This story really makes me upset. Yet again we see our unjust justice system has failed another woman of color who chose survival over being sexually mistreated. This is yet a prime example of how the safety of a woman is of minimal concern to the court system. Ms. Brown has been incarcerated for almost a decade for murdering a man who purchased her as a sex slave and made her fear for her safety, when she was 16-years-old. She made a choice to protect herself and the system failed to protect her.
Now, the first time this story became news to me was late last year when I saw it circulating around social media. I was unaware that Ms. Brown was already serving a life sentence and her supporters and attorneys were fighting her length of her incarceration. If my understanding of the facts of the case were right, then they were arguing that Ms. Brown’s sentence was excessive because it was unlawful to give a minor a life sentence for a crime. News recently broke that Ms. Brown will not be released from jail and that she must serve 51 years of her sentence before she is eligible for release.
I could be totally off here but this story is also an example of the credibility of a woman of color was called into question. It’s as if this ruling is saying that the mistreatment of Black and brown female bodies is invalid, like we are just supposed to accept abuse because that’s what we deserve. That if she would have just continued to be be sexually abused she would not be in prison.
We live in a country where statistically, Black and Latino/Hispanic people are incarcerated higher than white people. According to the NAACP’s website, 32% of the children arrested in 2014 were Black. You didn’t need me to tell you that though, this is not a new topic. Prisons were designed to find a new way for slavery after Emancipation.
I feel as if this ruling is a slap in the face for the fight for social justice. I’m not saying that giving up the fight for social justice, that will always continue, I’m saying that its situations like these that gives us a constant reminder about why we must continue. The five judges that unanimously ruled in favor of Ms. Brown serving 51-years, I wonder if they have daughters. Or little grandchildren. I wonder if they had to make the same decision on their lives like they did Ms. Brown, if they would feel the same. If their daughters or granddaughters had to make the same decision Ms. Brown had to make at 16-years-old, if they would unanimously vote to keep them behind bars for 51 years.
I’m just going to end this by saying that Cyntoia Brown is a SHero and we must not let her name get lost in a sea of hashtags. Let her continue to remind you that there is still tremendous work that needs to be done in country and in our unjustified justice system.
❤ Queen T