50 – Refuse to Do Nothing

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For the 50th Episode of the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast, Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak interview Kimberly McOwen Yim, co-author of Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery. Similar to the theme of the podcast, they focus on an individual’s power to make a difference in modern-day slavery through education, collaboration, and advocacy.

Key Points

  • Influence doesn’t happen instantly, it can take two or three “touches” before someone begins to see that they too can have an impact on modern-day slavery.
  • Yim suggests one of the best ways to get involved is by examining your own spending habits, your purchases make a difference.
  • The everyday person can offer their hobbies, skills, and resources to shelters that are transitioning trafficked victims back into everyday society.


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Dave [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 50. This week’s topic Refuse to Do Nothing. Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie [00:00:29] And my name is Sandie Morgan.

Dave [00:00:32] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. And we are recording our fiftieth episode today, Sandie, and it’s a great milestone for the show.

Sandie [00:00:46] Isn’t that great? It’s like our Golden Show.

Dave [00:00:48] It is our Golden Show, and we have a golden guest today.

Sandie [00:00:51] That’s right! She’s a California girl.

Dave [00:00:53] There you go.

Sandie [00:00:54] I am so happy to have Kimberly McOwen Yim, who is coauthor with Shayne Moore of the newly released book, Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern Day Slavery. Welcome to our podcast, Ending Human Trafficking, Kim.

Kim [00:01:16] Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Sandie [00:01:18] Well, I’ve known Kim since she started coming to a local task force meeting several years ago. And I remember the first time that she started really being an outspoken advocate. She called herself an abolitionist mama, tell us how that happened, Kim.

Kim [00:01:37] I kind of stumbled upon that name. My co-author, Shayne, was writing a blog called Theology Mama. And I was just starting to do research and going to meetings and trying to figure out my place in this movement and trying to figure out what I could do from my busy kitchen and from being my life as a mom. One of the first things I did was create these postcards on Vistaprint and it had the facts on one side and had a list of 10 things to do on the other side. And I had to name my project for Vistaprint, and I just named it Abolitionist Mama, not knowing that once I purchased those postcards when they came to my mail that that was actually printed on the corner of every postcard. I did not know that the naming that project would actually end up on the product. So, kind of by default, I ended up with all these materials that said abolitionist mama on it, and I just kind of ran with it.

Sandie [00:02:40] Oh, I didn’t know that part of the story. I just thought you were just so okay I’m a soccer mom and now I’m going to be an activist.

Kim [00:02:47] Yeah, I don’t think I’m quite that clever.

Sandie [00:02:49] So, how old are your kids?

Kim [00:02:51] My oldest is 11 and my youngest is 9.

Sandie [00:02:54] OK, so it’s not like you can just take off and become an on the road activists or become involved in being available to pick up victims anytime day or night.

Kim [00:03:04] Right. Absolutely not.

Sandie [00:03:06] So, finding your place in the anti-human trafficking movement, was it just crystal clear for you right from the get-go?

Kim [00:03:15] Absolutely not. No, no, no. It probably took me close to nine months of reading and kind of stumbling into meetings and conferences and asking questions and doing a ton of other reading and signing up to kind of slowly start finding my place and my voice. And being okay that I wasn’t an expert at those events or those meetings, that it was OK, that I didn’t come with a card or I wasn’t with someone. Once I kind of said, OK, maybe that’s what I’ve got going for me is that I’m not with something. Maybe I saw that what I thought was a limitation actually kind of became my place. Then I started kind of getting a little traction and kind of hope and the next step emerged.

Sandie [00:04:06] One of the things that really attracted me to the work that you’ve done in this book is that it leaves space for every single person to take a role, but not to leave behind the rest of their life. It’s not like you’re being called out to do this, but that we all can do something. And I love that you call it Refused to Do Nothing. So, there is a decision-making process. So, tell us a little bit about why you decided to write it into a book.

Kim [00:04:38] Well, my coauthor, Shayne, and me. She’s actually an old friend from college. I actually was very good friends with and still am with her husband and started following what she was doing with the one campaign in her fight against extreme global poverty and the HIV AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Kind of started seeing what she was doing and thought if she’s doing all these traveling, she’s going to be seeing some of this. And I’m sure she’s seen this. I need to tell her about it. So, I kind of was reaching out more as when you’re doing all this other stuff, you need to also be paying attention to this. And she kind of kept pushing back, saying, well, you need to be writing about this. You need more of a broader voice. And I kept saying, well, I got San Clemente covered. I got my four friends, and we’re kind of educating our community and doing these events. And she said, “no, you need to do more.” And she came to my house one day and started my blog for me. She’s like, “you need to push your voice out, there are more women like you.” And so, in time she had called and she’s like, “I’m ready”. I said, “What are you ready for?” She’s like, “I’m ready to write our book.” And I’m like, “What book?” And she said, “the book that you have in your head.” So, we both kind of feel like we were able to write the book that I wish I had four years ago. And I realized when she said that, that by then, I actually had 10 chapters. I did have sections in my head that I thought would be a really helpful tool for the ordinary, everyday person.

