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.

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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you put me through my absolute hell, and I for years thought it was love: an open letter to the boy who once held my heart.

you put me through my absolute hell, and I for years thought it was love: an open letter to the boy who once held my heart.

You put me through my absolute hell, and I for years, thought it was love.

an open letter to the boy who once held my heart,

you know who you are. you knew this was inevitable.  you no longer hold the power to hurt me. this is not for you, it is for me. I have come so far in the last 3 months and I am never going back to the mindset you ever so carefully placed me in for 4 1/2 years.

(the following is the letter I sent him, in the envelope was my promise ring that was given to me on my birthday)

d,

I have been contemplating how to fully part from you and I didn't feel right going in silence. I have moved on with my life and am not writing this to you in hopes of rekindling anything. I am the happiest I've been in years because thanks to you, I know what I am worth. I surround myself with people who deserve me, and people who I deserve in return. I took 4 1/2 years of emotional and verbal abuse and grew from it instead of letting it define me or drag me down. the best thing I ever did for myself was to truly let you go. 

I was so attached to the person I fell in love with when I was 14 years old. the person who loved me more than themself, and always chose me. you and I had something that completely changed my life, made me a hopeless romantic and truly made me have hope for not only my own future but our future as partners in life. 

over the last 4 years I have given you every fiber of my body. I have lost friends, had broken relationships with my parents and left everyone and everything I knew because I always chose you. unfortunately, you never fully allowed yourself to choose me.

I will never forgive you for sleeping with Leviah, a mother to a 2 year old girl, while I was at home, 8 weeks pregnant with your child. All because I "made you upset".

 I will never forgive you for turning your back to me as I laid on the bathroom floor screaming and crying in pain because the loss of your child was too much for my fragile body to handle.

 I will never forgive you for saying you couldn't drive me to the hospital, as I was unable to drive due to the pain medication I was taking, because you "had to go to work". Nothing broke my heart more than finding out you instead took the day off and got high with your friends. Completely abandoning me as I went through the most traumatic experience of my life all alone.

 I will never forgive you for leaving me in that cold and empty emergency room while you got dinner with your friend, ignoring not only my calls and texts, but the ones coming from your family members begging you to come comfort me. 

I will never forgive you for striking me in the face and claiming it was okay because I "made you upset". 

I will never forgive you for the years of emotional and verbal abuse, making me feel like it was all my fault, because something that I did "made you upset".

Everything I ever "forgave" you for, turned a blind eye to, said "its okay, I love you too", was an absolute lie. I have forced myself to take the blame for every single thing that has ever happened to us because I believed it would all work out in the end. I have resorted to physical harm to myself to deal with the pain you have caused me due to your cruel tactic of making yourself the victim time and time again. You walked all over me because you made me weak enough that I wouldn't be able to stand on my own two feet if you left me. This only caused you to push more and more boundaries.

The only people left in your life are people you continue to manipulate and treat with absolutely no respect. They love you too much to walk away from you, that is because they are your blood. You need to learn a lesson from this, me being the girl that was the "love of your life", someone you "couldn't live without". I have sat with you on the floor of the bathroom not only on the phone, but in person, begging you to not take your own life. I have seen you at your darkest and the way you are acting now is not withholding you from going back to that place. I promise you if you continue to live your life this way, you're going to have burned all of your bridges with the people who will see past every sin you have sinned and every crime you've committed. 

I would loved to have loved you until the very end of this life,  but you broke me down to the deepest and darkest place of my life. Some things are just too difficult to bear. I used to cry about how amazing you were to my friends, saying how you've been there for me at my darkest nights, only to realize the only reason you were there with me is because you put me there. 

I pray and hope you get your life together, make your wrongs right, before it is too late. You will always be a thought in the back of my mind, but don't think for a second that I will ever allow you back into my life ever again.

I wish nothing but the best for you. You have so much potential that could be used for good instead of evil. 

Please love your parents and family until the day you leave this earth. You lucked out with the people who have been placed in your life and should count your blessings everyday that they haven't walked out despite the many reasons you've shown them to do so. 

Please learn that love isn't a mind game you get to play with people. People aren't disposable, you cannot continue to use people until they're no longer useful to you and decided to throw them out.

Thank you for being my first love, you taught me more than I ever thought I would know about love by age 18.

We are going in separate directions for a reason and I'm taking all I learned with me. You put me through my absolute hell, and I for years, thought it was love. I have finally escaped that hell.

once always yours,

m.

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Where Would MLK Stand on Immigration Today?

The evidence will surprise you.

With DACA on the verge of expiring if no negotiation proceeds, immigration has been a common topic in the news and on social media. And with MLK Day quickly approaching, many have been quick to assume what Martin Luther King’s stance on immigration would be today. Although there is merit to some of the arguments that proclaim that he would be an avid advocate on the side of DACA and undocumented immigrants, the limited details that one could use to assume his position are more nuanced and suggest that, at best, he would support these issues in rhetoric alone, leaving his main fight to be on behalf of the black community.

