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Obama just quietly signed a major anti-slavery bill. It's a game changer.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 has been signed into law.

I've got some news that might be, er, tough to swallow for you shrimp lovers out there.

Some of that succulent seafood you're used to seeing on a plate like this...


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

...or — if you're more about that deep-fried life — all crispy like this...

Photo by Rod Lamkey Jr./AFP/Getty Images.

...it may have been plucked from the sea in a port that looks something like this:


Photo by Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images.

The photo above was taken in Thailand, a country where slave labor has become all too common within the fishing industry.

Fishing is a huge industry in Thailand — worth roughly $7 billion in exports every year — with people in markets like Europe and North America gobbling up whatever fishermen are catching.

The bad news? At least some of the profits these Thai companies rake in are being made on the backs of slaves, an Associated Press exposé revealed last year.

So, yep ... if you've snagged seafood from stores like Walmart or Kroger, you may have bought crustaceans caught by slaves.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Through empty promises of (paid) work, many slaves are lured into human trafficking circles across South Asia, where they're abused, drugged, and caged, with no pay for their labor. Some Thai officials, by the way, had been well aware of (and even helped facilitate) this atrocity.

"I cried," Lang Long, a former slave who'd been rescued, told The New York Times last year about being resold between fishing boats multiple times.

But thanks to the AP's original exposé and many follow-up reports, about 2,000 former slaves have been rescued by authorities, and several of their traffickers have been arrested.

And now we can mark another tally in the "win" column for justice on the issue.

President Barack Obama signed a bill on Feb. 24, 2016, that effectively banned all imports of seafood caught by slaves in Southeast Asia into the U.S.

If you're like me, your first reaction to this news might have been, "Yay!" quickly followed by, "But wait ... why wasn't this already the law of the land?"

To get to the answer, you have to travel back more than a few decades.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Until Obama signed the bill into law, an 85-year-old tariff law in place had a major loophole that allowed products processed through slave labor to make it onto U.S. soil legally. The loophole allowed imports, regardless of how a given product was made or processed, if there was not enough supply to meet demand domestically.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 kicks that loophole to the curb.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) led the charge to include the ban within the larger bill.

"It's embarrassing that for 85 years, the United States let products made with forced labor into this country," Brown said, according to the AP. "Closing this loophole gives the U.S. an important tool to fight global slavery."

This is big news because the import ban stops products other than seafood that have been created or processed by slave laborers, too.

Like gold mined by kids in poor countries.

Thousands of children, such as the boy pictured above in Africa's Burkina Faso, are subjected to hazardous gold mining operations throughout the developing world. Photo by Ahmed Ouoba/Getty Images.

And garments sewn in Bangladesh by women who've been subjected to abuse.

Remember the 400 people who'd been killed in 2013 while working in a Bangladesh factory? They were making products bought by many consumers in the West — while getting paid less than $50 a month. Photo by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images.

Yes, this ban only applies to U.S. imports, and certainly falls short of solving the global crisis of child and slave labor. But it's a big step.

And now you can help push progress forward, too. The more people who know about modern slave labor — and use their purchasing power to fight it — the better equipped we are to end the injustice.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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Former President George W. Bush and current president Donald Trump may both be Republicans but they have contrasting views when it comes to immigration.

Trump has been one of the most anti-immigrant presidents of recent memory. His Administration separated undocumented families at the border, placed bans on travelers from majority-Muslim countries, and he's proudly proclaimed, "Our country is full."

George W. Bush's legacy on immigration is a bit more nuanced. He ended catch-and-release and called for heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also championed an immigration bill that created a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

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Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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Roland Pollard and his 4-year-old daughter Jayden have been doing cheer and tumbling stunts together since Jayden could walk. When you see videos of their skills, the level of commitment is apparent—as is the supportive relationship this daddy has with his daughter.

Pollard, a former competitive cheerleader and cheer coach, told In The Know that he didn't expect Jayden to catch on to her flying skills at age 3, but she did. He said he never pressures her to perform stunts and that she enjoys it. And as a viral video of Jayden almost falling during a stunt shows, excelling at a skill requires good teaching—something Pollard appears to have mastered.

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