Addressing Racism in the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking of Black Girls: The Role of Public Health Critical Race Praxis
DMST Among Black Girls
Viewing DMST From a Race-Conscious Perspective
Using PHCRP to Address DMST
Table. Public Health Critical Race Praxis (PHCRP)a principles and focus areas applied to domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) among Black girls in the United States
|Principleb||Affiliated focus areab||Definitionb||Application to DMSTc|
|Conventional approach||PHCRP approach|
|Race consciousness||All||Deep awareness of one's racial position and awareness of racial stratification processes operating in colorblind contexts||“Colorblind” perspective that ignores the role of race and racism in contributing to Black girls' vulnerability to DMST||Identify and challenge personal, institutional, and societal racial biases and how they influence research, practice, and policymaking (eg, Black girls do not fit the purview of DMST victims)|
|Primacy of racialization||Contemporary racialization||The fundamental contribution of racial stratification to societal problems; the central focus of Critical Race Theory scholarship on explaining racial phenomena||Practices based on the notion that DMST is a consequence of primarily economic conditions||Design and evaluate DMST responses with the explicit goal to address racial inequities|
|Race as a social construct||Contemporary racialization; conceptualization and measurement||Significance that derives from social, political, and historical forces||Biological determinism—the belief that race is based on one's biology (eg, Black girls are physiologically ready for sex at younger ages than non-Black girls or Black girls are biologically prone to violence)||Recognize that Black girls are not at risk of DMST because of their race, but because of a racialized social order that places Black girls at the margins of society and increased vulnerability to DMST|
|Ordinariness of racism||Contemporary racialization||Racism is embedded in the social fabric of society||Racism is rarely considered when examining DMST vulnerability||Incorporate an antiracist lens by acknowledging that Black girls are chronically racialized and experience racism in the context of DMST (eg, history of exoticism of Black female bodies including the oversexualization of Black girls in contemporary media)|
|Structural determinism||Contemporary racialization||The fundamental role of macro-level forces in driving and sustaining inequities across time and contexts; the tendency of dominant group members and institutions to make decisions or take actions that preserve existing power hierarchies||Focus on individual-level factors such as trauma history or criminal record||Examine how institutional-level factors such as the criminalization of prostitution among adolescents perpetuates the cycle of violence and trauma for Black girls|
|Social construction of knowledge||Knowledge production||The claim that established knowledge within a discipline can be re-evaluated using antiracism modes of analysis||Belief that the status quo for addressing DMST is free from bias||Examine current DMST theoretical frameworks for the presence or absence of antiracism principles|
|Critical approaches||Knowledge production; action||To dig beneath the surface; to develop a comprehensive understanding of one's biases||DMST practices that adhere to a trauma-informed and colorblind approach||Investigate to what extent current DMST advocacy and practices address racial bias in distribution of services and resources (eg, Safe Harbor implementation and application)|
|Intersectionality||Conceptualization and measurement; action||The interlocking nature of co-occurring social categories (eg, race and gender) and the forms of social stratification that maintain them||DMST services designed to address a single-issue problem (eg, focusing on one aspect of an individual's lived experience)||Consider unique social location of individuals and how multiple oppressions regarding age, race, social class, gender identity, and sexual orientation are experienced by Black girls|
|Disciplinary self-critique||Action||The systematic examination by members of a discipline of its conventions and impacts on the broader society||Assuming current DMST approaches are sufficient to address racialized disparities in DMST||Reexamine framing within the field of who is deserving/undeserving of services and sympathy (eg, White girls as victims vs voluntary engagement in sex work among Black girls)|
|Voice||Knowledge production; action||Prioritizing the perspectives of marginalized people; privileging the experimental knowledge of outsiders within||Designing trafficking policies and services without input from those most affected||Seek the expertise of those with relevant lived experience to advise on all aspects of research, programs, and policies (eg, include Black DMST survivors in interpretation of findings, formulation of services)|
Another principle, critical approaches, challenges researchers and practitioners to move beyond the status quo of anti-trafficking efforts and to investigate how personal and institutional biases affect knowledge and knowledge production. An example of how critical approaches are applied in DMST can be seen in an article by Gerassi, in which the authors—a researcher, an organizer, and a practitioner—provide critical reflections on their discourses, assumptions, and actions, especially naming the unacknowledged bias that was occurring in an anti-trafficking task force in both leadership and service delivery.29
Conceptualization and Measurement
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
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