With the Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th anniversary approaching this weekend, MTV’s campus channel, mtvU, has launched a new poetry series. The poems were written by sex slavery survivors in the U.S., and excepts are read by musicians Alicia Keys and P!nk, and actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
The poems are powerful reminders that slavery still takes a toll on human lives, in the U.S. and around the world.
“I love myself, even if no one else does,” writes Alexis in one poem. “All anyone ever sees,” writes Monique, “is the fake me I have to be.”
The poems are part of mtvU’s Against our Will campaign, which reaches nine million college students on 750 campuses. Free the Slaves is a campaign partner with mtvU. Six slavery survivor poems were developed by campaign partner, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS).
The full text of each poem is available online, and portions of each poem have been read by well-known artists to amplify their impact among young anti-slavery activists.
- “Pimps” | Alicia Keys reads an excerpt from the poetry of Alexis, an 18-year old trafficking survivor, as she talks about self-worth and loving herself, despite her pimp’s exploitation of her.
- “Children of the Night?” | Written by Leisa, Jada Pinkett Smith reads a portion of a poem about how deception by pimps leads to the destruction of those who are trafficked.
- “I Remember” | P!nk voices the words of Jennifer, a trafficking survivor who writes about remembering who she is.
- Night Life” | 21 year-old Jennifer comes to grips with the traumas she experienced and warns other girls in the excerpt of this poem read by Jada Pinkett Smith.
- “My Life” | Voiced by Alicia Keys and authored by 16 year-old trafficking survivor, Sheena, who writes about the abuses she faced, and her difficulty leaving.
- “Look in My Eyes” | Monique, a 19 year-old trafficking survivor, writes of people willfully seeing a false image of her in this spot voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith.
All six poems are available here.