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So, do you want to buy a virgin?

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So, do you want to buy a 20-year-old virgin?

Does that question piss you off? Good, it should! It’s offensive!

What if I told you that this young lady, her name is Katherine, was auctioning off her virginity out of financial necessity? You see, according to the report, her family’s house burnt down, and she had to leave college so that she could help support her parents and two younger sisters.This story hit a couple of days ago after the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Reno, Nevada had a “Katherine Stone Virgin Coming Out Party”. If you didn’t hear about it, it’s understandable. It was invitation only and part of Dennis Hof’s 69th birthday party. Hof, is the owner of the brothel sponsoring the auction.

Right about now you’re probably incredibly pissed at this guy Hoff… I know I am.

You see it’s really easy to get ticked off about Dennis Hof. We can decry him as a horrific person, a pimp, somebody who profits off of others misery & loneliness; but he already admits to this. In fact, his biography is called “The art of the pimp: A love story”. He acknowledges his sliminess, relishes in the fact that he’s a bottom-dweller, earning money off of misfortune.

However, I want to expand this argument and use it as a commentary on the general state of the rest of us. While the stories and subsequent anger will most likely concentrate on Hof, a self-professed Pimp, we should also examine what this story says about everybody else. If you really read the story, absent of Hof and what he’s promoting, A 20-year-old woman, born in Chile, has no other economic alternative but to sell her virginity to pay the bills. She is getting in to this business, “the life” because she has to contribute to her family, to support her sisters—and in time, hopefully return to college.

I’ve known many young women who have turned to commercial sex out of economic necessity. So many, I’ve coined a term I call “Semi-willing-ish”. They’re not doing it because they’re willing, because they want to, they’re choosing the least, worst choice in order to survive. This story isn’t just a reflection of Hof, a pimp—but also us, uninvolved bystanders.

If Katherine’s house burned down, where is her community to help her rebuild? If her parents need economic support, where are the jobs and industry willing to take them on? If her sisters need watching, where are the local services to lend a hand in a moment of need? It’s easy to get pissed off at the pimp, but he’s not the reason that this is happening; he’s responding to supply and demand. This is happening because a young woman needs to earn a living, and there are very few opportunities available for her. This is happening because there are plenty of people willing to pay for her as a commodity.

So if you really want to make a difference, to prevent stuff like this from happening in the future, you help to build opportunity for people like Katherine. You’re working to get at-risk individuals jobs, teaching people how to read, donating legal counsel to single parents trying to get their kids back, you’re helping to write resume’s & cover letters & giving fashion & makeup advice for job interviews. If you want to make a difference you donate your time to those who are going through a rough patch so that they don’t find themselves in need of selling themselves to make ends meet. But we’re not going to do that. We’re going to get mad at the pimp, not at ourselves for dropping the ball; for standing by while a young woman auctions off her virginity so that her family, and herself can economically survive.

All over the country this story is setting the anti-trafficking community abuzz. This article and the information within will be shared & shared again. I’m sure that many people, even business owners will read it & get pissed off at what’s happening. I’m wondering if any one of these people, any single one, will e-mail her & offer her a decent-paying job so she doesn’t have to go through with it. If there is one business owner willing to do that, her e-mail is

So you’ve got to understand that I’m not saying to not be pissed off at Hof the pimp. I’m saying that he is taking advantage of a situation that we, the people, can prevent. I’m saying that we have to start taking responsibility for the situations and parameters that allow exploitative practices to occur and flourish.

Ending sex trafficking, and in-turn, promoting social justice is incredibly difficult. What must happen is to build, to develop a new way of existing that makes exploitation unnecessary. We can do it, but it’s going to take a bit more than getting pissed off at a pimp & sharing our outrage on Facebook.

– JB

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Make your voice heard.


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In & around 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. He was a goldsmith & found that his skills translated into etching out type that could be pressed into paper. This single development shifted power on a massive scale. Now anyone who was able to become literate could spread information on a massive scale.

Today, we’re in the midst of a new communication revolution. The Internet & social media has given power to the people. Anyone with a keyboard & access is able to have their voice heard around the world. The implications are staggering. In the United States, 6 corporations own roughly 90% of the media in this country. This isn’t conspiracy theory stuff, this is well documented and researched. That means everything that the average person knows comes from very, very few sources. In short, you’re not getting the full picture. Social media however, is helping to change that. It is giving voices to billions of previously voiceless individuals.

Don’t believe in the power of Social Media?

We had two massive case studies this week.

First: one tweet from Taylor Swift shut down the largest most powerful corporation in human history.

Second: a single picture which made the rounds on social media after a horrific shooting is spurring the complete shutdown of the confederate flag.

Just think about this for a moment, a 25 year old pop star caused a complete re-think of a multinational conglomerate by writing “We don’t ask you for free iPhones, please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation”. That’s it, that’s all she wrote. But rather than endure the wrath of her legions of loyal fans & social media junkies, Apple retreated and reversed their corporate policies.

As for the confederate flag, it withstood the civil war, but not facebook. The backlash from the tragic murder of nine churchgoing folks, and the resulting outrage, is causing states, and corporations to instantly and completely distance themselves from the symbol. The confederate flag stood after the deaths of millions, stood after the jim crow era, stood at the death of MLK, but fell after outrage was shared, retweeted & reposted.

