Young Woman Falsely Accused Of Human Trafficking While Selling Educational Books To Children

Young Woman Falsely Accused Of Human Trafficking While Selling Educational Books To Children

Taking social media community awareness too far.
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As I was scrolling through Facebook last week, I came across a lengthy post with a picture of a smiling young girl giving a thumbs up on somebody's doorstep. The picture was taken using Snapchat, and had a caption across it that read "if this girl comes to your door, don't answer it."

The user detailed how the girl had come to her doorstep selling educational books for children, and used her "smooth-talking" to come inside their home. The user claimed that the young saleswoman was actually involved in human trafficking and was using the books as a guise to case the home for children to kidnap. The user went so far as to accuse the saleswoman of using their bathroom only to examine pictures of her children.

At first, I was shocked. "How could a young girl do something like that to families? That's despicable." But after about 1 millisecond, my "don't-believe-everything-you-read-on-the-Internet" common sense kicked in, and I began my research.

After some easy Facebook digging, I found pictures of the girl standing next to a local police officer. Only she wasn't being cuffed or charged with human trafficking-- she was smiling at the camera just like she did in the picture that was used to falsely label her as a nefarious child-stealer.

Deja Miller is a college student working independently for a company called Southwestern Advantage. Southwestern Advantage hires college students to sell books to local families in order to help finance their education. Some notable former employees include Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, and author Martin Fridson.

From their website: "The Southwestern Advantage Sales & Leadership Program allows students to run their own businesses during their summer breaks through the product and training Southwestern Advantage offers. The students are independent contractors. They purchase products from Southwestern Advantage at wholesale and sell them to customers at retail."


So, after about five minutes of lightweight research, I uncovered the truth behind this "human trafficking threat." Why couldn't the Facebook user who labelled Deja as a human trafficker done this same research? Why do we live in an era where people are more inclined to type up a 500-word warning with no evidence and post it to social media rather than doing a little research?

As a person who lives in the neighboring village of Ada, I am fully aware of the suspicious and potentially dangerous activity related to human trafficking that has been going on in Lima recently. Human trafficking isn't a joke or something to be taken lightly. Toledo alone has become notorious for human trafficking in the United States, and with Lima being so close it's understandable that locals have become extremely cautious. Traffickers are men and women alike, which is one of the only statements which I could agree with on the Facebook post targeting Deja.

Now here's where the big BUT comes in: While I completely sympathize with the fear of the Facebook user and the fear that I've seen reflected throughout the community, I cannot sympathize with using social media as an engine for destroying a person's livelihood and career. Would it be worth it if she were a human trafficker and lives were saved? Sure. But my question is where was your evidence? What led you to believe that this harmless girl carrying a clipboard and some books was a danger to you and your children?

Fortunately, Deja was able to meet with local law enforcement to snap a few pictures for legitimacy and post them on her professional page to clear the air.

It seems that Deja has received a great deal of support from the community, but it's unsure what impact the post will have on her sales in Lima. Deja reported that she will be in town for the next two weeks selling books to children, presumably before she returns to school. Fortunately, the Facebook user removed the post after it was made clear that Deja is a legitimate saleswoman.

Is fear a good enough reason to label someone as a monster? Is it a good enough reason to circulate their picture via social media (traveling faster than those little pamphlets you get in the mail with local sex offenders) warning locals not to answer their doors? This is her livelihood, how she is making money to finance her education--potentially ripped away by a girl using Facebook as a weapon.

My question is, why was this harmless book saleswoman falsely labeled as a sex-trafficker? What is it about her appearance that makes her seem threatening? What was it about her personal demeanor that screamed "warning!" to you?


To Deja: I hope that this negative experience hasn't marred your opinion of Lima (or Ohio). I want to personally extend my thanks to you for the amazing work you're doing in this community. Keep doing you, girl!

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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