Follow This, TEDxColumbus

FOLLOW THIS: THERESA FLORES

[by Kendra Hovey]

The game is over. The parsing and commentary might last a day or two more, maybe three, and then we’ll move on. So before the national conversation around the Super Bowl wraps up, there’s something important to acknowledge: That national conversation has broadened, and it’s a direct result of the work of people such as TEDxColumbus speaker Theresa Flores and the many others who are bringing awareness to the issue of human trafficking.

Flores’ organization S.O.A.P was at the Super Bowl, as usual, working to reach those forced into the sex trade. But also, as articles in the Times Picayune and the Huffington Post suggest, human trafficking—a reality at these large-scale events—is entering into the usual chatter around the Super Bowl. It’s a small part of the Super Bowl talk, but that it is being mentioned, at all, is significant.

Also significant is the shift in language. After Flores’ 2011 talk, the word “prostitution” pretty much left my vocabulary. It’s not the right word for what really happens. That’s just me, of course, but all around, at least in the media, the word “prostitution” is giving way to the more accurate term “human trafficking.”

It’s no small thing to change how we talk.

In a post from last year, FT shared some news from Flores. More has accumulated since. 2012 saw the release of “The Girl Next Door,” a 25-minute film based on the life of Theresa Flores. Directed by Andrea Picco while a student at New York Film Academy, the documentary has made the rounds at various festivals, including the Women’s Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles. It was also an Official Selection at Indianapolis’ Heartland Festival. Last month it was screened here in Columbus as part of the Ohio Liberators Awards, and this very week it will show in Amagansett, New York in the Hamptons. Back in January, TED Blog included Flores’ TEDxColumbus talk in a collection of “5 brave personal stories of domestic abuse.”

[We should also mention that 2012 presenter Gary Wenk was featured in the December TEDx blog post: Eat this TEDx Talk: 7 talks on food and its future.]

And one last bit of recent news: Word has it that Flores is currently working with a European publisher to release her book, The Slave Across the Street, to audiences overseas.

Kendra Hovey is editor and head writer at Follow This. On Twitter @KendraHovey, she blogs at kendrahovey.com