Letter to Cyntoia Brown
The year 2017 had the brave exposing the monsters. From these exposures, America has witnessed many powerful figureheads revealed as decade(s)-long sexual predators. The Verge in it’s December 2017 article, noted this: Men are repeatedly given a pass when they don’t deserve one. Unfortunately, too many women already know and have experienced this. The women who have come forward in these highly publicized stories are to be commended.
However, there are too many other women—especially those in marginalized communities— whose stories are untold for the most part due to fear of losing their jobs, their children, and even in extreme cases, their freedom.
This article is to raise the voice and situation of a woman named Cyntoia Brown.
A lot people may not have heard her story, but Cyntoia Brown was given a life sentence at the age of 16 for the murder of a man in Nashville, TN in 2004. She was an abused runaway who was raped and forced into prostitution by a pimp who was known as “cut-throat”. Though she was a minor, she was tried as an adult because she had taken his wallet after killing him, deeming her self-defense motive as invalid and altering her story to appear as a robbery.
The man she killed was 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allan, who paid for sex with her; with the age of consent in Tennessee being 18, this was statutory rape. Brown’s case only began to receive interest when A-list celebrities—such as Rihanna and Kim Kardashian—began tweeting about her story.
No one knows why the story has resurfaced, but it is one to pay attention to. I for one want her to know that I see her and stand with her.
For Cyntoia Brown:
At the time of your unjust imprisonment, I was only 10 or 11 years old. I didn’t know nor could I understand the depths of what had happened to you. Now—nearly 14 years later—I have discovered your story and want to continue sharing it with the world.
I want people to constantly keep talking about your story, keep acknowledging that child prostitution cases need to be addressed more properly, and that a victim should never have to pay for the horrible situations they were placed into.
I hope when this letter reaches you, that you have not given up hope and are still fighting for the justice that you deserve. I hope that though you are suffering and are still unrightfully incarcerated, your case has sparked change not only in the media, but in the criminal justice system as well, with the Supreme Court banning the mandatory life sentence without parole for children.
Your story has made people recognize that this country still has a lot of updating to do with their laws and how the system is run.
You, Ms. Brown, are responsible for positive and progressive change. You are a voice for all victims who were afraid of standing up to their victimizers; all the children who experienced hardship from home and instead of receiving help, they were taken advantage of.
I applaud your act of courage and I hope that the courts realize that your motives were of an act of self-defense, not a robbery. I will continue to keep you in my prayers and to keep fighting for this messed-up system to do you some right.
Don’t just talk about her, write her. Go the next step and reach out to her, letting her know that her story has not disappeared:
Ms. Cyntoia Brown #410493
Tennessee Prison for Women
Unit 1 West D-49 3881
Stewarts Lane Nashville, TN 37218
Change in 2018 will start with action. Even the smallest actions—like writing letters to women like Cyntoia or our senators—can make a huge difference for the future of human rights in America.