Social media is powerful, one voice can be powerful, your voice can be powerful.

I’m writing this in hopes that it spurs some thought in a few people.

What are you using your social media profile for? Does it look something like this?

Facebook: OMG, just had a great dinner ‘selfie’…

Twitter: Can you believe that this happened today in sports

Instagram: Check out this picture of my car


Or are you using it to change the world?

Make your voice heard.


– JB

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Two sides to Cleveland

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There’s another side to Cleveland. It doesn’t involve the Cavs or the RNC. There’s no flashy Michael Simon restaurants or yoga studios. It’s a place where people struggle to survive, where engaging in crime is the only employment prospect & where individuals are exploited without consideration for their humanity. It’s a Cleveland away from the popular narrative, a side of a city that few want to acknowledge, let alone be a part of.

Today at the pop-up I was working with a client. He’s been locked up for half his life—lived about 6 blocks from where I do. If we were closer to the same age, we’d probably have been friends growing up. I was helping him get through a resume; he’d never had one. We got to the past employment portion & he looked up at me and said; “the only job I’ve ever had was in prison”— he was a dishwasher inside a federal penitentiary.

I did the best that I could, helping him build a resume & cover letter. I showed him how to apply online for jobs but could tell that our short time together would do very little to keep him out of the prison pipeline in the future. Crime was the only way he knew how to earn a living, the only place that he could earn a living. What business will give a convicted felon with no employment history a chance?

The two sides of Cleveland are always troubling to me. I’ve been in opulent neighborhoods where housekeepers and nannies fawn over trust-fund babies, and homeless encampments where our citizens, our sisters & brothers, are living in makeshift tents. Neither knows that the other exist, even though they’re just miles apart.

It’s easy for the well-educated masses to condemn the socioeconomically disadvantaged holding to the adage that “if they just worked harder, they could get a job”. That’s rarely, if ever, the case. The affluent say that because they’ve never sat in a room with the generationally poor, people without cars to travel to the jobs, people who struggle for their next meal, people who engage in crime to feed their children. The affluent, the well educated don’t understand the privilege that they’ve been given, the advanced initial starting point that they have in order to thrive.

Like I said, the gentleman I was working with today was brought up about 6 blocks from me. Our positions could have easily been reversed; me spending decades in lockup, being a member of a violent street gang, him with the PhD and endless opportunity.

If you’re reading this, and I really hope that you are, don’t hope for a better future. Hope is cheap and wishing is for fairytales; if you want change, it requires actual physical work and long-term dedication. Locking people up doesn’t create a better world but building community does.

– JB

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We can do better.

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His first time out of Cleveland was to go to prison:

Sometimes in life, you meet the most extraordinary people in the most damaging circumstances; I’ve met angels in the slums and demons in the church pews. I’ve seen mothers cut off the limbs of their children to make better beggars, and I’ve seen fathers starve themselves so that their children could eat. The world is a magnificently horrible, amazing place. Rarely do things get to me anymore but yesterday, I sat and heard a phrase that is hanging over me: “my first time out of Cleveland was to go to prison”.

We as Cleveland are celebrating our rebirth; we’re no longer the mistake on the lake. Over the past few years, we have become a destination, a restaurateurs paradise, the chosen land for the Republican National Convention. We’re planning new high-rise apartment buildings, hosting successful festivals, becoming the location of choice to film movies.

But, we can do better.

For all the advances that are being made in Cleveland, they are very local-centric; just occurring in high-end, gentrified neighborhoods. While I understand that money propagates money, the elevator has to go both ways. People who have become successful, become wealthy, have the responsibility to press the down button so as to help others do the same.

Upon leaving a secured facility recently, I had a CSI Miami moment. I was walking out and someone asked me “what do you do exactly”. I’ve been known to wear dark sunglasses, because, let’s be honest, they’re pretty cool. I looked at the inquisitor, removed my glasses and replied, “I leverage white, middle-class privilege and higher education to help the exploited and oppressed”; I put on my sunglasses and kept on walking. It was one of those exits that come around only once in a lifetime. It was, for lack of a better term, totally boss; I only wish that I had theme music cued up.

We as Clevelanders can do better for our communities. We can build the elevator higher and higher but we can’t forget to return that elevator to the ground floor; it’s the ground, the streets that need the most attention.

Now I’m not saying, hey wealthy suburbanites, come in & save the inner city. I’m sick of the white savior complex; it needs to go away. I’m saying we need to invest in our city, not to impress, but for success. We need to end food deserts, where our residents don’t have access to clean and nutritious food. Let’s put a Whole Foods, or even a local grocer in the middle of East Cleveland; it could be profitable. Let’s empower urban residents by increasing guaranteed small-business loans to rebuild the cities infrastructure and hire the at-risk population. Let’s  sentence juveniles not to prison, but to education. I believe that Cleveland State University coupled with local school districts could easily construct an education program in conjunction with juvie so that our young urban men and women are exposed to a classroom as much, or even more, than a prison cell.

We have one of the highest educated populations per capita in the country. We just need to combine those damn, overpriced brainpans to figure out the solutions, and then implement them in conjunction with, not for, our urban residents.

We can do better.

Our city is intentionally divided along racial and economic lines and this inequality physically manifests itself through domestic human rights violations; human trafficking, domestic child soldiers, lack of food and clean water, lack of education, disproportionate minority confinement etc.

