A “Grey’s Anatomy” scene with Makayla Lysiak, depicts how human trafficking impacts Black girls and their families.
Shondaland and the ABC cast and creatives of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19” came together to shed light on these harrowing and often untold injustices during their winter finale in December. (Photo credit: ABC).
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and at G4GC we are especially cognizant of the fact that human trafficking and sexual exploitation disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, Latina, and other girls and gender expansive youth of color in the U.S. This disproportionality is no accident —trafficking for sex and labor and other forms of sexual exploitation are the result of multiple forms of structural violence, including racism, capitalism, and colonization.
The legacies of these oppressions create the conditions to render girls of color especially vulnerable to trafficking and sexual exploitation: they result in school environments that push out girls of color rather than being sites of safety; in girls of color being more likely to be criminalized for experiencing sexual violence rather than supported; in child welfare systems that are quick to remove girls of color from their homes and communities without ensuring adequate safety and protection; and, perhaps most importantly, in economic injustice that prevents girls and youth of color and their families from being able to meet their basic needs.
Even when girls of color are recognized as victims and survivors of trafficking and exploitation, their families are often blamed for failing to protect them, rather than recognizing the systemic conditions that make them vulnerable. This is a narrative that needs to shift. We are so grateful to creative teams like those at Shondaland and ABC for using “Station 19” and “Grey’s Anatomy” to call attention to the ways that trafficking impacts Black girls and their families in their winter finales last year, and to challenge popular narratives and tropes that hypersexualize and blame Black girls for their own exploitation.
At G4GC, we are proud to uplift our grantee partners who are actively working to support girls impacted by human trafficking and exploitation. These organizations are addressing the conditions that allow for trafficking and exploitation to exist and continue, advancing narratives that make clear how the vestiges of colonization, capitalism, and enslavement have enabled the continued sexual exploitation of girls and gender-expansive youth in our communities, and —most importantly— are giving girls and gender-expansive youth of color who have experienced trafficking and sexual exploitation the space and skills to exercise their own power, and to articulate exactly what freedom looks like for them.
These partners include:
Because every girl deserves to live out her full potential without fear of violence or exploitation,
we support organizations like Rights4Girls working to end human trafficking.
(Photo credit: Rights4Girls,a G4GC Love is Healing COVID-19 Response Fund grantee)
Ending human trafficking requires us to recognize how and why it exists, and to continue to combat the injustices that enable it. We encourage you to learn more about these organizations, to listen to the wisdom of young survivors, and to take direction from them in shaping narratives and policies that prevent trafficking and create the conditions where girls and gender-expansive youth of color can be safe, free, and thriving.
Maheen Kaleem, Esq
Grantmakers for Girls of Color