Washington DC: Our Missing Black Girls — Race and Human Trafficking?

Though is it not clear why 22 young Black and Hispanic girls and boys have recently gone missing in Washington DC, it is garnering grassroots activism. Monday a neighborhood meeting was held by local pastors and activists. A local town hall meeting occurred on Wednesday in DC where the community demanded to know what was going on.

The Metropolitan Police Department stated there are no facts or a modus operandi to support increased trends or anomalies in missing children, but many fear one possibility is an increase in human trafficking.

The increase in hate crimes after the election, continued focus on hot-button issues like immigration that disproportionately affect minority communities, the controversy of the travel ban disproportionately affecting Muslim and refugee communities, decreased federal support and funding of women and girls programs specifically focused on the prevention of violence against women, and federal funding for the support and protection of the LGBT community have been decreased or eliminated with #45 in office. This all signals the lack of concern around the protection of vulnerable communities, particularly individuals affected at the intersection of gender and race. Now, with the spike in young women of color missing, its perceived that finding these young girls has not become a priority either.

Women of color have long been victims of human trafficking in the United States, yet, many still see Eastern European or South Asian women and girls as the primary victims. This is further perpetrated by the perception that human trafficking is a small issue in the United States.

Human trafficking is a form of slavery that includes the transport or trade of people for the purpose of work. According to Soroptimist, a global volunteer organization committed to improving the lives of women and girls, human trafficking is a $32 billion dollar business. According to the UN, 2.5 million people are involved in human trafficking at any given time. Nearly 80% of human trafficking is for sex, and 19% is for labor. In 2014, the US Senate estimates that 200,000 to 300,000 minors are at risk, or are trafficked, annually from and within the United States. Many of those trafficked come from vulnerable communities with low socioeconomic status, are runaways, or have come from an abusive environment.

Though race is not always documented in trafficking cases, what we know is that race does play a discriminating role. According to the FBI, over half of minors that are arrested for prostitution in the US are Black. Prostitution is a direct link to human trafficking, particularly for minors and young women. Advocates have long stated that the role of race and racism in making children vulnerable to trafficking still has not been addressed. The larger concern identified by Cheryl Nelson Butler is that “the racialized sexual exploitation of people of color that developed during slavery and colonization impacts cultural expectations and beliefs about the availability and use of children of color for commercial sex today.”

According to a UCLA Law Review article by Butler, “the U.S Bureau of Justice Statistics determined that between 2008 and 2010, nonwhite children accounted for about 358 of 460 cases of human trafficking investigated by the Department of Justice, and a majority of these 358 confirmed victims were reported to be Black and Latino. Likewise, a 2013 National Juvenile Prostitution Study found that a disproportionate number of child trafficking victims were African Americans.” According to the 2013 National Crime Victims Rights Week Resource Guide, Black individuals represent 40% of human trafficking victims and 23.9% are Hispanic (graphics pictured are 2011 statistics). Inner cities and southern states see the highest numbers. Local prosecutors identify a disproportionate number of human trafficking victims as women of color in places like Texas, Georgia, and New York.

We need to advocate to lawmakers for better statistics on human trafficking regarding people of color and a more sensitive response from law enforcement when arresting minors for prostitution. Polaris, one of the leading organizations on human trafficking is working to increase policy legislation in support of victims, and create a development of standards with more data-sharing. Polaris also provides current statistics on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline and their BeFree Textline. If you, or someone you know, is a victim of human trafficking contact 1–888–373–7888; TTY: 711

Jessica Robinson, CEO of PurePoint International, is a cyber security consultant and security expert at the intersection of gender, race and vulnerable communities. You can reach her at jessica@purepoint-international.com.

Inauguration Day Protests — Your Updated Definitive Safety Guide to the Women’s March on Washington: 15 Tips You Need to Know

* Updates and additions to the original piece have been added to the end of this article.

Like many of you, I am thrilled to be attending the Women’s March on Washington as a show of solidarity that women’s voices, strength and essence of the divine feminine, can never be muted. I know many people felt discouraged after the Hilary Clinton election loss. This march is a way to show that even though the glass ceiling didn’t break and the country elected someone who many believe has publicly, and consistently, disrespected women, the commitment to inclusion is stronger than ever.

