Since Day 1, Left Foot Forward has always promoted healing through the arts. Our organization was recently asked to serve as an information vendor at Memphis' monthly event: Artistik Lounge. We were so excited for the opportunity!
What better way to get our message out than to also combine it with a method of healing that we primarily support, provide, and promote?
Besides setting up a table and speaking to those in attendance, our founder also had an opportunity to give a 5 minute speech about Left Foot Forward and child sexual abuse as well.
Many thanks to Shahidah Jones, Tameka Greer, Brandon Tolson, and DJ Siphne Aaye for the opportunity!
Check out our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OurLeftFootForward.org) or our Instagram page (@ourleftfootforward) to see all pics from the event and to watch the video of our founder's speech at the event as well.
SAY IT LOUD: FREE CYNTOIA BROWN!
One of the aspects of rape culture is that it allows for the punishment of the victim versus the focus being on the punishment of the predator.
In 2004, Cyntoia was a 16 year old sex trafficking victim. She was purchased for sex by 43 year old Johnny Michael Allen. Allen was an Army vet and gun enthusiast. At some point during their time together, Brown became fearful of Allen; as he bragged of his collection of guns and was painfully physical with her during sex. As a result, she shot him in what she perceived to be self defense.
Cyntoia has been constantly portrayed as a cold blooded murderer, rather than the victim of child sexual abuse and sex trafficking that she was. Never has Johnny Michael Allen been portrayed for what he actually was - a child rapist and perpetrator of sex trafficking.
Since Cyntoia was sentenced to life behind bars, Tennessee law changed to now protect those under 18 years of age from being charged with prostitution. Unfortunately, this law change was not retroactive - so Cyntoia Brown remains behind bars. It was our hope that in a recent hearing, the TN Parole Board would recommend her for clemency. However, the parole board was divided and now Cyntoia's hopes for freedom now rest in the hands of TN Governor Bill Haslam.
What does Left Foot Forward, other grassroots organizations (such as SisterReach, quoted here), and other victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and sex trafficking want? We want this amended law to be immediately and retroactively applied to Cyntoia Brown (and other victims like her), thus granting her an immediate release.