Fifteen Gets You Twenty

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[Column: Decidedly Jasmyne]


I'm 30, so I can still vaguely remember being 15 years old.  And at the risk of revealing more about my past than I want to or care to remember, I'm going to tell you a little bit about me.

The Jasmyne of today is not the Jasmyne of 15 years ago.  At 15, I thought I knew it all.   A ward of the State of California, I bounced from group home to group home and sometimes in between wandered the streets of Hollywood and South L.A..  I've seen things and been places that I never care to see or go again.

At 15, I had the body of a grown woman.  Hips, thighs, ass, and the attitude to match.  And while on the outside I may have appeared to have been older and maybe even acted like it, I wasn't.  I was 15. At 15, I had grown men following behind me as if I was 25. I had grown men, married men, father's, grandfather's, and the like checking for Jasmyne.

At 15, I was blinded by my anger at my parents and at the same time misguided by it.

Having just been introduced to Los Angeles by way of the Department of Children and Family Services, I was in a whole new world and the only thing that I had going for me at the time, or so I thought, was my big butt and a smile.

My big butt and smile got me rides to and from Foshay Jr. High School and later Crenshaw High School. It got me beepers, cell phones, shopping sprees and McDonald's.  All at the expense of grown ass men who were into young girls who didn't know any better; confused, angry, and all too willing to lose their innocence for a Big Mac with Cheese, rims, and a car with a boomin' system that made their friends jealous.

I'm telling you this because this is why I stood on the corner of Prarie Avenue and Manchester Boulevard in front of The Forum last Friday in the cold holding a sign that read "15 Will Get You 20." You saw that video just like I did and even if you didn't you heard about it. For argument's sake, even if you didn't hear about it there's one thing that can't be denied; he did marry Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27.

Just because it's consensual doesn't make it alright.  He was the adult in the situation as many other men are that still choose to take advantage of young girls just because they are willing to go there. I don't know everything, but there's one thing I am certain of. 

No one who preaches that the children are our future and that we need to leave the babies alone, then turns around, and flips a profit off the concert of a pedophile just to pay the mortgage can tell me anything about how I should live my life and who I should or should not be sleeping with and that's real.

To all those people who are outraged over the case of Megan Williams, the young Black woman in West Virginia who was held inside a shed and tortured for days, sexually assaulted, beaten, forced to eat rat droppings and drink the urine of her white captors, but yet are still stepping from side to side to R. Kelly’s music and living in complete denial regarding his blatant penchant for underage lovers, spare me your rhetoric. 

If Michael Vick can sit in prison seven months after being charged with dog fighting, why has it taken nearly six years for R. Kelly to stand trial in a case involving a human being?

Last week, I was listening to the Michael Baisend Show and they were discussing domestic violence. All of these brothas were calling in and talking about how they had to whoop on someone's ass for beating on their momma or sista. I'm in my car like, so you'll beat a man’s ass for beating your mom or sister, but it's okay for a grown ass man to sleep with, urinate on, and marry an underage girl? Why doesn't that warrant the same reaction from these brothas? Tell me that.

Better yet, why is it that a high school coach can be arrested for allegedly handcuffing and tying up teen girls at his home and on campus and immediately be banned from the school and placed on leave, but a man that is videotaped urinating on an underage girl and who is indicted on 14 counts of child pornography is welcomed with open arms into our community?

Oh wait; the girl's the coach was accused of handcuffing and tying up were white I believe and well R. Kelly just relieved himself on a Black girl.  Silly me, what was I thinking?

Until this community, the Black community, my community, can value the lives of young Black girls the same way that the lives of young Black men are valued, you can miss me.

Just so that we're clear--Pedophilia is the primary or exclusive sexual attraction by adults to prepubescent youths. A person with this attraction is called a pedophile.

The term pedophile is used to denote an adult who is sexually attracted to adolescents or youths below the local age of consent, as well as those accused or convicted of child sexual abuse or child pornography related offenses.

Denial is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.  The subject may deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether, admit the fact but deny its seriousness, or admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility.

Addiction is the recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual's health, mental state or social life. Plain and simple. R. Kelly’s a pedophile that we're in denial about and whose music we're addicted to. My naivety was due to my age, what's your excuse?

Black Star News columnist Jasmyne Cannick is known for addressing the issues that others can't or simply won't from a decidedly Black point of view. An award-winning journalist and blogger, Jasmyne was selected as one of ESSENCE Magazine's 25 Women Shaping the World.

To comment or to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, or to send us a news tip, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to
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Also visit out sister publications Harlem Business News and The Groove music magazine at

"Speaking Truth To Empower."


To comment or to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, or to send us a news tip, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to
[email protected]

Also visit out sister publications Harlem Business News and The Groove music magazine at

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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