As a security consultant, I am frequently asked by parents how to keep their kids safe online, how to keep their daughters safe while away at college, or how to stay safe while protesting. I was recently ask how to keep teens attending the Women’s March on Washington safe. This article was written separately from the women’s march organizers and supports many of the questions I have received for those attending the march. There are many questions parents are asking: will one segment of the march keep you safer than another? What should they wear or bring?

Great news is the Women’s March leaders are collaborating with Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Hill Police, National Park Service, and Homeland Security.

Here are your safety tips for the Women’s March on Washington:

1. Location/Time: The updated rally time is (10am-1:15pm), and the full list of speakers have been announced. You will want to get there early, bring gloves, hats, layered clothing (to take off and put on as needed), and hand and toe warmers. The march will begin at 1:15.

2. Look at the map of the Capitol Hill lawn. Know where the closest metro stations (Capitol South Metro Station on the blue orange and silver line; Federal Center SW Station on the blue, orange and silver line), restaurants, banks (ATMs — or bring enough cash) are located. This will also assist with any bathroom breaks you may need. From my experience attending the first Obama inauguration, I imagine the Park Service will set up portable bathrooms. Just in case that doesn’t happen, you will want to review a map and know what options are available. This can easily be done by accessing Google Maps prior and during the march. You will also want to know where law enforcement officers are located and where are they standing around the park, so that if something happens you will know where to go in an emergency. I would suggest also keeping any valuables, large purses, and super expensive cameras at home. Be sure to check out other event details as well.

3. Is one location of the march safer than another part? My answer is no. The rally and march will begin at Independence Ave and Third Ave. Generally, in large crowds it’s safe to be on the sides for a quick exit if needed. Plan to have a meeting place if separated from your party in case an emergency occurs. Always pay attention to your surroundings; situational awareness is key. There may be barricades up allowing entry and exit from certain street locations for crowd control purposes, so if there is an active shooter, for example, the best thing to do is to remain calm, protect yourself behind an immovable object if possible, and leave the area immediately in the opposite direction.

4. How do I keep my teenager safe who is attending with friends? She should be with a group of people you know and trust. If you don’t know the friends she is going with, perhaps suggest everyone come over your house for dinner and have an “impromptu” review of safety tips. It doesn’t have to be dinner, just an opportunity for you to meet these friends. Get at least 1–2 of her friend’s phone number. Ask her to check in when she arrives to the march and to check in every 90 minutes. This should be easy by having a timer on her phone. Ask her to check in when she leaves and is safely in her transportation traveling back home.

5. Have a portable way to charge cell phones. If you are an Apple person, a mophi battery case would be a good option. If you have an android carry an extra charger. This is especially important if you plan to be out there all day. This is even more important for teens checking in with their parents throughout the morning.

6. In case something (assault, verbal argument) happens is there a way to make yourself less of a target? If an emergency erupts the best way to make yourself less of a target is to immediately walk away. Don’t run, just walk away quickly. Look for law enforcement and get out of the immediate general area. Additionally, make sure you don’t leave alone.

7. What do you do if you meet an agitator? As with many marches on Washington, or with many rallies or protests, there may be counter protests that occur. If this happens the most important thing is to be respectful. However, if an agitator were to come up to you, remain calm, keep far enough distance so that they don’t touch you, if they get too close ask them to step away. Say, “back up” in a firm voice. Ask for law enforcement support if needed.

8. General rules for staying safe while protesting: Don’t go alone. Travel in groups; I can’t stress this enough. First, it won’t be as much fun if you’re alone. Second, anything can happen — your phone battery can die, or you can fall and hurt yourself. These things will be much easier if you have someone by your side.

Be respectful with protest signs. Be mindful of signs being in people’s way and their visibility to see the stage. That could easily be an irritation that can evolve into a miscommunication.

One of the questions I’ve received frequently is how do I stay safe while protesting. If you happen to be in a position where things start to get out of hand, meaning people are pushing and shoving or someone produces a weapon, leave the area immediately. I’m sure there will be law enforcement all over the place. Be sure to keep your eye out for where they are and go up to them and let them know what is occurring. This will ensure the safety of everyone and will help to make sure that this march is a success.

9. What protest signs are appropriate? For the most part all protest signs will probably be appropriate. You do want to keep it upbeat and positive, something that can influence versus push people away. However, it’s up to the individual. I would say there’s probably aren’t too many restrictions here. If you’re going to bring a sign, sticking to the themes of what we’ve been hearing and talking about: reproductive rights, breaking the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, etc. I think you’ll be fine.

