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Melanie French

Melanie French

Melanie French is the senior marketing and communications manager at Global Impact. In this role, Melanie contributes to the organization’s marketing efforts for workplace giving and employee engagement. More importantly, she attempts to keep commas in place and capitalization under control, serving as lead writer and editor for the organization. Melanie currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband, daughter and scruffy dog. Although she loves to travel and experience new cultures (her first job out of college was as a flight attendant!), Melanie now spends most of her time drinking lukewarm coffee and chasing her toddler – which is why she needs coffee in the first place ... and also why it is lukewarm. 

By
Melanie French
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International Justice Mission

International Justice Mission (IJM) envisions a world where vulnerable women and children are protected from violence and don’t have to worry about their future – a world where slavery is put to an end. Slavery is often thought of as something that took place in the past, but the system continues today in many different ways around the world. In fact, slavery is the main issue that IJM focuses on through their work to protect people in poverty from violence. 

The organization does this by working with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and help law enforcement build a safe future with stronger justice systems. Throughout its programs in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, IJM fights land theft, sex trafficking, police abuse of power in Kenya, citizenship rights abuse, sexual violence against children and forced labor slavery. 

Since being founded in 1994, IJM has rescued more than 53,000 victims from violence and oppression, convicted more than 1,800 perpetrators in local courts, and trained over 216,000 local officials and volunteers to protect people from violence. As part of this critical work to safeguard the vulnerable and bring criminals to justice, IJM launched "The New Activist" podcast in 2016 as a platform for prominent voices in the fight for justice. Eddie Kaufholz, host of The New Activist, recalls, “We wanted to start a podcast that not only shared the work that IJM is doing, but also gave the audience a way to engage a broad and important array of justice issues. The show really strives to build bridges between the listener, the topic and ways to take meaningful next steps.”

In recent months, our country has witnessed our own fight for justice through the outcries of Black communities who have been grappling for generations with the effects of slavery. “The New Activist” lends a voice to these outcries by featuring leaders in the space, like Latasha Morrison of Be the Bridge, who discusses her work and the Black Lives Matter movement in a recent episode, “Latasha Morrison Returns to Help Us Understand.”

As someone who learns best by reading and writing, I have a hard time being fully present when listening to podcasts; however, this one had my attention from the start. Here are a few highlights from the conversation and steps we can take to support this movement for equity and ending slavery in all forms:

Highlights: “It’s more comfortable to live in a bubble.” Latasha Morrison

  • While racial violence has occurred for centuries and the list of lives lost includes names known and unknown, something about the present movement is different. With life “on pause” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been more apt to pay attention. This moment in time is an opportunity for reckoning from which we can’t turn back.
  • Some may question the effectiveness of protesting, but it is a way to show up and offer support through a type of action. Protesting doesn’t have to mean that you have all the answers; it can mean being present with a listening ear, bottles of water or box of snack bars. Be cautious that your actions aren’t just for show – deal with your own transgressions before you carry a Black Lives Matter flag. Treat your Black neighbors like their lives matter. Do something kind, even anonymously, to show love to Black individuals in your community.
  • Many have chosen to focus on the looting and violence that have taken place as a byproduct of protests, but this is not something that has taken place only in relation to racial justice. These actions have been part of American history for centuries, and we really need to look at the psychological factors behind this type of behavior. This form of social protest is a reaction to a society that values property over certain groups of people. Considering the root does help to understand the level of pain felt by marginalized peoples, even if the actions aren’t right.
  • Trauma is generational. It affects the way one generation parents the next – so that trauma is passed on and can impact the lives and livelihoods of entire communities who have had shared experiences. 
  • The concept of systemic racism has nothing to do with being good or bad people. We can be good people and still make mistakes. The important part is that we learn from those mistakes and seek opportunities to do better. There are facets of our system that need an overhaul to focus on restoring individuals and communities rather than discarding them. 

Next Steps: “It’s not our fault, but it is our responsibility.” Latasha Morrison

  1. Listen and learn from the professionals – not the individuals who are sharing content that makes you happy or comfortable. People and organizations have dedicated themselves to this subject, and there are ample resources available to help us learn and grow. 
  2. When making decisions, don’t just think about whether the outcome is beneficial to you, your family and those like you. Consider whether the result is something that is good for everyone. Make it a priority to focus on actions that will help the greatest number of people, especially if those people are typically left behind. 
  3. Join the conversation assuming that you are wrong. In doing so, you’ll be more open to learning and understanding different points of view. 

If you aren’t familiar with “The New Activist,” I highly encourage adding it to your playlist. The recent episodes are all focused on lifting Black voices, offering different perspectives and insights for this critical moment in time. Consider setting up a podcast club with your co-workers and start the conversation so we can walk the path toward racial healing together. It is well past time for us to unite and invest in a safe, secure society to create a life free of violence and fear – for all. 

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