Sandie [00:06:16] I think it helps that you taught 7th grade English.

Kim [00:06:18] Yeah. And ironically, Shayne, my coauthor, did as well.

Sandie [00:06:24] Oh, she was?

Kim [00:06:25] Yeah. We laugh. We’re like, who knew? I mean, I don’t know if there’s anything there but go educators.

Sandie [00:06:32] I think part of my fascination with your story is that you didn’t wait to go to school, become an expert, but you did turn to experts and you looked at your own personal circumstances to see what you could do. I found that this book was rich in history as well. So, who are some of the people from our history that you cited in this book and kind of inspired you?

Kim [00:07:01] Yeah. I stumbled upon a book called The Great Army of Silent Abolitionist, and I believe it was a dissertation of sorts. And it started telling Line-by-line just stories of women of the first abolitionist movement of the eighteen hundred. I started to see that these were ordinary women that were not okay with the circumstances around them and the way people were enslaved. And they really refused to do anything. I mean, they might have been the wives of farmers raising 10 kids, and yet they still made sure that they had time to be a part of like sewing a quilt or attending an abolitionist movement or raising money for a speaker. And story after story of these women kind of emerged and a few of them we know a little bit more about, like the Grimke sisters, Angelina and Sarah Grimke. And these sisters grew up in the south, their father was a plantation owner and owned a number of slaves. And probably in his neck of the woods, he was probably considered a very successful business guy. And they were not okay with what was going on in their own family business, they were not okay with slavery. They were trying to initially kind of communicate to their own Southern sisters about we need to do something, this is not right and not finding a whole lot of traction in the South. And they actually moved to the north and kind of joined forces with the abolitionist movement that was going on there. And I was very inspired by them. I mean, I thought I had a busy home life and had some limitations being primarily a stay at home mom. And I thought, you’ve got to be kidding me, these women didn’t even have a vote. You know, I have a lot more power at my disposal than they did. And so, there’s definitely something I thought I could do.

Sandie [00:09:07] That’s one of the things that is a theme through this book is about power. Explain why.

Kim [00:09:15] Well, I think initially for me and I’m kind of hearing similar stories over the last few years. I guess I should back up, one particular quote that Gary Haugen wrote in his book, Terrify No More, I’m going to paraphrase, I don’t have it in front of me. He said something to the effect that the perpetrators of evil, you know, kind of like stand by perpetrators of evil when the good people in places of power rise up. I mean, I’m summarizing. But when I first read that, I thought, well, I might be a good person, but he must be talking about someone else when he’s talking about good people in places of power. Because I did not see myself as someone in places of power, but I think that is where I’m hearing time and time again is that there are other men and women who are feeling like I’m not a person in a place of power, that is our politicians, that is celebrities, people with platforms that will get people’s attention. Those are people in places of power. And what I began to start seeing is, no, I’m looking at the wrong way. The power that I do have is I have voting power. I have advocacy power as living in the United States with a vote that we have. I mean, people fought for that freedom and tirelessly fought for years, decades and decades. I have to see that I have a real, legit voice and I need to use it. And so, advocacy power, relationship power. The people that I influence in my family, my neighbors, my church community, and the women that I drop our kids off at school with. These are people who are put in my life, and I have that influence.

Sandie [00:11:04] Influence to do what?

Kim [00:11:06] Influence to engage with me. Influence to educate and begin to kind of open their eyes. What I was finding initially, though, is not everyone was ready to hear. So, you kind of have to find creative ways to get people’s attention. That’s why events are great, and showing screenings in people’s homes is creating, I guess, a desirable place or something. One of my first times I threw a screening at my house, I offered chocolate and wine just in hopes that just a little bit of chocolate and wine might entice someone to actually come over to my house and see a film on slavery, and it worked. But it wasn’t those initial conversations. Sometimes for some people, it took about two or three touches with it. And then purchasing power, I mean, I can no longer see the things that I buy and the things that I spend as neutral, they had value. It wasn’t every purchase when I started to learn who made it. Why is this so cheap? What was going on in the production of this? I started asking those questions with a little bit of information. I started questioning. I wonder why this is so cheap. I wonder if this is made here. I began to ask because I could begin to see that the money, I spent actually impacted someone else’s life. And I began to see that I could start redirecting my spending for good. And then the power of prayer. I mean, I think I definitely underestimated that initially. And now I have been reminded of it, even by some real-world leaders on the anti-trafficking, who have said we cannot underestimate that.

