330 acres of Georgia soil - grounds that were once operated by legions of Confederate soldiers - is now the first studio owned by a Black American mogul: Mr. Tyler Perry. But this extensive film complex will do far more than bless us with more movies.
It will also be used as a compound to house trafficked, homeless, and displaced women and LGBTQ youth.
The groups are two of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in the nation, especially in Georgia. According to the state’s Governor, Brian Kemp, sex trafficking is a huge issue. “In this city, Atlanta has become a hub for human trafficking. Innocent children are simply being sold for sex. Evil people committing evil deeds all to turn a profit.”
During the most recent Super Bowl in Atlanta alone, “the FBI says it arrested 169 people over 11 days. That includes 23 traffickers and 34 people attempting to engage in sex acts with minors. As for the victims, nine teenage sex trafficking victims were rescued. The youngest victim was 14-years-old.”
“3,600 minors are sold into sex slavery every year in the state of Georgia,” states Street Grace - a Georgia-based nonprofit working to stop youth sexual exploitation. “That’s enough to fill 72 school buses with children.”
Black women are more likely than any other race to become victims of sex trafficking, as well. According to the FBI, “40 percent of victims of sex trafficking are [Black] Americans.” The vast majority of that percentage are Black girls and women.
The FBI also noted that “59 percent of all juvenile prostitution arrests involve [Black] Americans.” This is on top of law enforcement being “more likely to see a Black sex trafficking victim as a prostitute and not as someone needing help,” which means “trying to find solutions toward keeping our girls safe may require a radical examination of the core beliefs American society is currently based on.”
Tyler Perry is hoping to dedicate part of this life’s work to this issue.
With CBS This Morning’s Gayle King, Perry expressed the legacy he wishes to leave: “I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about… building a compound for trafficked women, girls, homeless women, LGBTQ youth who are put out or displaced. And having a compound that is a beautiful place right here somewhere on this 330 acres, where they’re trained in the business and they become self-sufficient, they live in nice apartments, there’s daycare, there’s all of these wonderful things that allows them to reenter society and then pay it forward again. That’s what I hope to do soon.”