We can do better.

My friend and co-TEDx presenter Basheer Jones used his time on the stage to say that children, living one mile from Lake Erie, have never seen it.

We can do better.

I spent time with a young man. The first time he left his neighborhood, left Cleveland was to go to prison.

We can do better.

– JB

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Food helps heal.

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One cannot be intimidating while holding pudding and eating chocolate chip cookies…

“This is the creamiest macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had” said the 6’6” 500 lb, bald, bearded, heavily tattooed, convicted felon: “Thank you so much for bringing it”.  He was a gentle giant who wanted to make a better life for himself on the outside. On the street, he would be intimidating, but here, at the pop-up, he had a pudding cup in one hand, two cookies in his mouth and a drizzle of cheese on his mustache.

Our pop-up deals with career services, it’s not a perfect model (yet) but it’s a crash course of resume writing, cover letters, professional clothing, and job applications for our clientele. We do as much as possible in as short of time as possible with as little money as possible. The pop-ups are an experiment based on ending the cycle of human trafficking and exploitation. The general public likes to think that trafficking can happen to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, but that’s not accurate. Trafficking occurs within very specific parameters to a very select group of individuals. Trafficking often starts with economic desperation from both the trafficker and victim/survivor.

 Ok, enough of that research & human rights stuff, this blog entry is about food…

When I was a kid, I used to love going over my grandmother (Mema’s) house because she always had something to eat. It wasn’t always the best food, but it was awesome because I got to eat it with my Mema.  We would eat, and talk, and laugh, and watch television and when I left her house it felt like everything was good; I felt good, I felt whole and I knew that somebody cared about me.

The biggest part of our services (in my own personal opinion) is the food—greasy, creamy, stick-to-your-bones food. The type of food that you know you’re not supposed to be eating, but it’s oh sooo good… This months pop-up (yesterday) we had macaroni & cheese, spaghetti, pizza, wings, chili, chips, cookies, oranges, jello & pudding & a whole table of assorted other stuff.

At first, the clients always try to act professional, looking at the food, grazing, but not really eating. After all, we’ve been habituated our entire lives that food and work don’t go together. Our amazing and dedicated volunteer staff always stop that real quick “go get some food & let’s hang out”. It’s the most commonly heard phrase every time someone walks in. At the first plate, our clients are a little skittish, just getting to know us. By the 3rd or 4th plate, we’re best friends, laughing and eating, and working towards a better future. It’s like Mema’s kitchen, but with the expressed purpose to end the cycle of human rights violations.

I love our pop-ups; I love the volunteers (who have quickly become like family) and the clients. It’s the best part of my month. I love laughing and eating and helping our people to feel good again, to feel whole, just like my Mema taught me.

Food helps heal, and we go through a whole bunch of it. If you’re ever into helping out, and are in Cleveland, we would love to enlist your culinary abilities. Shoot me an e-mail Jesse


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The answer is no.

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Let me clarify our organizational position on something:

Don’t ever ask us if you can have a survivor speak at your function.

Our answer will be no.

Don’t ever say “but I’m sure we can get you a bunch more donations if our people can hear a survivor speak”

Our answer will still be no.

Don’t ever respond with “but if the audience can hear about the abuse, and the horrible situations that person has gone through, they could really relate more”

Our answer will yet again, be no.

You can beg, you can plead, you can curse us. We will never ask one of our clients, one of our friends, to stand alone in front of an audience and entertain them with stories of “the life”.

Why do you need to hear a survivor speak? Is it for them, or is it for you? Is it so you can put up a great FB post “wow, just heard an amazing survivor story, so sad, how do people do that to each other”.  Because for you, it’s an interesting evening. For them, it’s reliving their lives, experiencing the triggers, putting themselves out there in front of an uncertain & uncaring world.

Here’s a better option, because we as an organization, as a movement, have no time for hashtag activism, fair-weather friends or armchair quarterbacks: Get off your duff & actually do something.

Donate, fundraise, volunteer, help.

If you really want to hear a survivor speak, help them develop their voice, one-on-one. There are a number of programs to do it, ours included. Help them get a job, get their kid back, get their felonies expunged, cover up their tattoo’s, find a place to live, write a resume, pick out clothing. It’s dirty, it’s gritty, it’s hours & hours of boredom combined with minutes of sheer terror. It’s real & it doesn’t make for a good FB status update (partially because most orgs won’t let you post about it on FB).

Survivors are special. They’ve gone through shit that would have killed a normal person. They’re not to be gawked at, not to be referred to as “sex slaves”, not to be put on a stage for FB status updates. They are people, they are survivors & more than anything they just want a chance at a normal life with the same opportunities that everyone else has.

So go ahead & ask if you can have a survivor speak. We will say no & then we will walk away… sometimes we will laugh as we do it :-)

– JB

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So… what’s your deal?

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At a recent talk, I was asked a magnificent question by a young woman who had just learned about human trafficking. She stated, “So… what’s your deal?” It was such an excellent question, it warranted it’s own blog entry.

So here’s our deal:

We’re not anti-sex, we’re pro-consent

We’re not anti-consumerism, we’re pro-ethical spending

We’re not a political organization.

We’re not a religious organization.

We’re a human organization.