Sandie [00:13:08] Wow. So, when I first took a look at this book, I was amazed at how you broke the chapters down into manageable size themes. I particularly liked how at the end of each chapter, there was an opportunity to stop and process before you go on to the next chapter. Consequently, I think this is a great study for a small group, whether it’s a junior high class, or a women’s group, or a men’s group. I do hope that people do not assume that because women wrote this, that this is for a women’s group.

Kim [00:13:45] Right.

Sandie [00:13:46] I think that the content here is suitable for any group. So, at the end of the first chapter, the reflections are: think about the idea of good people in places of power. What does this mean to you? And of course, I turn that into a question for you because you’re the author. And then the second reflection. In what ways are you a good person in a place or places of power? And so, the structure of this book lets me look at other people and see what they’re doing and then turn that light back on myself. So, that light shines and I find places I didn’t know I had, and I just think that’s inspiring.

Kim [00:14:33] That’s great.

Sandie [00:14:34] So, here’s my next question. Some of the material that you wove into this that is really important for people to have as takeaways. What do you think that they need to know? Everybody. I mean, everybody has a different way of doing this, but some of the content that you want everybody to know.

Kim [00:14:56] Well, I think we both would say we want everyone to know the National Human Trafficking Hotline number.

Sandie [00:15:01] Let’s say it together.

Sandie and Kim [00:15:07] 888-373-7888

Kim [00:15:07] Yeah, I think time and time again, when people say, “what’s the one thing?” I say, “turn on your phone and put the hotline number in 888-373-7888.” That is because we do become the eyes on the ground. We’re in the nuances of the day to day life.

Sandie [00:15:27] But how does someone know when to call?

Kim [00:15:30] I keep telling people when things don’t seem quite right to you. You do not have to have all the answers or see an entire crime unfold before you, to call the hotline number and say, “I’m at the corner of this and this. This is what I’m seeing. This doesn’t seem quite right. I thought you should know.” And they might ask you some follow up questions like why doesn’t it seem quite right? Well, the shades are drawn, it’s like nine o’clock at night, but it says open. And you can’t go through the front door, you have to have a back alley. I mean, these are some real circumstances that are around my neighborhood. Or, you know, there are some kids that came by to sell these paintings at my house and I asked them a few questions. Like in my case, this girl had a cell phone, but the cell phone only dialed her ride. She couldn’t call, you know, like, what is that about? She’s from what country? And she’s selling paintings and she’s here for what? It didn’t add up to me. So, I gave her the hotline number and I called it myself. I don’t know what this is about, but this is the second time in my neighborhood, and it could just be a scam, I don’t know, but there are a few things that did not add up. So, I think when things don’t add up, I think we can use that number. Also, I think kind of looking at your spending. I think everyone can look at your spending and where you’re spending. I think an immediate change can be chocolate and coffee, very like with a whole lot of little effort, you know.

Sandie [00:17:20] I think sometimes people think they have to have all those answers. And if they just see things like someone who doesn’t speak English and someone else is doing all the talking, and they never seem to leave the work premises, whether it’s you know, you go visit your grandmother in an elder care facility or at a restaurant where you have the same waitress every single time you go in. And it’s like nobody works that many shifts. What is that about? And just asking questions. And really, for a lot of times people have this idea that “well, I don’t want to call the hotline and be wrong.” But actually, the people at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center emphasize that they are a resource center and you can call them even if you just have a question.

Kim [00:18:03] Right. I mean, it creates data. Right? So, it starts showing where some of the concerns are for the people and helps. I don’t know what your experience has been, but my experience is they’ve also encouraged me to call my local non-emergency number and the local police department. They’ve said, you know, “that’s a good tip. Why don’t you call the non-emergency line for the police department?” And it’s been helpful.

