It is often said that human trafficking is a form of slavery or modern-day slavery. 

Over the past several years, there has been significant movement surrounding racial justice and the impact that racism and discrimination have on systemic societal issues. This has sparked internal conversation at Mosaic and we have decided to no longer use the terms “slavery,” or “modern-day slavery” to describe human trafficking.

We understand that words hold power and we believe that the use of ‘slavery’ when describing human trafficking can be problematic. By equating what is now known as human trafficking to slavery, it minimizes and shifts focus away from the history of chattel slavery in the United States. We agree with the National Survivor Network, in “that slavery and trafficking are two different experiences that may correlate and have similar structural concepts but are not the same.” 

In the past, Mosaic has used the term “modern-day slavery,” when referring to human trafficking in our messaging and communications; we now recognize the harm caused by these words and are making a conscious effort to change our dialogue. Not only do we find using these phrases harmful to describe human trafficking, but in most cases it is not an accurate comparison.

Human trafficking is a harrowing crime that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain labor or commercial sex act. Whereas slavery was a legal institution in the United States from the 16th – 19th century. 

In the 16th – 19th centuries, the Transatlantic Slave Trade brought millions of people from Africa to the Americas with the intention of enslaving them. People were enslaved because of who they are – the color of their skin; their lives and livelihood were seen as unimportant compared to the value of free labor they would provide to the slave owner. This differs from human trafficking in that traffickers intentionally find and exploit the vulnerabilities of their victims, and while anyone can be subjected to human trafficking, not just anyone was subjected to slavery in the United States. 

Although we at Mosaic now refrain from using slavery in reference to human trafficking, we also understand that some survivors identify their experience as slavery and we respect their right to self-identify. We understand and recognize that human trafficking is a very complex crime and there are some trafficking situations in which the victims’ experience may be reflective of slavery. 

In recognition of Juneteenth, we invite you to rethink the use of the terms slavery and modern-day slavery when talking about human trafficking. Juneteenth is often called Freedom Day to celebrate the freeing of enslaved people. Despite the fact that slavery was illegal in the United States, discrimination, violence and hate has continued toward Black Americans and People of Color. 

We also recognize that there is a direct correlation between human trafficking and race. Human trafficking disproportionally impacts BIPOC communities and we recognize the racial injustices that perpetuate human trafficking.

We understand that there are many people and anti-trafficking organizations that continue to use the terms slavery and modern-day slavery, and we do not intend to condemn or disrespect the language they choose to use. We hope others will join us in changing their dialogue and bringing about a change in the way we think about human trafficking. 

Learning is a lifelong journey, and we will continue to adjust our language as we learn and grow. 


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