We are The Imagine Foundation & if you’re reading this, you’re an integral part of our work. The simple fact of the matter is that people are being bought & sold, they’re being abused & exploited. There are questions regarding the breadth & depth of the situation as well as some of the semantics. But human trafficking is an unfortunate fact of our neighborhoods, our economy & our life. At The Imagine Foundation, we’ve agreed to no longer be passive witnesses of the problems around us, but rather, to take action to build a more free world.

At one of our training seminars one of our trainees summed it up perfectly: “So you guy’s are like the ninja turtles of the anti-trafficking world. People may have never heard of you, but you’re always there in the background ”.

So, that’s our deal. We’re anti-trafficking ninja turtles.

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Why I won’t try to see Jennifer Lawrence’s stolen nudes—A dude’s perspective.

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On the outside, I am a 6’ tall, 350lb bald, pierced, tattooed, bearded—bear of a man. On the inside though, I am a little 5th grade boy who still laughs at burps, farts & whenever somebody says boobies.

This morning on the news I heard that someone from 4-chan hacked into Jennifer Lawrence’s computer & stole some personal nudes that she had on there. For a split second the 5th grader inside of me giggled with delight. Then the adult me stepped up & got ticked off.

So let’s hash it out here:

Jennifer Lawrence is not property. She is not a commodity, she is not a way to make money. Jennifer Lawrence is not a female existing in a male world, she is a human existing in a human world. Even if she has an amazing physique, that is no excuse for people to oogle over it and see only the person on the outside.

Jennifer Lawrence has the right to take all the photographs she wants, clothed, unclothed, and even dressed as a cowgirl riding a sloth. She also has the right to dictate which photographs are for the general public, and which are private. So don’t even think for a minute of saying “she took nudie pics, she deserves to have them out there” because that my friend, is rape culture plain & simple.


Consent is a magical thing & attractiveness or celebrity, or sobriety, or length of skirt in no way influences or alters consent, ever!

Jennifer Lawrence did not consent to have her private pictures stolen or released; it is not a scandal, it is a crime! The coward from 4-chan stole them, & released them because he saw Ms. Lawrence as property, as belonging to the public & to him. She does not. Ms. Lawrence belongs only to herself & she gets to dictate her life.

So even though I think that Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actress and a beautiful, intelligent and wonderfully sarcastic woman, I, AS A DUDE, WILL NOT ATTEMPT TO SEE HER NAKED!


I’m hoping that many other people join me & say NO. Because it’s contributing to rape culture, it’s contributing to the exploitation of women & we as humans are bigger than that.

Ms Lawrence, I am sorry a coward stole your private photos & released them. I am even more sorry that our society accepts it.

– JB

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Why do you want to help someone like me?


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There are three types of people in the world: those who take, those who give, and those who remain indifferent. The third type is without question the most devastating & I fear that they are making up an ever increasing portion of our amazing world.

I had the honor of meeting a new survivor recently; I am looking forward to working with her. She thinks that she’s a victim right now & I can understand that viewpoint. For much of her life she was viewed & treated as property, nothing more than a commodity to be bought & sold.  She is more powerful than she realizes though. Think about it for a second, she survived situations that would kill a normal person. She lived through beatings, abuse, drugs, arrests and all the rest of the crap that life could throw at her; but she is beginning the long road to starting a new path.

She asked me a question though & it’s really resonated with me over the last few days. She wanted to know why someone like me wanted to help someone like her. At first I was a bit taken aback, but the more I sit with it, the more pissed off I get.

It’s really important to note that I’m not pissed off at her, not in the least. I’m pissed off at the rest of us. I can’t even comprehend a world where a young lady who has been repeatedly victimized would even question why people would help. It’s common human decency, it’s what we are meant to do, and it’s how we as a human civilization have to exist.

As I stated earlier, I look forward to working with her. The road will be long, and there will be stumbling blocks, and difficulties. But in the end, she’ll get to where she wants to be. Free.

– JB

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I promised.

I normally don’t write from an emotional standpoint. I find feelings troublesome in this line of work. Sometimes though there’s a trigger & long past experiences start bubbling up.

I just watched Sia’s Chandelier video. It triggered some long suppressed memories.

Years ago I met a female reporter/author overseas. She wanted to learn more about sex trafficking. I told her that I would show her where kids were being bought and sold but only if she agreed to run if things went south and never turn back. I would protect her.

The brothel was at the end of a street. It was hot, muggy, and dirty. It was advertised as a “dance” club, & in the front it was. In the back though, it wasn’t. I amazed the girls there; I was white, huge & incredibly rich (in their eyes at least). The bouncers, security & club owners we’re intimidated by me. I was at least a foot taller than them, and at least 200lbs heavier. I ordered a beer. The reporter was nervous.

The thing about brothels isn’t the sight, or the feel. It’s not the stickiness when you sit down, or the lights. It’s the smell. At first it’s hard to place, a mixture of many different things. I can smell it right now as I write this. It took years for me to identify. It’s the smell of tears and condoms, salty plastic, blood and urine. It’s nauseating. It’s horrifying. It permeates my being; I can’t get it out of my nose. Every once it a while it’s triggered, it comes back, it’s on me & I can’t shake it. I guess that’s why I’m writing this right now; to try to get rid of it.

Sia’s video was the trigger, actually the stain on the floor of her video was the trigger. It looks like this place smelled.