Sandie [00:18:29] One of your chapters is about being a nosy neighbor. There’s a list in here, for those of you who have the book and are turning to the page, where to look for slavery: house cleaning services, landscape, households in which domestic home workers are present, large scale agricultural operations, construction sites, casinos, garment factories, hotels, nail salons, migrant communities, zones known for prostitution, strip clubs, massage parlors, and domestic violence situations. You know, here in Orange County, we’ve had a number of what are called “servile marriages” where the “brides”, and I’m using air quotes for our listeners, have actually been brought here from abroad through some kind of a marriage broker or some kind of Internet matching service. And then they literally become slaves in a marriage fraud situation. And because it is fraudulent, it ends up falling under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act because the means of enslaving them was a fraud.

Kim [00:19:41] Right.

Sandie [00:19:41] Okay, so then your next chapter is about the Congo and your phone. Come on, I don’t live in Africa.

Kim [00:19:53] Yeah. That one surprised me as well. Four years ago, it didn’t even dawn on me what it took to build my cell phone. And when I started realizing that part of the problem that’s going on in these countries with a lot of conflicts, so, for instance, the one that I was familiar with that I mention is what’s going on in Congo. Part of the conflict is the fight over these mines and what these militia groups are fighting over are minerals in the mines. So, they’re enslaving their own people to work in these mines for these minerals that ultimately end up in my cell phone and in our computers and in any electronics. And I thought, well, then I’m just going to give up my phone, and I’m going to give up my computer. And I realized, even when I was doing research, people that were in the front lines were like, that’s not going to be helpful either. If everyone just boycotts because we have a whole big complex economy, the global economy right now. But we can begin to start asking our electronic companies, what are you doing to monitor your supply chains? We want a clean supply chain where no human being is being enslaved in the production of our products. And it’s possible, and a few companies have started saying, yeah, we want to know, too. I mean, Apple was like, yeah, I don’t even know if the minerals that end up on our products have been on the backs of slaves in Congo. And they began to ask these questions. We need a third-party auditor, let’s figure this out. And so, it’s helpful that it’s consumers that are going to have to start asking those questions, what are you doing? Because if we’re not paying attention and we don’t care, the bigger companies are not going to care. If there are a supply and demand thing, if their people are buying their products, are saying we want this, we want slave-free products. They’re going to say, we got to get our slave-free products, we’ve got to be able to show our customers what we’re doing and how our supply chains are clean.

Sandie [00:22:04] I love the fact that and we’ve talked about this before here, the California Supply Chain Transparency Act is a fabulous tool for the everyday person to be able to say to our big companies, where did all the pieces of this come from? And in a podcast, we had not too long ago (episode 45), we had guests here from Congo and we talked about the children, women.

[00:22:29] And even men that are forced into those mines. And then they also said to us that that kind of supply chain transparency is becoming something that the big businesses are demanding. So, they won’t buy particular minerals from the Congo mine because everybody knows that it’s slave labor. However, now new criminal enterprises have risen up and so they smuggle the coltan out of Congo to a neighboring country who then says, oh, we have a coltan mine. And this has been produced in a slave-free country. And so, then it gets really complicated doing supply chain transparency and asking those questions. And I think I think that’s when the idea of relationship power and influence power really becomes something, we have to be in it for the long haul.

Kim [00:23:28] Absolutely, and I think that is an excellent point because I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history where something of massive injustice has been solved overnight. It’s generations of people that are no longer brushing a problem under the rug but are saying it doesn’t matter how long this takes, we’re in it until it’s done until it’s finished until there’s no more of it. And I think that you know, we talked earlier that the marathon that it takes the determination and the resolve to just go, that’s it. It’s the line in the sand, no human life should be enslaved. And we’re not going to stop and we’re going to stick with it until that’s the case.

Sandie [00:24:20] And you closed your final chapter. Really asking a question, what is still needed? So, answer that for us.

Kim [00:24:28] Yeah, that one was fun because oftentimes there’s been a variety of people in my own life that ask that. But the job’s not done until all these first responders, everyone who’s working with kids, all of our church leaders, and until every person understands what the problem is. Because we all have a role in our jobs. I mean, teachers have a great role in prevention and education and they’re seeing dynamics at school that parents may not be, that even the administration may not be. Our nurses and our E.R. doctors are those first responders, our law enforcement. Businesspeople and they’re starting new business enterprises. I mean, it touches everyday life. And so, a certain amount of what’s still needed is everyone in their jobs having a certain level of education and knowing so that they can recognize it when they see it. And in the more ordinary people to say, yeah, I’m an abolitionist, I don’t want to see any more slavery exist in my backyard. I now know what human trafficking is and I’m going to be paying attention to it. So, I think a lot of that and the creativity of what’s still needed is I think that that everyday person but also, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of creative new ventures kind of come out. I was very inspired by Rose when I saw her bakery in Cambodia. I was very, very inspired.

