We have been heartbroken by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police brutality, and as you likely are too, we are still absorbing the impact and significance of the swell of protests and unrest that has followed. Our own office in Oakland is near the scene of protests there, though so far thankfully remains secure. In body, we are fine. In our hearts, we are not.
Some may believe we should “stay in our lane” and stick to talking about trafficking in Thailand. However, we would not be standing in our values to stay silent or to pretend nothing is happening. We call ourselves The Freedom Story because we believe in advancing the cause of freedom. And whether in Thailand or in America, it is clear that there are racial and ethnic disparities in who is most vulnerable, most at risk, and least protected against the threat of trafficking, exploitation, and other forms of modern slavery. And it is equally clear that those disparities are the result of a history of policies and ideas that protect some people and exclude others. Those policies and ideas also often deny racial and ethnic minorities the legal protection they need if they do become trafficking victims.
To advance the cause of freedom anywhere means advancing the cause of freedom everywhere. We stand firmly in the assertion that Black lives matter. Saying so does not mean anyone else matters less, and it is not mutually exclusive to have love for all our fellow humans and say that Black lives matter. It is so important to say that right now because the act of turning away and staying silent in the face of such repeated brutality, or even to try to water the statement down in any way, is effectively to say that Black lives do not matter.
And consider the possibility that policies restricting the use of force not only protect the lives of citizens, they protect the lives of police officers too. These two things do not have to be at odds with each other. We are more bound up in each other’s freedom than we may think.
Americans across the nation have one thing in common. We share in the fact that we must each sort out where we stand right now. However, no matter where you stand, there is work to do. To participate in healing our country, we can choose to listen and reflect. If you’re ready to do more than listen, then give. Give to the organizations doing work on the ground. Give to the helpers who are cleaning up. Give to the teachers and educators who are guiding you through this. Give your neighbor grace that we are all humans fumbling our way to figure this out as best we can. There is so much work to do, there’s room for everyone.