Complicit: Why I'm Pledging to Build Slave-Free Cities

Written by Jordan Ring, Allies' volunteer Community Engagement Coordinator

In order to truly commit to ending human trafficking, I first had to admit my own complicity in modern slavery.

The answers to those questions can be haunting. We live in a world where human beings are reduced to objects and exploited for another person’s gain.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I had failed to ask myself, “What's the story behind my everyday purchases?” Did the person who made my shirt make a fair wage while working in a safe environment? How much did my cup of coffee really cost? Did it cost only $3.50 or did it cost someone their dignity and freedom?

The answers to those questions can be haunting. We live in a world where human beings are reduced to objects and exploited for another person's economic gain. While it’s easy to despise the traffickers, an honest evaluation reveals our own personal economic benefit from these exploitative conditions hidden in global supply chains.

When I asked myself “What do I stand for?” the answer was easy: "I stand for a world that protects human dignity and promotes the opportunity for every person to flourish."

Easy to intellectually claim as I sipped my generic coffee...But how could I stand for a slave-free world on the one hand with a cup of possibly tainted coffee in the other? I realized in order to work at changing the world, I first have to change my world.

I realized in order to work at changing the world, I first have to change my world.

Therefore, to reduce my complicity in the exploitation of others, I'm pledging to only buy Fair-Trade coffee from this point forward. It won't be easy on my budget or my preference for bargain deals, but I'm committed to doing my part to build a slave-free world, starting in Austin, Texas. 

Fair-trade coffee alone won’t suffice, however. Although individual choices and behavior must change if we are to ever get at lasting solutions, we also have to create the right systems at the community level that will disrupt the cycle of exploitation. For that reason, I’ve become a Sustaining Allies Member, joining a community of monthly donors who are powering the Allies mission to make Austin a Slave-Free City.

Allies’ Slave-Free City (SFC) Network has already proven its value in convening stakeholders around the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking, a largely overlooked facet of trafficking. I believe the SFC Network will provide the guidance our community needs to become a place where traffickers can’t exploit the vulnerable and where survivors can truly heal.

So this is where I’m starting today - with a product I love (coffee) and an organization I believe in.  My pledge alone won’t change the world, but I’m confident that my pledge will join the hundreds of other pledges and when coordinated by the SFC Network, will ultimately inspire a cultural shift that will ripple through the very fabric of our community.

Will you join me with your own personal pledge towards the slave-free city vision?