Cheers! My Birthday Celebration with the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours

After losing my grandmother a few weeks before my birthday, I really needed to celebrate life. I know she would want me to do that. This year, I decided to ring in a new year of life in wine country. My soror traveled up from So Cal to visit. This would be her first time in Napa. I didn’t want to drive so instead, we bought bus tickets for the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours.

Let me tell you something, going on this bus tour was one of the BEST decisions I made. The Napa Valley Wine Country Tours bus isn’t just any bus. It’s a limo bus that looks like a VIP club lounge on wheels. We paid $119 for an 8-hour trip, visit to 4 wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, continental breakfast and lunch. It was worth every penny. The tastings aren't covered in the bus fare, but they ran about $10-$25. Wineries won't charge you for tastings if you buy a bottle. I recommend this for tourists and any Bay Area locals who have folks visiting from out of town and want a short excursion to Nap…

Child Sex Trafficking Outside My Front Door


Photo by Mike Linksvayer  
Prostitution in my Oakland childhood neighborhood is nothing new. I remember seeing the same, few women working corners near by for years. My neighborhood was no Beverly Hills, but for the most part the streets stayed quiet and the working-class families all knew each other. But the neighborhood has changed since I returned and not in a good way. Those women who worked the corners when I was kid have been replaced by children. You read right, CHILDREN. Just the other day I saw two girls in miniskirts, looking no older than 13, standing on the corners peeking inside cars driving by. One was black and the other I believe may have been white or Latina. Girls like them and a bit older are sprinkled throughout a 40-block stretch of International Blvd. known as “The Track.” How did my neighborhood, where I learned to ride my bike and attended Catholic high school, become a hot spot for child sex trafficking? It makes me sick that as I type this, a young girl who should be doing her homework or going to softball practice, is selling her body to make money for some pimp. And it disgusts me that some man or men are exposing these girls to STDs, rape, malnutrition and God knows what else. Many of these girls are forced into the trade through a tactic called “’guerilla pimping.” Girls are kidnapped, gang raped and beaten in prostitution. The children are in fear of their lives and don’t leave. And even if they “chose” to go that route, it doesn’t matter. They’re kids and from what I’ve been told by experts, don’t have family. Pimps prey on kids in foster care and group homes.

Pimp culture has always been a strong stitch in the fabric of Oakland’s ghetto culture. Rappers like Too $hort and Dru Down often had some sort of "pimps up, hoes down" theme in their songs. The whole situation makes me sad, but there’s hope. People have held protests. This weekend I went to a community summit on human trafficking at Allen Temple Baptist Church. I could write a dissertation on all of the information I learned. Three people spoke: Nola Brantley, executive director of MISSSEY; Melissa Farley, executive director of Prostitution Research and Education and Officer Jim Saleda. My mouth hit the floor when Officer Saleda said serving in Iraq paled to what's happening to girls in Oakland's streets. Our society finds money to pay athletes and reality stars. But when it comes to our women and children, especially those who are poor and minorities--it's a battle. We MUST save our girls from Oakland’s streets. WE MUST.

Comments

  1. How about increasing the penalties for trafficking? One that comes to mind is chemical castration for both pimps and johns. That should serve as a deterrent ...

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  2. There is a need for tougher laws. Oooh, chemical castration. Ouch! I wouldn't even say the word "pimp" if that were legal.

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