Category Archives: US Trafficking

Stacy Jewell Lewis’ 7 Layers Captive’ Receives Rave Reviews!

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Magic Time! DC Black Theatre Festival: ’7 Layers Captive’

The DC Black Theatre Festival this year offered some 45 self-produced shows, most one time only. Organized annually by the DC Drama Department, a nonprofit educational theater company, the festival featured performances in four categories: drama, deaf artists, family, and inspirational. I have sampled and reported on a few—but to fully appreciate the festival’s unique range of programming, see the complete schedule online.

“A prostituted child doesn’t know who will exploit her next. But she doesn’t have to go very far,” read an ad that appeared on Metro platforms about a year ago. It was sponsored by Shared Hope International, a faith-based nonprofit whose cause is sex trafficking.

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I remember puzzling over the cryptic diagram, surprised that an ad on this topic was running in Washington, DC. Like most people, I harbored a notion that sex trafficking of minors happens far away in other countries, not right here. So seeing Stacy Jewell Lewispowerful new play in this year’s Black Theatre Festival,7 Layers Captive, was an unforgettable eye-opener.

Written, produced, directed, and performed by Lewis, 7 Layers Captive recounts Lewis’ own real story of being abducted into sex trafficking.

At the age of 19, when Lewis was on her way to her home in the Capital Hill neighborhood where she lived with her newborn and the boy’s father, her bus arrived early and she missed it. It was past 9:30. Not wanting to wait an hour for another, she accepted a ride offered by a frail-looking grandfather sort, whom she figured she could clock if there was trouble. Unknown to her, he was in cahoots with a pistol-packing pimp who for weeks had been observing the patterns of her life and the people closest to her. She was driven to New York City, where the pimp seasoned her, threatening to kill her baby if she escaped, then put to work on the streets. He made her call him Daddy and episodically beat her, making sure not to bruise her face so she could keep bringing him money. Some of the other girls in his stable were as young as 12.

Breathtakingly gripping and narratively harrowing, 7 Layers Captive is a tour de force of truth-telling. Lewis’ script is itself a work of poetry. Line after line went by that resonated exquisitely with perception and distilled emotion. Lewis’ artfully measured delivery seemed to leave moments around the rich language for it to register. Still the gifted writing made me mentally want to push pause to relish it.
stacyjewelllewisLewis is a disarming and engaging performer. She alone speaks during the play (D’Anche silently portrays Lewis’ younger self during the seasoning scene; Nate Jewell stands in silently for the menacing pimp).  She tells her horrific story not with the agony and grim suffering one might expect but with a striking inner composure and a surprising smile on her lips. It’s as if, though she is recalling explicitly all the torments she went through, she has survived and, now more than ten years after, has arrived whole at a healed place from which she feels empowered to share her whole truth. Not because she wants our pity but because she deeply really wants us to understand what her story means.

Walter Cavanaugh and Chris Barz (aka) X||Z have produced original music and a sound design that eloquently amplifies Lewis’ riveting descent into a cacophonous dark world and ultimate ascent into harmony and light. The disturbing end of Act One is expressed viscerally by their sound track during an extended hallucinatory passage in which Lewis is drugged by her pimp into numbness, her face vacant, her voice silent. The effect is stunning.

Lewis enters in Act Two costumed like a 19th-century madam and delivers one of the most amazingly multilayered monologues I’ve ever heard on stage. Smiling all the while, she teases us with sexual-temptress cliches, simultaneously explicating the history of women in prostitution in America. This is who you see when you look at such a woman, Lewis seems to be saying; this is what’s really going on inside her body and soul because this is what has happened to her.

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7 Layers Captive ends on an uplifting note as Lewis tells of the personal redemption that graced her by faith. Whether or not one leaves the theater believing what Lewis believes, one truly believes her belief. And one cannot but feel awe and reverence at the magnificent veracity in the performance she has shared.

Running Time: 90 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

7 Layers Captive played one show only on June 26, 2014 at Sitar Arts Center – 1700 Kalorama Road NW, in Washington, DC. This year’s Black Theatre Festival ends tomorrow, Sunday, June 29th. The complete schedule is online.