10. Social media safety: Just remember this is a march on Washington. Something many people will see as a political event whether you do or not. Only post pictures you would feel comfortable with everyone seeing. Be mindful of any pictures you wouldn’t want a boss or potential employer to see. This is important for your personal safety as well.

11. What if I am over 65 and I am attending the march? If you have attended many rallies before, especially in the 60s and 70s you will remember it can be exhausting. Be sure to bring all the medication you will need for the day. Bring enough warm clothes. Come with at least one friend; do not come alone. If you had any type of health condition be sure to wear your medical alert bracelet, or be sure to tell your friend so that he or she is aware.

12. What if I have a disability and I am attending the march? If you are attending the march and you have a disability I would stress that you should not attend alone, and that you carry something that lets people know what disability you have and indicates what medication that you’re taking. I’m sure that there may be a specific area for people with wheelchairs. For additional information, check out the official site for the Women’s March on Washington.

13. What is the best source of transportation to get to the march? To get to the march once you’re in DC the best source of transportation is the Metro. The Metro will open at 5am to accommodate the march. To get into DC you could always travel by car, however it’s possible that the 14th St. bridge into DC will be closed if you’re coming in on that day. So, the best bet if you’re driving is to try and come in the night before or have an alternate way to get into the city other than the 14th St. bridge. I’m sure taxis will also be available as well. Check road closures before driving in to the city, as well as Amtrak schedule accommodations.

14. Tips for handling mob mentality in emergency. Here are 5 tips for handling mob mentality when an emergency occurs.

15. Remember to leave weapons at home. Anything that could easily be used as a form of protection like mace or switchblades, could be viewed as weapon by law enforcement.

Also, don’t forget to check out this article — Woman’s March Washington: What You Need to Know


**Now that I am in Washington DC, I have been able to make some on the ground assessments. Here are a few safety updates in response to the protests from the Inauguration Day protests. Below of the updated Safety Guide with these additions includes!

1. With the protests from Inauguration Day there are expectations of more at than Women’s March as well as increase possibility of potential acts of violence. If you face counter protests, so not engage. If they get in your face, firmly ask them to “back up.” If the protestors get physically aggressive, leave the area immediately.

Also, expect the possibility of other movements protesting, that won’t directly relate to the Women’s March.

2. The Klu Klux Klan (KKK) is also in Washington DC and made there presence known on Thursday, but did not appear to be directly involved with the conflicts from the inauguration protests on Friday. Be alert of potential counter protests on Saturday.

Questions I received on Friday are:

3. What if certain actions increase confrontation with law enforcement (certain signs, specific protest chants, protesting without shirts or bras)?Deescalate direct confrontations with the police. This can include silence, sitting down, standing but not moving, essentially anything that represents non-violence.

4. What do you do if you get arrested?

Carry enough cash ($100) with you so can pay bail. Depending on the situation, the police may do an “arrest and release” versus an “arrest and hold.”

5. What if the police uses excess force?

Focus on non-violent actions. Sit-in, stand in silence, or record the non-violent protest with your phone. Don’t fight back, or resist an arrest. Let your non-violent actions be the answer.

6. Isn’t marijuana legal in DC?

Yes, marijuana use is legal in Washington DC, but you cannot smoke in public, or on government land or property. If you do, that will leave you open to a possible arrest. Please do keep this in mind for the march.

Enjoy, be safe and have fun!

Jessica Robinson is CEO of PurePoint International and writes frequently on safety and security topics related to holistic security, personal safety, and gender.


The Biggest Travel Week of the Year: Top 7 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling in Midst of Terror Threats

The Biggest Travel Week of the Year: Top 7 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling in Midst of Terror Threats



Holiday travel is already under way as Americans prepare to gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. At a time where people are preparing to rest, feel contentment, and be safe, there is a looming cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the holiday season, leaving people to ask the question whether it is safe to travel, how to travel, and what to do if a violent attack occurs.

The Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, exploded over Egypt killing 224 Russians two weeks ago. Russian and U.S. Intelligence now support ISIS as the perpetrator. Friday, a hotel in Mali was under siege killing 21 people and 170 people were taken hostage. Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility. Last week two Air France planes, in the United States, received terror threats causing them both to make emergency landings. A Spirit Airlines flight, out of Florida, also received a threat forcing the plane to return to the airport minutes after departure. A Turkish Airlines flight was also diverted to Canada because of a bomb threat.