The owner sent an adult female over to talk to me. I can only assume she was an adult; she looked about 17-ish. She put her hand on my leg & asked if I liked her. I told her that I was just there for the beer. The reporter was starting to panic, her eyes were wide. The girl leaned in & said if I didn’t like her that there were much younger in the back. She gestured towards a door where streams of sweaty men were exiting. The smell was stifling.

We left right after that. I could tell by looking in the reporters eyes that things had just gotten very real for her.

I was unable to do anything for those children that day.

I hate traffickers with every fiber of my being. I wanted to go back & rip them apart. I could have, it would have been nothing. They couldn’t have stopped me. I was able to chat with a friend back home that evening. He was able to talk me down.

I promised myself that day that I wouldn’t kill them; that wouldn’t solve anything. I would instead spend every waking moment of my existence working to destroy their way of life. I would learn how to break the system.

I promised.

– JB

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An amazing conversation


















I recently had an amazing conversation with a stripper (her description of her job, not mine). She was in her early 20’s, heavily tattooed and one of the nicest people I have ever had the opportunity to speak with. She wanted to know what she could do to help end human trafficking.

It was a very cool moment.

Now you’re probably thinking that I tried to convince her to leave stripping, or to make impassioned speeches to others, or to completely change everything about herself. If you thought any of those things you’d be wrong.

I adhere to a strict code of “judge not yet ye be judged”. I do prefer if people leave the commercial sex industry, not because of the moral or ethical conundrum, but because it represents limited opportunity. You see, basing ones income on attractiveness is not a wise move as good looks are a depreciable commodity. In time, appearance decreases exponentially, therefore it is a poor choice to earn a living with and puts one at-risk for sex trafficking. Basing ones income on knowledge however represents an appreciable commodity as intelligence rarely decreases over time… I digress…

Her life experience and circumstance puts her in a very unique situation to work with others who are at-risk for sex trafficking. Think about it, who better to work with and understand sex workers and the victim/survivor, than someone who has lived it and worked it.

I told her that when she was ready, to track me down & I would find a place for her in The Imagine Foundation. I would love to work with her to emulate the work of Ink 180 (Learn about them here); they are a tattoo shop specializing in removing gang tattoos and the brands of sex trafficking victim/survivor (I also got a super sweet new tattoo with them).

I guess the whole moral of this blog entry is that the people who are going to end human trafficking aren’t necessarily the suburban, educated and well-adjusted people of the world. Sometimes they’re just a 20-year-old exotic dancer who wants to make a difference.

So, what are you doing to build a more free world?


– JB

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Breaking the system












I just spent the last 32 hours on my laptop, typing chapter 3 of my dissertation on sex trafficking. Just a forewarning, I want to smash my computer into tiny pieces then take those pieces and smash them into slightly smaller pieces. All I can think about is breaking technology (like the guys from Office Space), so this blog entry comes from a bit of a weird place…

Recently somebody pretty much insulted my life’s work & stated “human trafficking has always happened, and will always happen”. I politely stated that I disagreed (even though privately I wanted to punch him in the nostril) and kept on walking in the opposite direction.

I do honestly disagree & here’s why: I’m really, really good at breaking things.

Honestly, I haven’t lost it; bear with me.

I have broken no less than 5 motorcycles, 4 cars, chairs, tables, dishes, a waffle maker, a ton of bones, a television (fell out the window), multiple windows, an elephant, dozens of pairs of pants and a quite a bit of weight lifting equipment. I’m good at it!

The people who are closest to me will often hear a crashing sound followed up by a loud and disingenuous “oops”… breaking stuff is what Jesse’s do best.

Now let’s look at human trafficking, it’s a system—no different than anything else & it can be broken. If we break the system, HT ends. All we have to do is figure out how to do it. I know that might sound confusing, but it’s the one, singular idea I’ve spent the last 4 years on (earning my PhD.) We just have to figure out how to break the system & then make sure it is never rebuilt. If we can do that, we’ve altered the course of human destiny (no pressure, huh?).

So how do we break the system? Simple, figure out its weak points and then direct the full force of every human rights advocates towards those points. It’s like toppling a little kids game of Jenga (I’m not proud) figure out where it’s weakest & remove the supporting structures. So far in my research I’ve found a few of the weak points but in no way all of them. Lots more work to do.

Here’s to many, many more 32-hour marathon sessions on my laptop… as long as I don’t break it.


If you have ideas on how to break the system, let me know

– JB

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Hunger Games & Human Rights

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Ahh… the demand of human trafficking; that’s a rough one. Sure, we like to think that someone else is responsible, some un-named other, some bad guy, someone who sits in a dimly lit room, brooding over ways to take over the world; but we’d be wrong. We, the normal, the hideously average, we are responsible for human trafficking. As much as it hurts to think about, its us.

Lets have a bit of imaginarium here, you’ve watched/read The Hunger Games right? I love that mischievous scamp Katniss, not just because she’s amazing with the bow & quick-witted with the put-downs, but because she really puts domestic human rights abuses in perspective.  When you read/watched her life, in her universe, who did you side with? I bet if you’re like me, you sided with Katniss & friends, you saw the poor town, saw the oppression & you related to it. I bet at one point you even thought “man, I’m just like her, everyone is always trying to keep me down”. You probably related to the government oppression, the abuse etc. I bet you thought that you were like Katniss huh?

