Oakland-based Youth Radio has an impressive two-part series up this week on teen prostitution, produced in partnership with "All Things Considered" on NPR and led by young reporter Denise Tejada.
Tejada, in Part 1 of the series, talks two former teenage sex workers who were coerced or forced into hooking on the streets of Oakland. Their descriptions of their time under the control of pimps -- they have subcategories, apparently, such as "romeo pimp" and "guerrilla pimp" -- are pretty chilling.
One girl identified as Brittney explains how she entered the underworld. She was kidnapped when she was 15: "All I heard was, 'Man, go get that girl,' and one of them came out and dragged me by my hair and pulled me into the car."
She was then gang-raped.
Interviewed in the story, Alameda County District Atty. Sharmin Bock is up-front: "Remember Guyana and Jim Jones where everybody's drinking that Kool-Aid drink? Well, that's exactly what these girls have had. Let's call it pimp juice. They've all had it and they can't see past either their affection for him, or their fear for their trafficker."
Part 2 of the series, on how sex-trafficking has "gone global and more violent," airs Tuesday.
The Youth Radio page for the "Trafficked" series also includes essential web extras. The "Pimp Business Plan" is ... wow ("Make every hoe take a vow to hoeing."), and the Davey D audio essay on rap's connection to pimping and the "hustling" culture of Oakland is also good listening.
Addenda, on the media:
Denise Tejada, by the way, is the kind of natural new-generation journalist who should rightfully make old media models and old media institutions a bit nervous. I found a post with video where Tejada is first interviewed by NBC-Universal's mun2 then manages to turn the tables, getting an interview from her interviewers.
That's what's up Denise, and all young people of color; never permit yourself to be merely a subject. We all know how ugly that paradigm can get. So congratulations is due to the young journalists at Youth Radio, and all their supporters, for their strong work.
Keep at it!