Slave Stealers — Timothy Ballard

Honestly, this book was just a little too white-savior-ish for me and I was kind of disappointed in myself for continuing to read it even though there was something off about it.

While I enjoyed the stories of heroism about slaves during the civil rights era, I think the audacity to compare his endeavors in child-trafficking to the likes of Harriet Tubman is entirely tone-deaf and off-putting.

The way he talks about expensive expeditions to other countries and strike teams and complex, high stakes, undercover missions, seems to glamorize these situations and validate having a white-savior complex. Why does he have to coordinate with police in exotic third-world countries along the equator to fight child/sex trafficking? What about the children being sold for parts/sex here in America?

These stories he tells are inspiring or heroic, or whatever, until you realize that he is casually glossing over the enormous problem it is here in America. Especially in Utah (his home state) where the fetishization of raising colored children, by white women, funds so many of these illegitimate “adoption agencies” who will charge large amounts of money in “fees” to sell children either too small, drugged or traumatized, to vocalize the fact that they’ve been kidnapped.

Is fighting crimes against children only heroic when it doesn’t threaten to destabilize the economy of your home country? Is it the kind of thing you only do when you want to be seen as a hero?

Not to mention the fact that while he states repeatedly, “slavery didn’t end with Lincon”, he makes it seem like the only form of slavery Americans are still dealing with, is the child-trafficking taking place in other countries. Casually forgetting to mention the fact that in 1863, we stopped calling it slavery and started calling it poverty.

The suffocating prevalence of racism in America is also what feeds child-trafficking in our country. Pedophiles aren’t the only ones buying children. When white people are desperate for a baby and think adopting a black child will give the said child a better shot at being something other than “another statistic”, it creates a sort-of demand. So where is the supply coming from?

We cannot begin to tackle the problem that is child-trafficking in other countries, without first dismantling these same issues in America. And we cannot begin to dismantle these structures in America without understanding where they come from.

The root of slavery was white men needing to physically and emotionally exert control over another human being in order to feel strong, and wanting to get rich quick without doing any of the actual work themselves.

The root of child-trafficking in America is white men who have these same tendencies and qualifications for what makes a man “strong” or “powerful”, not having a suitable outlet for their rage now that it’s no longer legal to own a black man. The root of child-trafficking in America is white women needing to feel/appear charitable, thinking that raising a black baby is the way to do so, and stopping at nothing until they get what they want.

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