Monday, December 10, 2018
I haven’t blogged in a long time. There have been many reasons for this. Chief among them is that there is so much bullshit going on in this Age of The Lying Orange Imbecile, so much outrageous, unbelievable, noteworthy, Tier One-level outlandishness at the local, state, federal and international levels, so much offensive, unjust, unacceptable behavior on the part of human beings who do or should know better, that I’ve just been too overwhelmed, too depressed, too jaded and pessimistic and nauseated to put fingertips to keyboard. I wanted to but I just couldn’t.
In the last few days, I’ve run across several references to Cyntoia Brown, a young woman of color from Tennessee who had an unfortunate childhood, got into drugs and prostitution, chose an abusive 24-year-old pimp known as “Kut Throat” as her “boyfriend” and was sentenced to life in prison for killing 43-year-old Johnny Allen, a real estate agent who “bought” her and who was asleep when she shot him in the head with his own gun back in 2004. (She claimed he was going to shoot her so she took him out first.) She was just 16 when she went to the Big House – she had been deemed competent to stand trial and tried as an adult although she wasn’t – and last week the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that she won’t be eligible for parole until she’s 67 years old.
Click here to read “Cyntoia Brown, Sentenced at 16, Must Serve 51 Years Before She Is Eligible for Release” in Rolling Stone. And click here to read about “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story,” a documentary on the case that appeared on PBS back in 2011.
I’m not sure why Cyntoia’s deplorable situation penetrated the fog that seems to surround me of late. Maybe it’s partly because I too have made unwise choices for which I’m currently being punished excessively. Maybe it’s because the way in which this then-underage victim of sex trafficking is being persecuted is so blatantly wrong. Maybe it’s because she was around the same age as the kids I used to co-parent are when she got in trouble. Maybe it’s because Tennessee has by far the harshest juvenile sentencing laws in the nation. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t step outside of my own Pity Party for 60 minutes to add my voice to those demanding justice for this hapless young woman.
What Can You Do?
Although Cyntoia’s case will now be considered by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, it seems like your best bet is to contact Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam right away. He can grant Cyntoia clemency before he leaves office next month.
Governor Bill Haslam
State Capitol, First Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
You can also send Cyntoia a card or note.
Tennessee Prison for Women
2 North, B49
3881 Stewarts Lane
Nashville, Tennessee 37218-3302
And you can always join a Facebook group. Two are here and here.
In a time when white people get laughably lenient sentences for rape and murder while people of color are sentenced to prison for decades – or themselves murdered – for lesser offenses, we must each do what we can to speak truth to power, cry out for the voiceless and confront racism at every opportunity.
Now I can look at myself in the mirror tonight. Can you?
Sources: Rolling Stone, Color Lines.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
It’s hard to publicly express gratitude without crossing lines and revealing too much about oneself or others. Suffice it to say that I owe much to the many people who came to my aid yesterday. I’m close to some and have yet to meet most of the men and women who brightened my life, literally and figuratively, when I needed help.
It felt funny to ask. As soon as I did, my brother Josh assured me that my problem would be solved and it was no big deal. (It was.) He then connected via Facebook with his and our friends, including longtime friend Judith, and my dilemma was soon resolved. Judith showed mad love, as did many others, and I was moved and touched and reminded and impressed and amazed by how beautiful people can be. Really. Still. Even now. In this climate.
My vocabulary is insufficient to adequately express how much I dig and appreciate Josh, Judith and the rest of you right now.
P.S. I’d be remiss if I didn’t refer to the fact that the people of Puerto Rico have been powerless for 238 days and counting.