Before dissecting the nuances of his plausible stance, I recommend taking this argument – and any presumptuous, theoretical arguments such as this – with a grain of salt as the evidence used to make these claims are limited and the conclusions far-reaching.

Nonetheless, the argument for King supporting immigration and undocumented immigrants has some credibility as many quotes from King’s speeches and writings can be referenced to bolster this position:

"One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws," King said in "Letter From a Birmingham Jail."

"Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust." "Letter From a Birmingham Jail"

"Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. ... To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right." King wrote in his essay "Three Ways of Meeting Oppression."

But is siding against immigration morally wrong? Contrary to what multiple political pundits and commentators have espoused, there is substantial evidence of the negative externalities of immigration – particularly, on the black community.

In a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), contributing authors concluded that “The 1980-2000 immigrant influx, therefore… explains about 20 to 60 percent of the decline in wages, 25 percent of the decline in employment, and about 10 percent of the rise in incarceration rates among blacks with a high school education or less.”

The harm that immigration could have on the black community was not lost on civil rights leaders that came before King. Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B, Dubois, A. Phillip Randolph, and multiple black media outlets and organizations publicly denounced the elites business model of “cheap labor” that preferred the work of immigrants to that of blacks.

It was clear, even then, that immigration did not provide a pathway for betterment of the black community and reverted or, at best, stagnated black folks progress on civil rights. And provided that these black leaders led and influenced King and the people that King would come to lead, one can only assume that their stance on immigration influenced him, if even in the slightest.

In response to this, a “more power in numbers” argument can be made, suggesting that if blacks would embrace immigration then they could have more leverage on the issues that affect them. This sentiment falls short when considering that immigrants are more likely to have to compete with blacks in the labor market.

Competition between freed blacks and white immigrants during the early 19th century “led to the rise of union based anti-black discrimination” which effectively kept blacks from benefitting from the industrial revolution. After Reconstruction, the “high rate of European immigration kept many newly-freed blacks locked within the South’s agricultural economy.” Not only this, but the elites also desired a system akin to slavery where blacks were still “last hired,” resulting in blacks being kept further away from the economic gains of society.

This trend would continue into the 20th century as unions were effectively segregated until after the second world war. But even then, blacks still struggled to rouse the support of their racial/ethnic counterparts to better work their low work conditions and end their discriminatory treatment.

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 for this reason – calling attention to the inequitable treatment of blacks even within desegregated unions.

When considering that black leaders throughout this country’s history have been cognizant of the damage that immigration can (and) have (had) on the black community and the fact that King was killed fighting for the rights of black folk, it is hard to make the case that he would be an avid advocate of DACA and other immigration issues.

This is not to say that he would not support these issues in rhetoric, as he did send a letter of support to Cesar Chavez, stating that “our separate struggles are really one – a struggle for freedom, for dignity and for humanity.”

But Cesar Chavez pointedly opposed mass migration as he believed – as did many black leaders before King – that immigration undermined American workers and “exploit[ed] the migrants.” Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers did not change their stance on immigration until well after King’s death in the 1970s-1980s. To assume that King would support modern immigration battles based off this letter, as many writers have, is historically inaccurate as Chavez himself was opposed to mass migration at the time the letter was drafted.

Even nowadays, attempting to make the argument of King being a devoted supporter of DACA and immigration is an inadequate assumption as the damage that immigration has done has been documented (refer to the beginning of article) and the preference for immigrant labor over blacks is still apparent today.

In a study published in the Urban Underclass, the contributing authors noted that “employers perceived stronger work ethic among the immigrants, and a greater willingness to tolerate low wages.”

This false sentiment has been pervasive and present throughout this country’s history, despite the incoming immigrant population’s race or ethnicity. To parrot any form of this argument is to perpetuate the never-ending cycle of generational poverty that blacks experience in this country as blacks have for so long been the hardest working and the least compensated.

In a study published in NBER by former University of Texas Economics Professor, Daniel Hamermesh, he concluded that immigrants generally do not take jobs that natives “don’t want,” a claim often purported by those who believe the “immigrant mentality” to be a thing. Not to say that immigrants do not work hard, but to insinuate that immigrants are doing better than blacks simply due to “hard work” and “merit” is wrong as the study goes on to conclude that “if anything… African-Americans… appear to take jobs that otherwise similar native whites and Hispanics, and immigrants too, are unwilling to take.”

If King were alive today, he would see that blacks are doing worse than immigrants according to most metrics; he would see that they are still being favored by elites in the labor market; he would see that the issues facing the black community are not being spoken about while immigrants issues have been holding center stage; he would see that communities and institutions are still lacking native black representation; he would see that the “check” he marched on Washington to get has still not been paid to the black community.

When considering all of these things, it is inconceivable to believe that King would be an avid advocate for DACA and immigration rights and not still touring the country advocating for a “radical redistribution of economic power” for black folk, as his dream is still not a reality
Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/mlk.jpg

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