Sandie [00:26:06] Tell us about Rose.

Kim [00:26:08] Yeah, she was a mom. And she really felt that she kind of felt like she was hearing from God. Take your cake baking skills to Cambodia. And she thought, what is this about? Cambodia? I don’t know any place about that. And so, the circumstance after circumstance kind of paved her way. And she just started providing job training for rescued women from sex trafficking. She just started providing some job training and gave them huge skills. So, I think as we began to see that everyday people begin to see that maybe there are some real skills that we could begin offering for shelters, for rescue. Because a lot of the people, once they are rescued, they need to transition into everyday society. And so, they need some real-life job skills like bookkeeping and shipping. And we’ve seen some fun things in Orange County with some different NGOs providing job training here for trafficking victims here. And I think more and more people sharing their hobbies, their skills in that regard. So, a lot of things I think are still needed.

Sandie [00:27:31] So, if somebody were looking to hire a survivor, a good place to start would be to go to your local human trafficking task force or coalition and ask if there is a training program where you could possibly provide entry-level jobs for their graduates. That would be great. What’s going to be the next book?

Kim [00:27:55] I don’t know. I’m not sure. We actually are talking, but we don’t have anything. I don’t know.

Sandie [00:28:02] You’ll keep us posted.

Kim [00:28:03] I’ll keep you posted.

Sandie [00:28:04] Yeah. So, I was very honored to be asked to review this book. And I just want to tell you, Kim, that that really was an honor, and this is what I said, “Refused to Do Nothing offers the new antihuman trafficking activists a careful foundation for understanding and evaluating how to enter the battle and make her effort count. The authors build a solid case for individual responsibility in our own backyard. Additionally, the reflective exercises provide an opportunity for a meaningful pause that fosters sustainable commitments.” You guys all know I use the word sustainable all the time. “Rather than emotional highs that fade with time and distance. This is the small group study guide that I’ve been looking for and will recommend to students, community service groups, and churches.” We are just delighted to have this. And congratulations on a job well done.

Kim [00:29:00] Thank you very much. I mean, I have to say, you were definitely who I was going to in those early days going, “what is going on? How can I get involved?” And I had really looked at you as an expert on the first line with all your knowledge. I feel like you’ve contributed a lot to this end.

Sandie [00:29:18] Well, we’ll keep working together.

Kim [00:29:19] Yeah, absolutely. I look forward to it.

Sandie [00:29:21] Alright. What a model for seventh grade English teachers out there, here’s something you can do.

Dave [00:29:27] And I want to know how we can get our paws of this book. So, where we can go to read the blog and get on the book, is it maybe on Amazon or a better place for us to go?

Kim [00:29:39] Yes, you can get it on Amazon. You can get at Intervarsity Press, IntervarsityPress.com. They have them as well, that’s our publisher. And I might add that this book is one of the first of a new line of books from IVP, The Crescendo Line. And every author of that line is women, women authors in both fiction and nonfiction. So, they’re really focused on kind of amplifying the woman’s voice in print, and it’s a great line of books. So, this is one of the first of a few out of that particular new line of books.

Sandie [00:30:24] Great. Well, we will post those links on the show notes, and to your blog. I love your blog.

Kim [00:30:31] Thank you.

Dave [00:30:32] Yes, absolutely. And I suspect that folks might have some questions for either us or Kim and we’ll be sure to get those questions along to Kim. So, if you do have questions, there’s a couple of ways to send us comments, questions, or feedback. You can email us at gcwj@vanguard.edu, or you can certainly call the Global Center for Women and Justice at 714-966-6360. And we’re always happy to hear from you and to learn how we can answer your questions and put you in touch with more resources.

Sandie [00:31:10] Absolutely. And we want to thank you, Kim, for being with us today.

Kim [00:31:14] Thanks for having me.

Dave [00:31:15] Great. Thank you. Thank you both, as always. And just a reminder for our audience that if you aren’t already on our newsletter, be sure to hop on to the Global Center for Women and Justice Web site. You can get there at gcwj.vanguard.edu And just go to the lower left-hand corner and you will find a place to get on our newsletter. You can stay up to date on things that the center is doing. And in the meantime, we will see you again in two weeks. Take care, everybody.


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