By Bethany Anderson
All ages gathered to pour red sand into the cracks in our downtown Mountain City sidewalks last Friday evening, prompting many others to ask questions and join in.
Red Sand Project began with artist and activist Molly Gochman in 2014. “a participatory artwork that uses sidewalk interventions and earthwork installations to create opportunities for people to question, connect and take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation.”
Filling cracks in sidewalks with red sand draws attention to people “who fall through the metaphorical cracks,” the artist’s website states.
Human trafficking, also referred to as modern slavery, is a wide-reaching global issue. About 40.3 million people were reportedly in modern slavery in 2016, according to a 2017 report from the International Labour Organization and Walk Free Foundation.
The report stated that of the 40.3 million people, about 24.9 million were in forced labor, and 15.4 million were living in a forced marriage without their consent. Overall, women and girls made up 28.7 million, or 71 percent.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee proclaimed July 28–August 3, as Human Trafficking Awareness Week in the state, which Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor supported with a declaration.
About 94 children are trafficked each month in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
“The trauma experienced by those who are trafficked can have lifelong effects on their mental, physical, psychological and social health, which makes it a challenge for public health in our state,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey. “It is important that we continue our work with our partners to prevent human trafficking and educate Tennesseans on how to identify the signals for this crime and support those who have been impacted by it.”
The Red Sand Project hopes to bring awareness to the issue of Human Trafficking by making others take notice, stop, and talk about it. They encourage others to get involved too. You can do so by ordering a kit from their website redsandproject.org and by posting pictures to social media using their hashtag: #redsandproject to help get the word out.