Staff Spotlight: How do you fight modern slavery?
Did you know that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month? President Lincoln’s Cottage and its youth education program, Students Opposing Slavery, are dedicated to continuing Lincoln’s unfinished work and fight for freedom. President Obama published the Presidential Proclamation late in December, and if you’ve been following our social media accounts, you’ll notice we’ve been joining the discussion with both Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign and the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons’ #EndTrafficking campaign. We’ve been sharing pieces from our What I Would Miss campaign as well as our award-winning Can You Walk Away? exhibit to help raise awareness of the red flags, and what to do once they’ve been spotted.
To honor National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevent month, we asked staff to reflect on:
How do you fight modern slavery?
Read the answers below:
Erin Carlson Mast
I arm myself with up-to-date information on the fight to end modern slavery, which helps me spread awareness to others and be conscious in the choices I make as a consumer.
Over the past year or so, I’ve been in the process of flipping my wardrobe so every piece is either certified fair trade or is ethically made/sourced. It’s been a process, but resources compiled from Made in a Free World really help. I also donate to Polaris, an NGO dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. Since joining the Cottage, I’ve talked the ears off anyone who will listen about our Students Opposing Slavery program. The program’s recent awarding of the Presidential Award certainly helps make for interesting happy hour discussions!
Every contractor we hire at President Lincoln’s Cottage must sign a contract that states: The Contractor shall comply with all Federal, State and local laws and regulations in the performance of its obligations under this agreement. The contractor shall comply with all federal laws and regulations for hiring of its own employees and any subcontractors. I am certainly no expert on Labor Laws but in essence this means that the employees they use on our projects must be citizens or have the necessary paperwork showing legal status.
I encourage myself as well as my friends to look closer at the goods that we purchase on a daily basis. It’s startling to think of the lack of accountability involved in the production of many of the things we eat and wear.
I fight modern slavery by buying products, as much as I can, from businesses that practice fair labor standards and commit to transparency in their supply chains, and by spreading awareness among my friends and family so they, too, can be sure they support companies that are engaged in ethical practices.
I help empower young people to take action against trafficking in their communities through the Cottage’s Students Opposing Slavery program.
I combat modern slavery by being aware of the products I buy, and where they come from. I had assumed that most large chains didn’t see ethical sourcing as a priority, and I would instead need to support specialty boutiques or small businesses. While I do shop at such stores, that can often mean higher prices. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that I can buy certified slavery-free GoodWeave rugs at Target — convenient, stylish, fair priced and most importantly, ethically sourced. A win-win-win-win.
I fight modern slavery by donating to the Cottage’s campaign to replace the cocoa matting in the Cottage. By choosing a slavery-free sourced carpet, we are making a conscious choice to support survivors of human trafficking, and to raise awareness of this major global issue.
I fight modern slavery by consciously purchasing clothing and goods free of slave labor. I first realized that I had the power to make ethical choices by participating in My Slavery Footprint. I learned that the clothing I was purchasing for fashion was hurting innocent people forced to make my wardrobe. I now shop at places like Everlane that make ethical choices when it comes to fashion.
Before I started working at President Lincoln’s Cottage, I was not aware of the magnitude of size of human trafficking today. I have become more self-conscious about what I buy and how I buy items when I shop. I try to use suppliers that I know are certified fair trade or at a least pass Fair Labor Association inspections. In addition, I ensure, to the best of my ability, that all items I bring into the Museum Store are slavery free. Furthermore, I readily support as many fair trade vendors as much as possible. When visitors come to the Cottage, it is my responsibility to educate them on the fair trade products, ensuring that the knowledge is shared.