All posts by saraaespinosa

Presentation Reflection

Renee’s presentation about censorship in China was particularly interesting to me due to the fact that I still can’t wrap my head around the topic in general. It amazes me how an entire country filled with an Internet using population of over 700 million is so successfully censored by the government. After this presentation it came to my attention that I have taken my freedom of speech and internet/social media usage for granted here in America. I can’t begin to imagine American millennial culture without freedom of speech, especially in our current political situation.

One specific moment in the presentation that haunts my thoughts is China’s attempt to bury the story of the train wreck by literally burying the entire scene and those still trapped in the train. This is truly frightening because it makes me wonder what other tragic stories they have successfully erased from the world/their citizens by censoring articles and reports in the news. It was nice learning that internet-using activist in China have found loopholes to take advantage of in their insanely censored world. Their use of art and word play is brilliant and opens up the door to a whole new range of discussions through social media, blogs, and other websites.

Reflecting on the actions of these activists, I’m not sure I would be brave enough to risk being sent to jail for a period of time to discuss what the government wants to keep quiet. Although Renee mentioned lawyers often defend these activists by claiming they weren’t trying to make any political statements, just be humorous on the internet, I would still be too afraid the possible consequences. It will be interesting to see what new loopholes activists will get away with next.

RBA Preparation and Road Mapping

There are approximately 20.9 million victims of modern day slavery in our world. Human trafficking, often referenced as modern day slavery, can be defined in three segments. An act, a means, and a purpose. The process of trafficking another human begins with force or coercion, followed by transportation and resulting with free labor and/or sexual exploitation.  When focusing on the United States, groups tackling the war on human trafficking can be classified as one of two distinguishable categories: federal law and their enforces or local community organizations. With the federal law and their enforces using a trafficker-orientated method, there are often high tensions between local community organizations that use a victim-orientated approach. If the federal government adapted the methods of these organizations, a greater amount of justice would be reached.

My paper will first give a deeper background of human trafficking, specifically in the context of the United States. With the use of, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in the United States” the confusion between trafficking and illegal immigration will be cleared up. After this my paper will go into analyzing federal laws and law enforcers’ efforts. With statistics and conclusions drawn from, “When farmworkers and advocates see trafficking, but law enforcement does not: challenges in identifying labor trafficking in North Carolina” it will be revealed that law enforcement struggles with identifying human trafficking. More faults of law enforcement will be revealed from Farrell, Owens and Devitt’s study and other sources. Focusing next on local community organizations, their use of a successful victim-orientated approach will be analyzed. The tensions present between law enforcement and these local organizations due to law enforcements’ trafficker-orientated method will be analyzed next with the use of “Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in the United States” and “Assisting Victims of Human Trafficking: Strategies to Facilitate Identification, Exit from Trafficking, and the Restoration of Wellness”.  Once both groups are evaluated, I will suggest a slightly modified approach law enforcement could learn to better decrease the overall number of victims of human trafficking.

Honing in on Human Trafficking

Link to infographic:

It is now the calm before the storm. Our infographic and research proposal are complete, however this is only the beginning as we all embark on the RBA. With my research proposal, I was told by my peers during our review session that although my background and short anecdote were well done, my conclusion was far too vague. With their confusion on which direction my RBA was going to move forward in, I had to rephrase my final paragraph and expand on my introduction to help clarify what exactly I plan to research further. This made me question what specific outcome of organizations I wanted to focus on as well as how I wanted to define “successful”.

My infographic received lots of positive feedback. With the layout and arrows, the cycle I am planning on focusing on has been solidified. The infographic gave viewers plenty of background and expressed the seriousness and importance of the general topic.

With both the infographic and research proposal complete, I now have a strong grasp on my research question I will be answering in my RBA. What is the most effective method of raising awareness about human trafficking throughout the United States? When I use the term effective here, I will focus on the quantity and scope of people that the method/medium overall positively effects. Bringing in more scholarly sources, I will focus my research on empowering organizations, forms of education, as well as media. Currently I have many personal stories and an understanding of many organizations that work toward empowering individuals, however I am going to have to find scholarly sources to help determine which method overall spreads the most awareness for my RBA.

Modern Activism Meets Modern Slavery

When told to generate a list of possible research topics for a class that revolves around the word “activism”, you will run out of paper before you run out of ideas. After a quick brainstorm, I glanced down at my list and narrowed down my topics to a mere five. Anti-poverty activism made the top five because I have personally witnessed extreme poverty on service trips. Poverty is a problem that not only riles me up, but affects billions of people. Another topic on my list is mental health activism, specifically for depression and anxiety. Personally knowing a few friends who suffer from these illnesses, I recognize that there are misunderstandings that need clarification. This clarity is reached through the efforts of activists. Anti-smoking activism and anti-sweatshop activism were two more possible research topics. Both affect large groups of people worldwide and have many developed activist movements. Although these topics carry a high level of importance, the most pressing seems to be human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that includes transporting or receiving a person by force and using them for forced labor. This multi-billion dollar industry is illegal and inhumane. According to the International Labour Organization, there are approximately 20.9 million people that are victims to trafficking. Stripping people of their right to freedom, human trafficking cannot be ignored. There are many activist groups around the world who are putting up a hard fight. One organization that I have ran across is Polaris. They fight for stronger federal and state laws and operate the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Polaris has also collected data through these efforts, allowing them to accurately prove to the world the severity of human trafficking. Another group, The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, provides similar services, such as their own hotline. The forms of activism used to fight the hidden horrors of human trafficking are more than deserving of everyone’s attention. I am eager to dive into further research of modern activism methods that are used to fight modern slavery.

The Complexities of Cultural Jamming and Corporations

Tim Jordan, author of Activism!: Direct Action, Hacktivism, and the Future of Society, points out the complexities of culture jamming. The overall hope of culture jammers is to rid the current world of impure cultural codes and languages that exist because of corporate and state desires. Cultural jamming tries to fight back the manipulative ways of corporations and their branding by drastically changing messages of advertisements with small alterations. Cultural jamming is a great medium for modern activism because our world is “a media-saturated world” (Jordan 117). This can get messy unfortunately due to the fact that corporations can culture jam themselves simply for the publicity. The challenges faced here remind me of the concept, “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. Celebrities will create fake scandals when they feel as though their light is fading. They become left out of popular conversation around the nation/world until something of great proportions happens, and the celebrity themselves is best qualified to be the mastermind behind it all. They then have full control of cause and effect. This attention-seeking method is easily translated to the world of corporations by Jordan.

The strength and power of corporations has also been brought to my attention. The tactics of corporations have become almost foolproof . Jordan’s statement that “globalized capitalism does not seek control of desire, but control through desire” (Jordan 112) reveals that corporations have the upper-hand. With cultural norms already well established in society, it is easy for corporations to use branding to sell a desired lifestyle rather than just a singular product. Jordan goes on to discuss Nike and its ability to get consumers so hooked on a check mark. This symbol being on any product leads the buyer to believe they will then be able to attain the lifestyle advertised by Nike so much so that the consumers are willing to place the knowledge of Nike’s use of slave labor to the back of their mind. This goes to show how powerful symbolism is and how hard it is to be a modern day activist living in a world with very solidified ideas and cultural codes.