Sneakers brought together fashion enthusiasts at the 2020 Sneaker Gala this year, hosted at Loft on the Lake.
The purpose of the fifth annual sneaker ball, however, wasn't just about who won best sneakers that evening. It wasn't even about who was dressed best. Hosted by Salisia's Kloset, an online boutique, the 2020 Sneaker Ball addressed an issue that has great impact on Chicago, national and global communities: human trafficking.
Salisia's Kloset owner Salisia Webber said, "I made this event happen because we all need to work together to do something about human trafficking. We all can do something to bring awareness to this subject."
Over the last several months in Chicago, a staggering number of children, and women have gone missing, according to reports from local media. Communities and local law enforcement links some of those disappearances to human trafficking. In fact, some of these individuals have been identified as LGBTQ individuals from Chicago.
"I love attending an event where I can support something that is important and that means something to me," said LaTasia Jones from Chicago. "Our young kids and women missing is a serious problem, and we need to get together at events like this and talk about what we can do to prevent possible human-trafficking cases," said Jones.
Jones said that she has friends who live in and near the city that identify as gay or transgender, and fears human trafficking one day being their fate.
"It's sad to me to hear my friends think that just because so many people in the world judge their sexual [orientations or gender identity], they may go missing or get hurt. I don't want to lose any in my life as a result of human trafficking."
Young people in the LGBTQ community are most times vulnerable and tend to engage in survival sexmost times leading to sex trafficking. According to an article published last year by Forgetting Children Worldwide, 24.9 million people exploited across the world are victims of sex trafficking, the most common form of the trade. Human trafficking impacts individuals of all ages, but young people are the most vulnerable population, especially runaways. Due to lack of family support, most LGBTQ youth are often times reported as runaways and it's a population that is extremely vulnerable to human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking.
At the event, Webber spoke about solutions to prevent human trafficking in Chicago's neighborhoods and what could be done to support these efforts. One solution that night was to donate to WAR ( Women at Risk ) International, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit organization ( at WARInternational.org ). Another was to shop at one of the tables of local vendorssome of whom were sponsors of the event that night.
"Do your part to help us put an end to human trafficking in our neighborhoods," said Webber. "This is a serious issue that needs attention from all of us. No matter who you are and what part of Chicago you live in, help put an end to this."
To learn more about upcoming events hosted by Salisia's Kloset, visit SalisiasKloset.com .