Social justice trend fails to inspire widespread action

I hate to be callous toward the atrocity of modern slave trade, but it takes more than awareness to effect real change. It takes more than a red  X on my hand to free these men, women and children from their bondage. The End It Movement is a great marketing campaign. But after that, after everybody knows about how there’s still slavery right here in the United States, then what?

As much as I want to get behind the End It Movement, it smells like a social justice fad, much like the Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign. From the start, the goal of the project was to raise awareness about the Ugandan war criminal. People generally know about him now, sure, but what’s come of it? Statistics on Invisible Children’s website cite a drop in civilian murders by Kony’s army from 2011 to 2012 — before the campaign was launched. The campaign itself could not have been responsible for that, then.

Two years later, the End It Movement is a collaborative effort by many social justice organizations, such as A21, Free the Slaves and the International Justice Mission. The premise is noble: to spend one day, Feb. 27, raising awareness about slavery.

Those who don’t know can’t work toward making change, so we have to make sure people know.

The details are vague, though. Slavery where? Who is enslaved? What is being done to stop it? What can people do to help stop slavery?

The End It Movement’s website says to take action — but “take action” means buying the t-shirt, drawing the X and posting on Twitter. That’s not real action. That’s not going to help free slaves. Without a clear and compelling connection between the red X and real action, the campaign is empty.

Profits from merchandise bought must go somewhere, but that information isn’t to be found on the website. In fact, there’s no real information about what the End It Movement and the organizations involved are doing specifically to fight slavery around the world.

The organizations involved in the End It Movement do incredible work to bring justice to the oppressed around the globe. Free the Slaves literally does front-line work freeing enslaved people and providing them with shelter and food.

But the movement doesn’t talk about the work that’s currently happening, and it doesn’t encourage people to get involved anywhere beyond social media. It’s just a cute t-shirt and an Insta-post that will get likes.

About Rebekah Wahlberg


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