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How much do we value speakers? by Barbara Amaya

My dear friend and fellow survivor Barbara Amaya wrote this article for the Washington Times.  This has been a hot topic among survivors and Barbara expressed our thoughts in a clear and concise way. Please read the article  and add your comments.

Who is Barbara Amaya:

Barbara Amaya brings a unique perspective and voice to her writing, the voice of a survivor. Though Barbara endured early trauma and abuse, she refuses to be a victim. She aims to bring a message of hope and strength to others through her writing and spoken word.

Barbara volunteers with standupforkids.org a national nonprofit organization that works with runaway children. She’s currently writing a book, called Girl’s Guide to Survival: Life Lessons from the Street. Barbara is available for speaking engagements and you can follow her on Twitter BarbaraAmaya4, or contact her through her website at Barbaraamaya.com or on Facebook.

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Watch Shamere McKenzie and Stacey Lewis dramatic presentation at the 2011 DC Stop Modern Day Slavery Walk

On October 22, 2011, Shamere McKenzie was one of the survivor speakers for the DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk.  Not only did she bring a different kind of presentation she brought along her friend Stacey Lewis who is also a survivor.  The two presentation titled “Our children are victims not criminal”.  Watch Shamere and Stacey present here

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Shamere McKenzie travels with DOJ, OJJDP, Amber Alert and other survivors to Salt Lake City, Utah

The Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Amber Alert held a Human Trafficking Symposium in Salt Lake City, Utah. Survivors from all over the country were present to include Shamere McKenzie.

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and leaders from various nonprofit organizations from across the country and beyond, including Mexico and Montreal, attended in an attempt to learn more about what they can do for victims and to prevent human trafficking in their communities...Read more 


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Shamere McKenzie Speaks at Anne Arundel Community College

An Anne Arundel Community College event educated the public about human trafficking during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 22-28.

Shamere McKenzie was invited to speak…..read more about the event

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Shamere McKenzie on VA news

On May 31, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell signed legislation to combat human trafficking and provide protection for the victims of trafficking so that they are not convicted of crimes they were forced to commit. Survivors of Slavery speaker Shamere McKenzie tells reporters that trafficking cannot be tolerated.

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Shamere McKenzie addresses National Association of Attorneys General

from National Association of Attorneys General website: http://naag.org/attorneys-general-unite-to-fight-human-trafficking.php

ATTORNEYS GENERAL UNITE TO FIGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING

McKenna announces presidential initiative against modern-day slavery

June 23, 2011

CHICAGO—Attorney General Rob McKenna announced his 2011-2012 presidential initiative to combat human trafficking nationwide at a June 23 launch event in Chicago following his installation as president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

Flanked by members of his hand-picked leadership council, McKenna led a panel discussion on the “Pillars of Hope: Attorneys General Unite against Human Trafficking,” focusing on four “pillars” or goals in the fight against human trafficking.

McKenna discussed the importance of national leadership in identifying victims of human trafficking and providing them the hope and services they need to escape their current situations. He also stressed the importance of identifying, tracking and holding accountable those who traffic in humans and those who purchase their services.

“Human trafficking is a $32 billion global industry driven by trafficking profit. It’s the fastest growing and second largest criminal activity in the world, tied with arms and after drug dealing,” McKenna said. “Yet for many this heinous crime lurks in the shadows. It’s time to bring it out into the light, to bring hope and resources to victims and to bring justice to traffickers and those who buy victims from them.”

Additional panelists included:

  • North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, 2010-11 NAAG President;
  • Ken Thompson, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Legal Officer, LexisNexis Legal & Professional;
  • Massachusetts Attorney Martha Coakley, Leadership Council;
  • Alice Hill, Sr. Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security;
  • Mary Anderson, Senior Advisor to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Leadership Council;
  • Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, Leadership Council; and
  • Shamere McKenzie, a youth survivor and advocate.

The presidential initiative will also focus on:

  • Holding traffickers and abusers accountable;
  • Mobilizing communities to provide hope and care for victims; and
  • Raising public awareness and reducing demand.

Video of the panel discussion will be posted on the NAAG Web site by 4 p.m. Central Time.

The presidential initiative is a year-long commitment by the NAAG President to bring the resources of his presidency to a specific national problem, culminating in Presidential Summit in Seattle in March.

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