Black Girls Are Still Enslaved

The sexual trafficking of our young females is happening at an alarming rate. Who will free them?

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Moreover, this movement shouldn't only feature black male leaders, such as Rev. Al Sharpton and Russell Simmons, who can take back the neighborhood under the mantle of black male protection. That only answers part of the problem. We must also have a cross-gender, multigenerational movement to abolish sexual slavery that prevents young girls (and boys) from becoming potential victims and perpetrators of sexual violence.

Granted, we must understand that the raping and selling of black girls is connected to a myriad of social issues, such as gang activity, the illegal drug trade, failed child protective services and rising unemployment. But, we must place the sexual trafficking of African-American girls at the forefront of our conversations about social justice, our legislations and public policies, and our demands for racial and gender equality.

To not do so, means that we idly sit by, while thousands upon thousands of black girls are sold into another peculiar institution of slavery.

Salamishah Tillet is an assistant professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of the non-profit organization, A Long Walk Home, Inc., which uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to document and to end sexual violence against underserved women and children.

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Salamishah Tillet is a rape survivor and co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that uses art to end violence against girls and women. She is also an associate professor of English studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship, Racial Democracy, and the Post-Civil Rights Imagination. She is working on a book about civil rights icon Nina Simone.

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