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Photo: Twenty 20 | Chasity

Conscious Magazine is excited to announce the official media partnership with Who They Are, to raise awareness of the efforts combating the global anti-Human Trafficking movement. Who They Are is a media platform dedicated to telling the heroic stories of modern-day abolitionists, as well as, offer tangible solutions to fight on behalf of the 40 million victims of human trafficking currently enslaved across the world.

To kick-off our partnership, we are highlighting, Founder (and Co-Founder of Conscious Magazine) of Who They Are, Elena Baxter and her journey to becoming an anti-human trafficking journalist, as well as her vision for creating this new endeavor. We hope that you are inspired to educate yourself further and take action, as well as get to know Elena Baxter.

Elena Baxter, Co-Founder of Conscious Magazine and Founder of Who They Are

Q | Elena, give us a quick glimpse into who you are!
I’ve been a New York City resident for the last eight years and a social entrepreneur the whole time. There's been plenty of ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Living on the Upper East Side I try to get to Central Park as often as possible. Other than that, I’ve been fortunate to build a strong community of friends and fellow social entrepreneurs. It’s been a fun journey!

Q | In an era where the media dominates the conversation, how did you first learn and get involved in the anti-human trafficking space?
Years ago, before Co-Founding Conscious Magazine, my sister invited me to start volunteering for a domestic anti-human trafficking organization based out of New York City. At the time, roughly ten years ago, I had only known about trafficking overseas. When I learned that it was happening in the U.S., and in such mass amounts, my eyes were opened. This knowledge never really left me. If I step back and look at the big picture, I think running in good circles with good-human centered people put me on this trajectory. Also, during that time, social media was starting to explode, and so was the rise of idle media and entertainment, and I believe witnessing that fueled me, even more, to learn more about Human Trafficking.

Q | How have you seen the conversation shift today?
Because of technology, we have more information than ever before. While I believe that the conversation is shifting already, the next generation will be more connected globally with more access to social awareness. However, the fact that it is 2018 and there are still 40 million slaves across the globe today tells me that we have a lot of work ahead of us, and while people may be receiving the information, perhaps they aren’t digesting it and responding to it.

Q | Why do you believe that people aren’t responding to what they are learning?
Well, if I am going to get down to brass tacks, I think a big piece of the problem is partly that people don’t think they can do anything about this massive global issue. But, when it comes to change, it means we have to step forward and challenge our comforts. That would mean we change the way we consume and where we are spending our dollars (fashion, food, etc.). That also means we have to put our time to good use, as well as our voices and voting to work.

On the flip side, there is a community of people that have responded to what they learned about human trafficking, and they are everyday people with normal jobs and lifestyles that are making a conscious decision to know what is going on and do something about it.

Q | How did Who They Are ignite?
There are many layers to this answer, but the immediate one is that, as a black and white type of person, I was becoming discouraged about the moral issues of our country. Countless #MeToo articles were coming out every day, the numbers for slavery were only increasing, and frankly, I was frustrated with how it seemed mostly woman paving the way for change, while men were contributing to this global issue. I also wanted to use my skills and the platform we built through Conscious Magazine to do more for the fight against Human Trafficking. I ended up watching the I Am Jane Doe documentary on Netflix, and it changed my perspective in a big way, as well as humbled my attitude towards men. Not only did it remind me that there are so many heroes out there and their stories that deserve to be told, but it wasn’t just women doing something. There were many men, with no fame, no agenda, just the passion to do something, and it really impacted me. And honestly, the whole thing brought me to tears. Just as much as I was angered and frustrated by the issue, beauty washed over me when I saw these people, men, women, survivors, mothers, and more, literally banging on the doors of Congress for change, and fighting for the good of others. It was in that moment, I knew I needed to talk about these individuals. We hear about interesting topics on a daily basis, and it does nothing to feed our souls. In fact, it probably does more damage than we realize. But, when we hear about an individual, with no popularity, plain to the eye, but they have character, we’re talking, grit, passion, and standing in the face of evil, that is when we are moved in our hearts and we start to change.

Also, I think there is a common theme we hear daily that our freedoms are constantly at risk. Therefore, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we need to be in control, which when you compare to the lifestyle of a modern slave, our fear is actually a liberty. I, by no means, think people don’t have a right to stand up for themselves and what they believe, I just want to get to a place where we are also being realistic about the fact that there are real people that live in chains every day, and that the common population is not. And as a result, our liberty should be directed in another way. We should be humbled by it.

Q | What do you suggest people do to get involved?
Anyone can start small by googling Human Trafficking and educate themselves. Jump in and start reading. From there, I believe that if there's tug on your heart, it will lead you to get connected. And after all of that, get out and vote. There are lobby days, bills and more that we all get to have a voice for. Call your congressman and ask for transparency. More information can be found on my website: WhoTheyAre.com.

Q | What is one thing that people should know about victims of Human Trafficking?
I recently learned after interviewing the aftercare program director at OUR Rescue that the victims, both current and former, young and old, all have dreams, passions, desires and hope for their future.

Stay tuned for more on Human Trafficking Awareness updates.

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FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we feature powerful stories about global initiatives, innovation, community development, social impact and more. You can read more stories like this and connect with a growing community of global leaders when you join as a member.

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