Things That Matter

Cyntoia Brown Was Finally Released From Prison After 15 Years– This Is What Resistance Looks Like

After spending almost half her life behind bars, Cyntoia Brown was released on parole early Wednesday morning, according to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.  Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison when she was 16 years old after killing a man who allegedly forced her into sex, served 15 years in the Tennessee Prison for Women. 

Now, at 31, she is slated to begin her life on parole for the next 10 years.

As part of her parole, Brown is required to maintain employment or educational enrollment, participate in regular counseling sessions and perform at least 50 hours of community service, including working with at-risk youth.

Brown earned her associate degree from Lipscomb University in 2015 with a 4.0 GPA, obtained a bachelor’s degree in the Tennessee Prison for Women in May and has regularly worked with the state’s juvenile justice system to help counsel young people at risk. Her case gained national attention last December when a Tennessee Supreme Court ruled she would have to serve 51 years in prison before being eligible for parole. High-profiled celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West, Lebron James and Cara Delevingne joined choirs of activists and outraged citizens advocating for her release and funding legal support.

“Something his (sic) horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life,” Rihanna captioned a post on Instagram in November 2017.

Kardashian West shared the pop star’s post on Twitter

 “The system has failed. Its heartbreaking to see young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right,” she added. 

With mounting pressure, former Gov. Bill Haslam took the rare step of commuting Brown’s sentence earlier this year.

In January, Haslan called the sentence “too harsh,” especially considering the “extraordinary steps” she had “taken to rebuild her life” while incarcerated.

“I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord’s help I will make them, as well as the rest of my supporters, proud,” Brown said in a statement released Monday, as reported by USA Today.

Before her release, which occurred at 3 a.m. on Wednesday, she met with counselors to create a plan for her life outside of prison. According to Tennessee’s Department of Corrections, the proposal included joining and participating in a transition center and continuing coursework with the Lipscomb University program. Brown, who was recently married while in prison, also has a book deal. “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System” will be released October 15.

In the years leading to her release, advocates have referred to her case as an example of the “sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline,” which represents the unjust imprisonment of child sex trafficking victims and survivors of sexual abuse, particularly girls of color, to rally lawmakers and juvenile justice reformers to push for anti-trafficking laws and more support, rather than incarceration, for child survivors.

As a teenager, Brown was forced into sex work by a 24-year-old pimp named “Cut Throat” who used to verbally and physically abuse her. 

On Aug. 6, 2004, court documents note that she met 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen, a Nashville real estate agent, in the parking lot of a Sonic Drive-In. After agreeing to be paid $150 for sex, the two went to his home. There, Brown said that Allen showed her multiple guns in a cabinet. At one point, she alleges that the man reached under his bed, seemingly grabbing a firearm. Frightened by the thought that he was planning on killing her, Brown said she took a gun out of her purse and fatally shot Allen.

While Brown has always claimed she killed Allen in self-defense, the prosecution argued that because she took Allen’s wallet after she shot him in the back of the head at close range, that the motive was robbery.

She was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery, which carried, in total, two concurrent life sentences and eight additional years.

However, because Gov. Haslam used his exclusive power to grant executive clemency toward the end of his term, Brown’s sentence was commuted.

Last week, the former Tennessee governor said his decision was based on the state’s evolving approach to juvenile justice, an understanding of Brown’s troubling background and her growth behind bars.

“She, in her own words, did something horrible. She made a really bad decision as a very young woman,” Haslam told USA Today

Brown, who has expressed gratitude to Haslam and her supporters, who last week started a GoFundMe campaign that as of Wednesday afternoon has raised more than $23 thousand, said she feels blessed and ready to use her story and experiences to help others.

“I’m blessed to have a very supportive family and friends to support me in the days to come. I look forward to using my experiences to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation,” she said.

Read: Cyntoia Brown Will Be Released From Prison Next Week And Supporters Have Already Started A GoFundMe

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Camila Cabello Says That She Has Been Going To Weekly Racial Healing Sessions After Her ‘N-Word’ Scandal

Entertainment

Camila Cabello Says That She Has Been Going To Weekly Racial Healing Sessions After Her ‘N-Word’ Scandal

Over a year has passed since Camila Cabello’s old and racist Tumblr posts resurfaced in order to haunt her. Now, after having issued an apology months ago, and spending some time in quarantine, it seems she’s eager to ask once again for our forgiveness.

