100 Girls a Night

As a native Atlantan, I’ve spent many years hearing the quiet conversations about  girls who get “turned out” in the most innocent of places: our skating rinks, our night clubs, even in our own homes. When I was in high school, I remember a few girls who were “stripping” for money after school; I’m not quite sure what happened to them. The fact that I don’t know speaks to a greater problem that the city of Atlanta has had for a long time: child sex trafficking.

Our girls grow up too fast, it seems. I recently saw a girl who could have been no older than 10-years-old wearing a full set of acrylic nails, a halter top, and short shorts. My daughter, who is only 7 years-old, asked “isn’t she too young to wear fake nails?” “Indeed,” I told her.

Sadly, there are men who pry on “adult” children like her; their insatiable, and quite frankly, disgusting desire to have sex with a child has fueled the child sex trafficking industry. Atlanta has become a hot spot, and it’s not for good reasons; Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport  is one of the largest hub for commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young adults in the U.S.

Our girls, especially African-American ones, are entering child sex slavery at alarming rates. On average, over 100 adolescent girls are raped and sexually exploited for money in Georgia on any given night. Yes, that means that by nightfall, there will be 100 adolescent girls who will do the unthinkable for reasons unimaginable. Many of them have run away from home and they have no one to turn to. Their faces are all over missing posters, but their pimps keep them under such a lock-and-key, they’ll never know anyone is looking for them.

Living Waters for Girls (LWFG), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, has been a beacon of light for girls who desperately want to leave  sex trafficking; Living Waters’ goal is to “rescue, rehabilitate and restore commercially sexually exploited girls by providing safe refuge and holistic therapeutic services”, but their impact is much greater than that. Their long-term comprehensive program helps girls earn their GED, break free from drug and alcohol addictions, gain valuable vocational and life skills and prepare them for a life free from abuse.

Living Waters focuses on restoring the entire person and empowering them to live beyond their circumstances. Founder Lisa Williams has committed her life to raising awareness about commercial sex trafficking and needs our help to further her reach to save our girls.

Starting April 1, Living Water for Girls is launching A 100 Days for Beautiful a virtual fundraiser to raise $40,000 to receive a matching grant from The Quest Foundation. If they can raise $40,000, The Quest Foundation will give them $40,000. How’s that for exponential giving?

LWFG is asking for you, yes YOU, to host a kick-off party April 1 (or any day thereafter) to help spread the word about their efforts. Invite your friends (and your daughters, nieces, and sisters), gather some food, and a laptop. Open up the discussion (and your wallet) to make a donation to Living Waters for Girls.

I’m doing my part (two-fold) by bringing awareness and making a donation. It’s small, but it helps. To learn more about Living Water for Girls, visit www.livingwaterforgirls.org and check out the video below.


For Colored Girls Who Are Okay With Being Colored.

This weekend was the opening of Tyler Perry’s film adaptation of the critically acclaimed For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. There was much buzz around Perry, a Black male, taking on such a resounding chorus for Black women all over the world. We wondered, “is he capable?” “is he going to feature Madea as one of the ‘colors?'” “who the hell told him that he could tell our story?”

Even I was on the you-are-not-the-right-one-to-tell-this-story bandwagon early on. Guilty as charged. I always thought that Tyler Perry left his viewers hanging with unresolved plot lines  and rushed character development and, for someone who has gone from slap-stick comedy in his stage plays to million dollar movies, I just didn’t correlate the Tyler Perry I see in my head (who looks and talks like Madea) to such a important piece of text like For Colored Girls.

Many of my friends and college classmates  gave varying degrees of opinion. From the “my-feminism-will-not-allow-me-to-agree-with-anything-a-man-does-even-if-it-is-good-makes-sense-and-I-can-relate-to-it” to a resounding cyber-applause for Tyler Perry, the movie, and the realness of the characters.

I took all of these thoughts, feelings, and opinions into the theater tonight and realized that this movie isn’t about Tyler Perry and his previous cinematic efforts. It’s much, much more.

It’s about the bravery of the women who portrayed a differenct facet of Black womaness, many times, a side of our Black womaness that we want to keep hidden in the shadows and foggy mist of our imaginations.

We don’t want people to know that we are broken, abused, hurt, forced on our knees to serve as the trodden path of those who “rule” over us.

We don’t want people to know that we mistakenly love the wrong ones and let go of the right ones.

We don’t want people to know that the facade we put on as Super Black Woman (fly your cape!) is many times just that: a fake.

We don’t want people to know that beyond our academia and righteousness that we genuinely just want to love as hard as we can, without letting go, with out apologies.

We don’t want people to know that sometimes we make mistakes and our most valuable selves, including our children, suffer at the hands of our refusal to let go of love.

We don’t want people to know that the men we love sometimes do not love us back. Not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t.

We don’t want people to know that those same men who do not love us are worthy of forgiveness and we spend every waking hour trying to help them receive that same forgiveness.

We don’t want people to know that despite the front we put on, we want to be fucked. Yes, fucked. Without rhyme or reason.

We don’t want people to know that we have the desire to be fucked because our daddy’s fucked us first.

We don’t want people to know that there are tons of pieces that have been left behind, scattered across the Diaspora and without them we’re a mess.

But with them, we are resilient, brilliant, and worthy of every thing we secretly desire when no one is watching.

We are everything Shange and Perry expressed in that film. No matter how far you try to remove yourself from it, that’s you. That’s me.

Dirty bitch. Glorious woman. His whore. His wife. Their mother. Their aborter. A thief. A giver. Afraid. Brave. Killers. Life givers. Jealous. Selfless.

We are. And that’s okay.

Who are we to shy away and be afraid of our pain? Our joy? Our failures? Our triumphs?

Who are we to not reach the end of our rainbow?

On the Chase,

 

Alisha L.