Community Voices

It’s nearly 2018 and, unbelievably, we’re still struggling with slavery

It is hard to believe that almost on the eve of 2018, we are still struggling with one of the darkest issues known to man — human slavery. I was reminded of this recently when Dinizulu Gene Tinnie sent me an email informing me of The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, which was commemorated in the free world on Saturday.

Bea Hines.JPG
Bea L. Hines

Tinnie, is one of the most compassionate and dedicated men I know. His mission is to fight and abolish slavery wherever it exists. Often that is right under our nose, so to speak. In his email he wrote:

“It is a fair guess that most Americans consider slavery to be a thing of the past, because it officially ended in the U.S. in 1865 ... but the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery, which defined most of this country’s history, lives on today in many forms. It may also be easily forgotten that slavery, as we can recall from the history of the ‘Middle Passage,’ which forcibly brought millions of Africans across the ocean, also includes human trafficking, and the brutal practice of often selling children into sex trafficking.”

This is why, Tinnie wrote, “the United Nations has designated Dec. 2 [a date known in American history as the anniversary of the 1859 hanging of Abolitionist John Brown] as an international day of awareness, to call global attention to the pervasive crimes of slavery in our time.”

Dec. 2 also marks the date in 1949 of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

According to statistics from the United Nations, “Slavery is not merely a historical relic. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery... a term used as an umbrella covering practices such as forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power... In addition, more than 150 million children are subject to child labor, accounting for almost one in 10 children around the world.”

For Tinnie and countless other freedom-loving individuals, slavery has many kinds of shackles. The shackles come “in the form of the prison system, sharecropping, migrant labor camps, under the cover of the foster care system, and among millions of workers who are not paid a living wage,” Tinnie said.

Then, there is the kind of slavery that attacks the minds of decent people, allowing them to become blind to the suffering of others. I believe this is one of the worst kinds of slavery. We are, after all, our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

Which brings me to another event hoping to shed more light on this serious and perplexing problem: Temple Beth Or, will celebrate Hanukkah 2017 at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the theme, “Bringing the Light of Hope to the Victims of Human Trafficking.”

“As we celebrate our freedom from religious oppression on Hanukkah, let’s light a candle of hope for the thousands of children who are enslaved in an epidemic plaguing our South Florida community,” Andrea Loring Dunn of Temple Beth Or said.

Kind of hard to believe, right? Here in our beloved South Florida children are being enslaved everyday. Some of them might even be children you know. Think about that the next time a child goes missing and is not found again.

The Hanukkah event at Temple Beth Or will include a candle lighting ceremony (you may bring your own menorahs and candles), a Hanukkah sing-along with the synagogue’s choir and a panel discussion. Panelists will include Kristy Nunez of the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s office; Jean Tong-Noon, director of Thread of Life International, Giving our Youth a Helping Hand; Annette Katz, co-chair, TBO Social Justice Team; Detective Joe Corillo, Human Trafficking Specialist, and Sally Russomanno, co-chair National Council of Jewish Women Human Trafficking Task Force. Following the program Sufganiyot Oneg, the traditional jelly doughnuts, will be served. The community is invited to learn more and to become an advocate to abolish this problem.

Church voice recital

Oscar Diaz Jr., the artistic director of the Performer’s Music Institute (PMI), will present some of the most talented singers in South Florida in a voice recital at 7 p.m. Saturday at Miami Shores Community Church (United Church of Christ), at 9823 NE Fourth Ave. in Miami Shores.

The program will include vocal selections from opera, musical theater, art songs and popular music. In a special memoriam, the singers will pay tribute to Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste, also known as the “Haitian Diva,” who recently died in an accidental fall. Jean-Baptist was a 10-year student of the PMI.

The performers at the recital will be: Rosie Herrera, lyric-coloratura soprano; Miguel Llerena, tenor; Melissa Ruiz, light-lyric soprano, and Michael Zlastkin, bass. They will be accompanied by pianists Gregory Szeto and Jared Peroune. For more information, call Diaz at 305-757-7725. Admission is free.

Concert and toy drive

The second annual Holiday Concert and Toy Drive, presented by the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations, will be 4 p.m. Sunday at Kendall Presbyterian Church, 8485 SW 112th St.

The program will feature talented musicians from the South Florida community who will perform holiday favorites. The performers will include Shelia Barish, Beverly Murdock, Andres Otero, Chris Dreeson, Sophia Tamayo, Linda Deighan, Don Bennett, Francine Birns, and choirs from Devon Aire K-8 and Kenwood K-8 schools.

As a special treat, Michael Rosenberg will accompany Joana Martinez, daughter of Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez, on an original composition written by Rosenberg entitled, “The Children of the World.” Rosenberg said the song is dedicated to the “millions of children who don’t have this wonderful, happy holiday season we have, but rather misery and death in so many cases. This special song to them offers hope. Joana, who is only 14, delivers the message wonderfully with her beautiful voice.”

Admission is an unwrapped toy, or toys, which will go to the needy children in the community. Refreshments will be served following the concert.

Hanukkah party

You are invited to the 41st Hanukkah Party, presented by the Association for Jewish Special Education (AJSE), from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Blvd.

The program will include the lighting of the Hanukkah candles, games, music and a “white elephant auction.” The cost is $3 per person.

The AJSE is a local, private, nonprofit, with the mission to provide holiday celebrations and life cycle events for Jewish adults with developmental disabilities and their friends. The organization is supported by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

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