Please Say "NO" to Human Trafficking at the Happiest Place on Earth

Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm a Disney fan to nth degree. When people say that Disneyland/World is the "happiest place on Earth," I exuberantly agree. For me each visit to Disney World is an opportunity to escape into a endless fantasy land where I get to play, relax, giggle and just savor every magical moment. The wonder and excellence of it all inspires me, while the vision and dream of one man to unleash this empire makes me gasp in awe. Even my littlest punkin' gives Walt two-thumbs up.


Only here's the thing, every time we go I get all excited to jump on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride with my family-- after all, it's a CLASSIC! It's filled with treasure and loot and cannons and misty-caverns, but without fail we round a bend and get to this:

{via}

In the middle of a boat filled with families ingesting the swash-buckling tale, I get gut-punched with the image of women being tied up and sold. The last time I consulted with my conscience, women being auctioned off to the highest bidder is not an occasion suitable for our entertainment any more than animatronic African Americans set in a plantation would prove amusement material. The thought makes my stomach lurch. It's almost too painful to even put in black-and-white letters.

I'm as guilty as the rest of the world. I stifle the uneasy feeling that I get when we pass as I try to logic  that I'm being overly sensitive. Only am I? I don't think so. Which is why I'm writing this now.

Every image that depicts human slavery in jest allows us to further abdicate our responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. These scenes falsely represent slavery as a thing of storybook tales. Only more people are enslaved throughout the world today than in any other period of history. I shudder. 

So why then do we delight in this fallacious fairy tale? Because asking for change means speaking up and quite possibly, standing out. It means bucking convention and being the real-life hero of the day.

I wonder if the irony is lost on pimps and traffickers who take their girls on trips to Disney's amusement parks? {And YES, this does happen!} And the girls? Why wouldn't it look as if sex trafficking is the thing of only our wildest stories? Isn't that what we show them every day? That their reality is all a facade? That they can't possibly be slaves or have a price on their bodies?

Even when it's right there before us-- in the "happiest place on Earth"-- we choose to turn our heads and close our hearts. To be certain, there is a difference between ignorance and willful propaganda. I hope that as the modern day plight of slavery surfaces that Disney will thoughtfully reconsider the message that it sends out to the thousands upon thousands of people that it influences each day. After all, they have our attention. So let's not waste the opportunity to do what is right.


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