Then you saw the opulence of the capital, how clueless people were, gallivanting around in their expensive clothes, throwing away food, flaunting their good-fortune, and really using the people from the districts as a commodity, a means to an end, rather than viewing them as human beings.

I bet you identified with Katniss, but if you’re reading this we’re (myself included) more like the people in the capital. We’re often clueless, we use people, we view them as commodities, and we’re the reason that human trafficking and the majority of human rights violations occur. It’s rough to handle, to go from feeling like you’re the oppressed, to realizing that you’re the oppressor. I’ve had numerous people flip out on me & tear me apart because of it (don’t shoot the messenger)

Human trafficking occurs because of demand. It is a crime of economics and human rights violations. If there was no demand, there would be no supply.

So where does demand come from?

Us, the global consumers of the world!

We demand inexpensive commodities; manufacturers are more than willing to provide us with that. If things can’t be made cheaply enough, off shore it where people can be freely exploited and few say anything about it. Don’t even think about justifying exploitation by saying “we’re helping them out”, Nike sells shoes for hundreds, how much of that goes to the teenager assembling them?

We demand inexpensive and exotic food: growers are more than willing to provide us with that. For domestic food, we can import & exploit workers, for exotic food, we can exploit them in their lands.

We demand cheap, meaningless, sex: traffickers are more than willing to provide us with that. If you want to spend $300 an hour to sleep with a kid, you better believe that there is someone willing to come up with that kid.

It’s rough to think about, that we, the fairly affluent are responsible for travesties because of our consumer tendencies. But, unfortunately we are.

So how do you reduce demand? We’ll, you’re going to have to decide if the human factor is more valuable than your everyday luxuries. Can you live with ethical shoes? Can you pay a bit more for ethical chocolate? Are you able to control yourself & not buy commercial sex?

It’s a rough question, are you willing to give up a bit of your comfort for someone else. I know some people are, some aren’t.


Look what happened in The Hunger Games when the oppressed finally realized that the capital was living fat off of the districts…

Food for thought

– JB

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Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 12.28.12 PMSurvivor… that is one powerful word. Think about it for a second. The word survivor means that you made it through something that should have killed you. You should be dead right now but you’re not. You’re here. You persevered. You made it. You’re a survivor. Sure, you might be a little worse for wear, you might be scarred up, dragged through the mud, tired, hungry, scared, confused; but dammit you’re alive & that’s something that you can work with.

Survivors of anything are special because they’re alive.

Do not ever, ever call a survivor a victim.

A survivor isn’t a victim, they’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming such adverse situations that it would make Johnny & Suzie Normal lose control of their bowels. A survivor has been on the lone path to eternity and has smacked life in the face & said no! I go on my terms! A survivor has made it through to the other side.

Survivors deserve respect. 

– JB

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Remember Dr. Martin luther King jr.

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Dr. Martin Luther King jr. was not just a man; he represented an idea. Ideas cannot be killed with bullets, ideas can’t bleed. They live on forever in the memories of those who follow. Ideas only die if they are forgotten, if they are left to wither.

Although Dr. King is most remembered for his work regarding race relations, his greatest efforts went towards equality, freedom and economic stability for the average person. Today is his day. As school children, we’ve been taught about his life & his death but very few of us have ever learned about his actual work. Dr. King lived his life as an idea, an example. He believed in what he could do for humanity above and beyond his own life. He knew that he would never get to see the Promised Land but he knew that his existence could be part of the foundation for future generations.

Every MLK day I am saddened, because so many of us have allowed Dr. King’s work to fall by the wayside. We have forgotten what he stood for by relegating his memory to only one day of the year. His story should not just be for some day in January.

Dr. King did not give his life to get children out of school, or have free museum admittance. Dr. King did not allow himself to be jailed to have streets or statues erected in his honor. Dr. King did not remove burnt crosses from his front yard so that news stations and radio stations would recite the I Have A Dream Speech once a year. Dr. King did not stand in the face of tyranny and oppression to have his life’s work cast aside!

Dr. King gave his life to build a more free world.

If Dr. King were alive today, he would be angered that we have allowed his work to fall into disrepair. We have allowed ourselves to profit at the expense of our brothers and sisters. We cater to the strong and the rich in our society while ignoring the poor and the weak. Our elected officials look at their constituency as a means to an end, and the people we look to for honesty and service give us anything but that.

Dr. King’s legacy has been corrupted as he is far too often just remembered as only a strong leader in the black community, as a leader who worked only for positive race relations. Dr. King needs to be remembered as a strong leader in the human community, as someone who stood for peace, and freedom and equality for all people. Dr. King needs to be remembered for the controversial work he did in life as much as he is for his violent and untimely death.

Dr. King’s life needs to inspire generations of peaceful revolutionaries, the ones who will see past the story of his legacy and into what his legend actually represents. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read I have a Dream, and you may have even read the letters from Birmingham but take a moment and read what he was killed for. Read and listen to his last speech.

This is the Dr. Martin Luther King jr. we need to know. This is the peaceful revolutionary. This is the friend, I never had the honor to meet.

I have been to the mountaintop via American Rhetoric

I have been to the mountaintop via YouTube. 

The cry is always the same. “We want to be free”.


– JB

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The most precious gift of all.



