that because there are so many different forms and so many cases of this epidemic it can be hard to stop however, the government is notorious for being able to go into other countries and stop things of a way greater caliber. For this reason I find it hard to believe that there aren’t any greater initiatives they can take besides the ones they have already taken. If I could continue to explore the topic of human trafficking after this semester If possible I would want to speak to people on both ends of the spectrum. One side being government officials and the other being the traffickers themselves. Why would I want to speak with the traffickers you may wonder well, I want to understand the way they think and why they don’t seem to fear the law and its potential punishment for their crimes. I would want to interview government officials to better understand the laws they have in place in relation to human trafficking. I would also ask about the other tactics they plan to intact in addition to what is already in place. I would start my further inquiry by speaking to a member of law enforcement like my friends father who is a police officer. I would want to find out what their protocol is in relation to human trafficking as well as if any of it is a result of direction from the government itself. By doing this I believe I could get some insight as to why human trafficking is still such an issue within the US and eventual elsewhere.

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As a person who has always lived a free life in accordance with the law my topic of research has allowed me to better appreciate the life I am lucky enough to live eevery day The realization that in the country I am so proud to call home there are many living enslaved in a place where freedom is so highly proclaimed. This entire research project has allowed me to think beyond the initially definition of what human trafficking is into something that rehabilitates the victims by empowering them instead of being a constant reminder of their past and what they had to go through. I had always known that clothing can give a person so much more than one would assume, it gives them, themselves. Clothes have the ability to make us feel like we can take on the world which is why I now examine the things people wear not just from a place of aesthetics but also from a place of understanding; asking myself what that garment could possibly mean to them despite what others may think.


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