Tennessee’s Governor Considers Clemency for Cyntoia Brown

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Tennessee’s Governor Considers Clemency for Cyntoia Brown

Celebrating her story of strength and heroism and encouraging her journey from sex trafficking victim to sexual assault survivor

Published December 15th

There are times I wish I more seriously considered being a judge. Outside of being able to cut people off by slamming a gavel down, kind of like the throwback way of hanging up on someone with a flip phone, I could do something about the countless cases highlighting the injustices and disadvantages people of color face everywhere in America. Nonetheless, that’s exactly my problem. Cases would become too personal for me. In the Whitest parts of America, of course, judges with my sentiments are hard to find. And they sure as hell didn’t exist in the Tennessee case of Cyntoia Brown.

Cyntoia Brown is a case about a 16 year old girl, born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and a traumatic childhood history of rape, tried and convicted of 51 years without parole for killing her rapist.  Even if you aren’t subscribed to the NY Times or TheSkimm, your favorite celebrity’s favorite celebrities, like Lebron James, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian, were up in arms about the verdict of this underaged sex trafficking victim being charged as an adult.

Of course the obvious distinction of justice is the fact that Cyntoia, naturally, is a black woman. It’s hard to imagine that if Elizabeth Smart was able to over power and kill one of the two adults who held her captive and raped her and finally escaped the horrific torture she faced as a child that she would have been charged with murder and sentenced to 51 years in prison without parole vs celebrated as a hero and sympathized with as an assault victim. Women of all races absolutely face injustices, because this country of course caters to *cough cough* old, white men. But if you’re going to be a women in “Ole White Man Amurrica” and deal with adversities for having a labia, it’s a triple whammy when you’re poor, Black, or Brown.

Behind so many fatalities, rapes, or shit the entire Dante’s Inferno of sins committed by  white men in America are cases being dropped and men given second, third, and fourth chances at freedom. For the Cyntoia Brown haters and outliers that probably want #Justice4WhiteRapists let’s subtly remind you of 20 year old Ethan Couch. Ethan was a teenager who killed 4 people in a drunk driving accident and got charges dropped because Dr. Seuss diagnosed him with “Affluenza.” Didn’t get your Affluenza shot? Oh, that’s probably because Affluenza is an uuuuuuuuber serious ailment caused by being a product of wealthy, and privileged white parents who never set boundaries. Wait, WHAT?! That...is...a…”DISEASE!?” You can NOT get convicted for murder, for not just killing a man but because you were illegally underage drinking because you’re so rich you don’t know right from wrong…. Or clearly right from left. I have absolutely heard it all. If you got the right coin you can TOO can you a Dr. Seuss complete with your own set of made up diseases to get you out of jail… Mother effing GOALS. ALSO! Ethan Couch ONLY did 2 years jail time because he and his rich ass enabling mother violated parole and they fled to Puerto Vallarta (a  resort city),Mexico together. I never thought I’d ever say this but, #WALL (only to keep criminals like the Couch’s out of Mexico)!

A woman who was BORN into poverty, at a horrendously mental and socioeconomic disadvantage loses 51 years of her “freedom” for protecting herself all the while an “affluent” white boy with a hundred passport stamps gets a slap on the wrist 2 years for violating parole ChaCha Sliding in Puerto Vallarta. During Ethan Couch’s actual trial, he was “sentenced” 10 years…. PAROLE! He didn’t murder one, or two, or three people but FOUR people and got 10 years PAROLE. There are definitely people in jail right now for selling or dealing Marijuana and he’s walking free for killing members of someone’s family. Cyntoia Brown wouldn’t even be granted a slice of opportunity at freedom until doing a mandated 51 years for killing one horribly despicable rapist. That is the purest form of white privilege I have ever seen. I personally don’t even believe an “affluent” black teenage boy wouldn’t get 10 years of parole for killing a DOG (white people trigger).

What about rapists, though? For the extremist #Justice4AnyoneNotBlack movements that somehow would discredit my comparison because Ethan Couch, although committing murder, didn’t have anything to do with rape, I’ve got someone for dat ass. A young White “freeman” Jacob Anderson, president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Baylor University, was recently let off the hook for raping a 19 year old girl at a party thrown by Anderson’s very own. Instead of being sentenced with 4 counts of sexual assault, Anderson took a plea deal that warranted a fine of $400, some therapy, and a bogus minor charge of unlawful restraint. $400, Bro? My Con-Ed bill damned near costs $400 and if my broke ass can afford that you know some pervy ass white frat boy blows that on weed for the day.

Our justice system is, in the most articulate way possible, WEAK AF! People born and raised with major drawbacks and no financial ways to defend their cases or character will never be granted the second chances that the majority of white people in America will get. White people get so disgusted at the idea of Blacks mocking white privilege and although it may not be “their fault” in 2018, they can’t ignore that it does exist. White people tell us to shut up about racism and that lots of whites get convicted of crimes taka taka, but will also be quick to circulate a photo of Malia Obama twerking at a college party. Then they will turn around and say a teen girl deserved to get raped because she was twerking at a frat party.

During a speaking event, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was challenged during a question-and-answer period by a Black Lives Matter activist, Justin Laing.  Laing eloquently defended Cyntoia Brown’s maltreatment the Tennessee’s judicial system has dealt her. Despite attempts at cutting Laing off, he fully completed his plea for clemency that the Governor holds the power to achieve. After a slight upheaval post Laing’s request for Brown’s clemency, Governor Haslam mildly agreed to review Brown’s case for clemency, as well as other cases that may not have received the same amount of publicity as Brown’s case but should be equally reviewed.

Justin Laing using his voice to move the governor of Tennessee even an inch is a start in the  right direction. There is truth in knowing that Brown’s case just so happens to be popular and that there are probably thousands of girls suffering and slipping through the cracks of our really shaky criminal justice system. We need to continue to be a voice for our girls and constantly remind white people that even though Black lives may matter to the folks we’re friends with, there are white people who truly believe Black lives don’t matter. And they can be in the form of cops, judges, jurors, and lawyers. Let us continue to fight the good fight, no matter how exhausting it may be! 

Written by Brittany Whitfield

(Photo by Christian Ohde/McPhoto/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

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