I will not be going shopping today, or tomorrow, or even the day after. In fact, besides gas for my car and food to eat, I hope to not buy anything for the next thirty days; its just stuff. If you really want to show someone how much they mean to you don’t give them some stupid present; some piece of disposable garbage that will get shelved 24 hours after its receipt, spend time with them. Look at it like this, money is replaceable, most of us get more of it every two weeks. Time though, time is precious and you only get that moment once in your life. Sure, someone will argue with me and say that old adage that “time is money” and by spending money on someone ergo facto you are spending time, but I say a big EFF That!

I’ve lost people in my life, and I would give all the money I have ever earned, I would give all of my possessions for the opportunity to eat just one meal with them; to be able to hear their stories, to laugh at their jokes, to make eye contact and smile. I would give up everything to spend time with them. Would you?

We’ve screwed up the whole gift-giving thing. The act of giving presents isn’t about the actual commodity, the act of giving presents was originally an excuse to get everyone together and spend time with one another. That message has somehow got lost. It’s no longer about the people; it’s about the presents. In my small group of friends (I have 3), we do in fact exchange presents. They are usually stupid, embarrassing presents involving t-shirts with a fighter-pilot eagle on it, or a ninja costume. The point of our gift giving isn’t about the gift though, it’s to humiliate each other and laugh. It’s about spending quality time together.

So the point of this blog is to convince you to reframe your ideas, rethink what the point of giving presents is all about. While you’re focusing on getting that perfect gift for someone, reconsider your stance. What do they really want? Is it a plane ticket home to see their family for the holidays? Is it a dinner where all of you can re-cap old stories. Is it just a moment where they can look into your eyes and smile? Is it the gift of time?

Gifts are cheap and quickly forgotten; time is precious and will last forever.

Spend wisely.


–       JB

P.s. this holiday season I’m going to be writing a lot about fair trade, refurbished, locally produced, recycled, upcycled and all of the other wise spending choices. If you don’t like that kind of stuff, too bad… it’s my blog.




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Happy Thanksgiving.

We will not live to see the Promised Land, but does that mean that we shouldn’t try?

The day will come in human history when all beings will get to live happy & free. Unfortunately that day is not today, but it will eventually happen; it’s a mathematical certainty. You see, in a chaotic system such as life, small disturbances magnify exponentially and in turn the system will follow or fail. There are millions of people around the world working for peace, love and freedom on a daily basis; these people are the small disturbance, and they are permanently altering the system.

Even the smallest stone causes waves in the largest ocean.

Everyday on this earth is an amazing experience and as we’re inundated with negative news and stories, we sometimes miss the small miracles that are around us. I’ll be the first to admit that the world has problems, and that there are some horrible people in our midst; people who use people and love things when it is supposed to be the other way around. The beautiful thing about our lives though is we come with an expiration date. Every few generations, our species gets to reinvent itself & we’re slowly and begrudgingly headed in the right direction.

This is the season of Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for the path I have been put on. I never expected to be here, and at times I’m horrified at this work; but I’m thankful to be able to do it. I’m thankful for my family, and friends. I’m thankful for the team that is helping me to demolish cancer and I’m thankful for the people that I am given the opportunity to serve. I’m thankful to be here and to be able to do what I can to help us get where it is that we’re going.

Don’t let Thanksgiving end with today though. If you’re reading this, you’re doing so for a reason (more of that mathematical certainty stuff). I mean think about it, of all the ways that you could be spending this moment right here & now, a moment that you will never get back and will never occur again in space/time, you’re reading the ramblings of a fluffy (but incredibly handsome) feminist/biker/teacher/dude. Why are you here reading this?

Sure, you can pass it off as coincidence; but I don’t think so. I think you’re here for a reason, and I think that you know it too. So what are you going to do about it?

Be thankful, stop whining & kick some ass to make the world a better place.



Happy Thanksgiving IMG_0009

–       JB


P.S. if you’re curious and want to see what we’re all about and where you fit in, shoot me an e-mail jesse@

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Ethical choices.



Being responsible is a massive pain in the ace…


It’s currently fall in Cleveland, which means yesterday it was 75 and sunny; today it’s 35 and raining. I don’t have anything warm to wear and my new hoodie hasn’t arrived yet. To give you a little background, I order one hoodie a year. It’s black, 4xl and made by Dickies. I buy one every year, wear it daily until it gets warm enough to not wear it and by that time it is a tattered, worn piece of garbage. I buy this exact hoodie every year because it fits, it lasts, it is relatively inexpensive & Dickies is compliant with the California Transparency in Supply Chains act meaning that I can be relatively sure that no kids were forced to make my stuff.

As I said, my hoodie for this year hasn’t arrived yet and I’m currently in my favorite coffee shop writing this and shivering my ample posterior off…

This is no fault of Dickies, I ordered it yesterday… I could easily go to the store & buy another brand, but the thought of some kid being forced to work on the other side of the world is too much for me to handle anymore. I will only buy clothes made by responsible manufacturers.

I decided a while back that I would do my best to live as an example, admittedly its a huge pain but last night, for one person I saw that they understood.

I was in a think tank meeting for The Cleveland Freedom Center, a live-in human trafficking treatment center that meets three distinct precepts. The center has to be completely ethical, economically sustainable, and repeatable. The ethical part is the most difficult, because we can do no harm to any human or animal in anything we do (from the food we eat, to the products we buy).

