On April 6, a performance about human trafficking was hosted by The 806 café on Sixth Street in Amarillo. The performance drew dozens of people from all across the Amarillo area. The poetry slam style performance was brought to The 806 by Jose Raul Rodarte, also known as Raul the poet. Rodarte graduated from WTAMU majoring in Theatre.
“I used to be the slam master of the poetry slam here in Amarillo. I know a lot of poets and I know that’s a strong way of getting issues spoken,” Rodarte said.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over two thousand incidents of trafficking were reported between Jan. 2008 and June 2010, most of which involved allegations of sex trafficking and over 1,000 incidents with allegations of child sexual exploitation.
Some people who are victims of trafficking are told that if they do not do what they are told, their families and loved ones will be harmed or killed, keeping them trapped in fear and isolation from the world.
These people are often children who are being starved and beaten and often are sold as prostitutes.
“Educating ourselves about human trafficking is very important,” Rodarte said. “The more we’re aware of it, the more other entities are aware of it [and] other organizations such as the government, the police department and the news and media.”
The trafficking epidemic is an occurrence, not just in larger cities around the world, but happening in smaller ones as well.
“It’s really easy to look at this issue and to say it’s too big but if the people will stand up and demand that government officials listen to what we’re trying to say, they will give them the incentive to do something about it,” McKenzie Price, activist against trafficking and member of the slam group, said.
The majority of trafficking victims are between the ages of 18 and 24 and about 1.2 million children are trafficked every year.
“Human trafficking is happening here and people are being taken for labor as well as sex slavery,” Rodarte said.
“I was shocked by the amount of information that they had to share,” David Lister, sophomore Computer Information Systems major, said. “The scenarios that the poets spoke about struck a cord with everyone in the room. It was hard to find out that this happens everywhere all the time and even in our own back yard.”
The next poetry slam will be called “Used” and will be focusing on the aftermath of trafficking and what it does to the psyche. Dates and times for “Used” are not solidified as of yet.