As an International Safety & Security Advisor, I have completed a lot of research on international travel, including polls and focus groups, to learn what is most important to people, when traveling. I am often asked for advice as someone is preparing for an international trip. Here are some practical key learnings anyone traveling this holiday season can adopt to help stay safe when in familiar, or unfamiliar, locations. The goal is always prevention; here are tips for traveling during the holidays domestically or internationally:

  1. Be prepared for delays at the airport: As you may know, this is the busiest time off the year to travel in the U.S. Expect longer wait times, random baggage checks, hand swipes when going through security and expanded screening on airplanes traveling to the U.S.
  2.  Arrive early to airports:  If you are reading this article, I know your priority is to be safeArrive 2 hours early, or earlier, when flying internationally. Be prepared for unexpected delays. With lower oil prices, 25M people are expected to fly on U.S airlines, 3% more than last year.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings: Pay attention to your environment. Do you see an unattended bag? Are your bags with you at all times? Don’t get so caught up in a conversation, reading, etc, that if someone took your wallet off the table, or brushed against you, you wouldn’t notice. Alert law enforcement when appropriate.
  4. Travel in groups when outside the U.S.: This may seem very basic, but when traveling alone it can be very noticeable to others. When in line at a store have “small talk” with the person next to you. It’s a great way to learn the local area, meet new people, and to learn about the culture.
  5.  Are you traveling alone?: If someone you don’t know asks you if you are traveling alone always say “no.” State you are “meeting someone” or “waiting for a friend”. This is especially important for women. I did this while vacationing by myself in the U.S. Virgin Islands and it was very helpful. I was amazed how often I was asked if I was alone.
  6. Understand being an American can make you a target: Not always, of course, but this is a fact that can’t be escaped. It is part of the politics of today’s world. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing to fear; taking precautions are important. Review the U.S. State Department warnings for the country in which you are traveling. Use sound judgment, avoids large crowds of unknown origins, minimize your profile when in public, and always have a cell phone. Yes, if traveling out of the country this is tricky because perhaps you don’t plan on taking your phone to avoid accruing international charges. You can always change your phone plan for the duration of your trip, or purchase a temporary phone prior your trip or when you arrive to the country.
  7. Be aware of daily changing threat alerts: Know what’s happening each day. Despite threats to NYC and Washington DC, the threat alert has not been elevated. The government of France just voted to keep the country as a state of emergency, and in Belgium, the government raised the terror alerts in the Brussels area. The elevation, or de-escalation, of threat levels could change at any moment. Make a point to know what is going on each day while you are traveling.

Despite the fluid, and constantly evolving, environment we are living in today, I encourage you to travel, have fun, and continue to experience cultures this holiday season!

Jessica Robinson, is a writer and Founder & CEO of PurePoint International. She has worked with a top 40 company and with the 2015 US Open. As a security & risk management expert and outsourced CSO (Chief Security Officer), she advises and consults with small and medium sized businesses on threat prevention and response. Learn more at www.the-purepoint.com.

Welcome to Purepoint



Hi Friends,

Thank you all for your support over the last few months as this company started to form and build its legs! It’s a long time coming and this is the first official blog post.

At PurePoint, as a mission driven company, our goal is to increase personal security among all individuals globally.  As a  boutique security firm we deliver safety & security solutions to small and medium sized businesses.

We look forward to you joining us on this journey!

Our three areas are:


We concentrate on helping you to completely analyze and evaluate security risks. This includes the completion of risk assessments,  training in workplace violence & emergency preparedness and the creation of safety & security policies.

Click here to learn more


This includes data security, identity theft and commercial security technology solutions. Contact me about selecting the package that best fits the security needs of your business and find out why our security systems offer the best service in the industry.

Click here to learn more

NEW!! Travel Security Initiative
We deliver innovative and holistic safety and security solutions to individuals and small and medium sized businesses setting the new standard for creating solutions and developing technology to empower business owners and consumers globally.

Have you taken our travel preferences survey? Click here – your input is invaluable!

Interested in learning more about the Travel Security Initiative? Email Jessica@purepoint-international.com


President, PurePoint