One of our think tank members, a newly retired, old-school business man didn’t understand the need for ethical behavior on our part. After all, in the business world the ends often justify the means.

I listened as one of our think tank members, relayed perfectly the need for global ethical behavior to the old-school business man. She said that we can’t do whats right by doing whats wrong, that helping one person can not harm another.

I have never been so proud, to hear the words & ideas I’ve worked for so many years to relay, come out of someone else’s mouth. Our think tank member constructed her argument perfectly and concisely. It took her about ten minutes to tell the old guard about why we had to do our work this way.

After the lesson in ethical justification, the old-schooler walked me to my car and said “well, I guess there is some hope for this world after all”. I looked & responded  “thanks Dad, see you next week”…

We have to always remember that our planet, a small blue spinning marble is tied together in an immense system of interconnectedness. Every action elicits a reaction in our tiny-big world.

Violence won’t ever end violence, hurting someone won’t ever bring and end to pain, acting unethically won’t ever bring about a free world.

Do something every day to make the world a better place.

– JB





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Own the failure

I have attended the funerals of murdered students, and have watched the young dragged away in handcuffs. I’ve mourned with families of children who have killed themselves and have found kids being bought and sold like slabs of meat.

I fail constantly.

All too often we are quick to share our successes and just as rapidly discount our failures.

Like I said, I fail constantly.

Our failures make us who we are, they shape us and they teach us, and we can’t remove ourselves from them or forget them. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. Screwing up hurts, and is devastating, and it’s unavoidable.

So we face a choice do we forget and remove ourselves from our mistakes or do we own the hell out of them, learn, and try to never repeat? It’s a rough question and an even rougher answer.

To own your mistakes, you’ve got to confront who you really are. Let’s clear this up right now; you are not your possessions, you are not your income, you are not your employment position, you are not your facebook profile, you are not the face you put on in front of others. You are a living, breathing, soulful, conscious bag of meat. You are the culmination of a near infinite number of variables interacting with each other throughout time, you are made of the same bits and pieces that make up stars and planets and if you are so inclined, you are an afterthought of a supreme creator. You are you. Deep down inside of you is who you really are, removed of the makeup, and the distractions, the music and the economy and inside of you, is a small, quiet, nearly unrecognizable person quietly milling around and waiting to come out.

So why am I writing about this? Failure after all isn’t something we like to talk about. We prefer to talk about successes, happiness, and brag about our accomplishments.

IMG_0040Failure is an extremely important part of the learning process.

Right now we as a people are failing our brothers and sisters. We say we care about the well being of others as we walk by the homeless veteran on the street. We say we care about human rights as we purchase products that support oppressive regimes. We say we care, but we fail when it comes to caring. We are failing. Now here is where most people will begin to cop an attitude “I’m not failing, I don’t hurt anyone”… Wrong. Our very existence and Western way of life is built upon a model of oppression, we depend on it, we profit from it and we can’t even see its effects any longer. Even if we think we aren’t doing harm, we are.

Thinking we’re not doing harm, and not doing harm are two totally different things.

Our current failings however, aren’t all bad though; we have figured out how not to do things. Failing and being a failure are two totally different things.

It’s only a failure if we give up.

The world is changing, and owning our failures is a big part of it. We as a people need to admit that our current way of life is not ethical or sustainable. We have to own that failure and revise the system to make it better. We need to teach future generations about our failures so that they can continue to make the world a better place.

Someday the world will only know of atrocities through history books. That day unfortunately isn’t today.

Own your failure, learn from it and teach others to avoid it.


Build a free world.


– JB

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Will you build a free world?

IMG_0010Forget Cancer. I haven’t been able to write lately because of doctors appts & people asking in a gentle voice if I’m ok. If you know of someone who is sick, don’t precede every conversation with a gentle “How are you doing”… it’s insulting. So let’s get this out there. I’ve got cancer, it’s not cured yet and I’m going to have to go through more surgery, chemo blah blah blah… garbage. This simple fact does not remove me from my responsibilities or my passions. I’m back to work, back to the gym and back to living every breath to build a free world.

Now that I have that angry rant off of my chest, let us begin.

As of today there are more people in bondage than at any point in human history. They are just like you & I, but their ability to choose their destiny has been removed.

Now the only question that remains is what are you going to do about it?

Don’t look to the government, don’t look to law enforcement, don’t look to the church. I have directed the question at you. What are YOU going to do about it?

Ignoring the problem is easy, forgetting about these people is easy, continuing to live your life as you do is easy. Living to build a free world is hard.

What are you going to choose?

Choice is hard. Robert Frost wrote his quote about differing paths through a forest. It’s a classically misused quote about choices and choosing a unique existance. I prefer Morpheus (yes, the Matrix). “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

So what are you going to choose? I know it’s a confrontative question and I know it’s hard to answer but it is an answer that you will have to know if you are going to proceed on this path.

Are you ready to live everyday to build a free world? A world devoid of exploitation, a world of equality, a world of fairness and love?

You & I may never get to live there, our grandchildren may never get to experience it. But our lives can mean something. Our lives can be an example for future generations and we can lay the foundation for a human race that only knows of hardship through reading history books.

Live as an example & the rest will fall into place.

– JB


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