Cabello recently shared that she’s been attending weekly racial healing sessions after it came out that she used racist and offensive language in social media posts.

In a recent interview with People magazine, Camila revealed that she had joined the National Compadres Network’s racial healing program soon after she had issued a public apology for her actions in December 2019. “It created a space where I was held accountable,” Camila explained in her interview. “You get corrected, you have homework, and you learn. That’s how you move forward. Now I know better so I can do better.”

Cabello went onto explain that the sessions encouraged her to hold herself accountable.

“As I learned more about other people’s experiences in the world, I was like, ‘How do I help the people who are on the frontlines of dismantling systems that create oppression? And how do I bridge that with my own personal journey with mental health and healing?” she explained before realizing that her experience encouraged her to financially support Movement Voter Fund to help create the Healing Justice Project. Cabello says that she has donated $250,000 to ten different organizations that have set out to fight for racial justice.

“What all the organizations have in common is that they are helping their communities, especially marginalized groups in their communities,” Camila Cabello explained. “They all also expressed a need for these mental wellness resources.”

In December 2019, Camila was forced to acknowledge the offensive and hurtful nature of her old posts and texts some of which targeted her fellow Fifth Harmony group member Normani.

“I was uneducated and ignorant and once I became aware of the history and the weight and the true meaning behind this horrible and hurtful language, I was deeply embarrassed I ever used it. I apologize then and I apologize again now. I’m 22 now,” she underlined at the time. “I’m an adult and I’ve grown and learned and am conscious and aware of the history and the pain it carries in a way I wasn’t before.”

At the time, Normani expressed her disappointment in the resurfaced posts in a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone.

“I struggled with talking about this because I didn’t want it to be a part of my narrative, but I am a Black woman, who is a part of an entire generation that has a similar story. I face senseless attacks daily, as does the rest of my community,” Normani explained at the time. “This represents a day in the life for us. I have been tolerating discrimination far before I could even comprehend what exactly was happening. Direct and subliminal hatred has been geared towards me for many years solely because of the color of my skin.”

Normani went on to point out that Camila Cabello remained quiet when she endured racist attacks online explaining “It took days for her to acknowledge what I was dealing with online and then years for her to take responsibility for the offensive tweets that recently resurfaced. Whether or not it was her intention, this made me feel like I was second to the relationship that she had with her fans.”

Normani eventually expressed a wish to see Camila learn. “There is genuine understanding about why this was absolutely unacceptable,” she added. “I don’t want to say that this situation leaves me hopeless because I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity for personal growth.”

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Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

Things That Matter

Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

Don’t call it a total cancellation.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has made the decision of their own accord to no longer publish or license six of the books written and illustrated by the writer Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel. The American children’s author who passed away in 1991 was also a political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker. His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), and his book  If I Ran the Zoo (1950) are among the books being pulled as a result of racist and insensitive imagery.

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises shared a statement on their website explaining their decision to cancel the publication of the books.

Citing the four other books including McElligot’s Pool (1947), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), On Beyond Zebra! (1955) and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976) the company explained that they came to the decision citing the fact that they each “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” explained the statement.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises is a company that, according to Time Magazine, works to preserve and protect “the legacy of the late author and illustrator, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, also noted in the statement that the decision was made over the past year with a panel of experts, including educators, academics, and specialists in the field, who reviewed the catalog of titles.”

Children’s books by Dr. Seuss have long been considered a classic contribution to children’s literature.

The books’ colorful and fun illustrations and rhymes are still to this day instantly recognizable. Recently, however, the writer’s work has been re-examined and scrutinized for racial caricatures and stereotypes. This is especially when it comes to the depictions of Black and Asian people. Many have also pointed out that before he was known as Dr. Seusss, Geisel’s work had been strongly criticized for “drawing WWII cartoons that used racist slurs and imagery, as well as writing and producing a minstrel show in college, where he performed in blackface—a form of entertainment that some children’s literature experts point to as the inspiration for Geisel’s most famous character, the Cat in the Hat.”

Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s announcement of their decision to pull these books coincided with the anniversary of the writer’s birthday.

Geisel’s birthday coincidentally comes at the same time as National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, which has long been attached to his books,

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