Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

Anti-Trafficking and Racial Justice in the Wake of George Floyd


It has been a harrowing week for the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Demonstrations around the country have highlighted the unrest our nation feels, particularly our black community members who have been fighting to dismantle systemic racism for far too long. LCHT Leadership Development Program Alumni (‘16) Heather Brydie Harris poignantly shared her lived experience and reflections on Monday:

What they don’t tell you

Is how the anxiety of hearing helicopters for days on end will make your teeth hurt and feel weak. 

How at night sometimes you can’t speak, and when you can it is a whisper of a voice that is not your own. How your vocal chords become paralyzed. 

How you will think you are fine all day, and then you are weeping, raging, falling, falling, falling…

How sleep, when you can sleep, is not sleep, but flashes of worst nightmares, of worst case scenarios, of your cousins, brothers, friends, babies, and lovers echoing “I can’t breathe”

-Heather Brydie Harris

Today the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking wants to state clearly and unambiguously that Black Lives Matter. As Dr. King reminded us, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In this moment, we must acknowledge how our privilege and complacency has failed the necessary work to address this racial injustice, and diminished our dreams to end other injustices like human trafficking. We must do better.

At LCHT, we have seen the realities of overlapping discriminations which disproportionately impact people of color and amplify conditions for exploitation. We know that effective anti-trafficking action is directly tied to safer communities for all, not just some. During this time, we are striving to learn how the human rights work we are involved in can counter racial injustice more clearly. We invite you to join us in that discovery.


A Few Reflections and Resources From Our Team

We want to leave you with a few thoughts from our staff and co-founders about how they’ve felt this week, their hopes for what comes next, and a few resources that have helped them navigate this time.

AJ Alejano-Steele, LCHT Co-Founder

This weekend I felt numb and beyond furious. As a society, we are repeating the mistakes of the past and it provides me evidence that we keep taking two steps forward and three steps back. And why we need to be in these root causes leading to vulnerability for the long haul. We cannot continue to be effective in eradicating human trafficking without the necessary work of ending racism (along with all the other societal oppressions that create risk for being trafficked).

Today I hope we keep organizing as allies and to listen carefully as we move forward. We need allies and we need steadfast leadership. Our leaders need to understand the interweaving of vulnerabilities happening in this historical time. They also need to listen to the pain of fragility and the need for seismic social change.

As a woman of color, I invite people to spend time on the site Colorlines, where there are many contributors who put powerful voice to the tender space of hurt, vulnerability, and fragility felt both in the U.S. and worldwide.

I appreciate this piece in particular because of the historical note, and the larger social change issues moving at a glacial pace. It highlights the need to move this conversation forward beyond videos/ images and shock/ awe into action, which is the hallmark of our work at LCHT.

Amanda Finger, LCHT Co-Founder

This weekend I felt the weight as a parent in talking with my six-year-old about police, injustice, and protests. Today I hope we are listening to the many great conversations taking place around the country.

I have also always found the blog posts from Colorlines important because the content they produce is always current and advances conversations around racial justice.

Kara Napolitano, Research and Training Manager

Over the last week, I felt helpless… is this really how far we’ve come, is this it? Today I hope we begin the hard work of reconciliation and gather minds and bodies to make tangible recommendations that will result in real and lasting systems change.

This NPR story helped to guide some of my conversations with my family over the weekend. We never had these hard conversations when I was growing up, and I want to assure that my nieces and nephews are exposed to these conversations at an early age.

Ashley Hunt, Leadership and Engagement Manager

Over the last week, I felt the hurt, fear, anxiety, and power of the collective. Today I hope that we move forward, together, with compassion and honor the immense capacity for both individuals and systems to change, and our power to bring about that change.

I found this site helpful because it gives tangible actions to take in order to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Autostraddle is an online community made up of and for Queer, Trans, and Nonbinary women and femmes and offers a unique framing and perspective that mainstream sources aren’t centering.

Craig Nason, Development and Communications Director

Over the last week, I have felt a deep sadness and pain for our country, while at the same time understanding that my own privilege prevents me from experiencing anything close to the full trauma which endures for George Floyd’s family and the black community at large.

Today I hope that communities and organizations fighting to bend the arc of history towards justice find the resources to accelerate the tangible changes we need right now. I hope I can continue to take a posture of learning, unlearning, and giving tangible support in order to be an ally for those efforts.

I found this collection of anti-racism resources, intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen anti-racism work, a particularly helpful starting place.

Brittany Austin, Hotline and Advocacy Manager

I found the recent article from Ibrim X. Kendi in The Atlantic titled “The American Nightmare: To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction” important simply because it speaks the truth and we all need to listen.


Key 📷: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” / Charlotte, NC / @ClayBanks

Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

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