Quantcast

Our Voices Helped Make Cyntoia Brown's Case More Than Just A Hashtag

Human Interest

Cyntoia Brown will be released from prison as early as August 7th due to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granting her clemency and commuting her life sentence. Cyntoia, who was imprisoned at only 16 years of age, has spent the last 14 years of her life behind bars after being indicted for first-degree murder of a man that abused and sexually trafficked her. After telling her own story in a revealing documentary, and gaining the support of many celebrities outraged at her circumstances, her story became viral and more importantly caught the attention of those with the means to assist her on the pursuit of freedom.

Lacy Atkins/AP

Her conviction caused many to scrutinize the Tennessee sentencing laws and made the public take a serious look at criminal justice reform. Her situation seemed grim as the Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously ruled in early December that Brown would have to complete 51 years of her sentence before she is eligible for release, and her name not being amongst the 11 people that the governor previously granted clemency to in late December.

However, after Governor Haslam was pressured by the public to review Cyntoia's heartbreaking and complex circumstances and her will to make the most of her life even if behind bars, he had a change of heart. Governor Haslam explained in a written statement:

Lacy Atkins/AP

"Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life."

While in prison, Cyntoia took advantage of the resources at hand in order to find meaning in a life in which she had not been dealt a fair hand. Since her indictment, she has earned her GED and completed an associate degree in 2015 with a 4.0 GPA, all while gaining the adoration of her inmates and correction officers alike.

Cyntoia seems to have found support and solidarity amongst the department of corrections that she has been bound to around half of her lifetime, crediting them along with her family for keeping her grounded. Cyntoia explained in her clemency statement:

"I want to thank those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who saw something in me worth salvaging, especially Ms. Connie Seabrooks for allowing me to participate in the Lipscomb LIFE Program. It changed my life. I am also grateful to those at the Tennessee Department of Corrections who will work with me over the next several months to help me in the transition from prison to the free world."

Cyntoia is set to graduate with her Bachelor's degree in May 2019 as her supporters petition for a speedy release, and she will serve probation for the next 10 years of her life. The news of her freedom is a sweet jubilee for those who scrambled to their nearest keyboard or phone in attempts to do something to help.

I hope that this victory reminds all of us how important and powerful our voices are when it comes to social justice. Many of us tweeted, wrote, called, protested, and petitioned in order to gain Governer Haslam's attention to make Cyntoia Brown more than a hashtag, and we should be very proud. Our efforts came with good reason as history shows that Black Women, young and old, often find ourselves as the least respected and least protected demographic in America.

It is important that we have our own back, and speak up for each other even when it seems more beneficial to be silent.

However, our voices and stories are impossible to ignore, and the love that we have for each other will trump all hate and despair. Continue to be outraged by injustices, continue to speak your mind about situations at hand, and continue to use your voices to set yourself and others free. We are magic!

Feature image by Lacy Atkns/AP.

Free Brittney Griner: What You Should Know About Her Detainment In Russia

It’s been weeks since WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia, allegedly for having vape cartridges that contained hash oil (cannabis oil). But the world only found out recently when Russian media released her alleged mugshot. Brittney, one of the world’s best basketball players who’s been playing for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg team during the WNBA off-season since 2015, faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years, if convicted.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
Going Viral: These 7 Beauty Products Have 'Glowing' Reviews On For A Reason

Within the last year, TikTok has slowly gained most of my attention when it comes to my preferred social media platform. While I’m still getting accustomed to the app and all that it offers, I'm learning that it’s a go-to resource for beauty hacks and product recommendations. Gone are the days of the long format YouTube product review, TikTok is the quickest way to judge whether a viral product or beauty tool is actually “For You” in 60 seconds or less. The new generation of social media influencers gives us access to real reviews at our fingertips from the girl next door excitedly sharing her recent discovery of relatable skin and beauty products you never knew you needed.

Keep reading...Show less
How Beyoncé’s Sexually Liberated “Church Girl” Helped Me Confront Religious Trauma

Like a true Beyoncé stan, when Renaissancedropped, I listened promptly at 12 a.m. with the rest of Twitter. The 16-track album was released just over a month after the debut of its only single “Break My Soul” and, based on my adoration for that song, I knew the album was one that I was guaranteed to dance to–even if alone in my living room. The song that directly follows “Break My Soul” on the house-inspired album is none other than the transformative track “Church Girl.”

Keep reading...Show less
Saying No Is Keke Palmer's Self-Care Non-Negotiable

Although she has been working in showbiz since a pre-teen, Keke Palmer still makes self-care a priority. The Nope star has been busy as of late after starring in the new Jordan Peele film but she took a break to speak about how she still finds time to take care of her mind, body, and spirit. In the September issue ofWomen’s Health, the 28-year-old explained how saying no has helped her in her personal life and career and much more.

Keep reading...Show less
What I Learned From A Therapist About Being More Vulnerable In Relationships

By now we know it takes vulnerability to establish long-lasting and healthy relationships of all kinds. For someone like me, who is aware of this but a hot mess when it comes to execution, this is easier said than done. So, I spoke to a professional on tangible tips to explore my vulnerable side. India Douglas, LMSW works at a school in Brooklyn, New York teaching underserved kids the fundamentals when it comes to understanding feelings.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Adrienne Banfield-Norris & The Co-Creators Of 'Black Love' On What To Expect From The Final Season

Adrienne Banfield-Norris & The Co-Creators Of 'Black Love' On What To Expect From The Final Season

Couples share their love stories for a finale that inspires and empowers.

Latest Posts