Gangster Turned Guru Presents: Chapter Excerpt: “Esco”

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I have no problem admitting that my gangster mentality stemmed from a false self-perception and lack of self-love to all the various gang members I’ve had as cellmates.  When I discuss how I’ve refused to entertain those negative thought patterns to Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords that I’ve bunked with, most couldn’t imagine changing their lives being apart from their gang.

This was especially true for a 24-year-old Crip, from Long Island named Esco.  Short, stocky, half black and half Puerto Rican with an innocent looking baby face that has fooled plenty of people when put to the test.  He claimed to love the gang life.  He swore he knew it all, talking me to death with his gang mentality from which he perceived the world.

Every day at 3:30 p.m. as soon as the cell door locked for the count, Esco would sit up from the top bunk, where he’d spend most of the day and start to talk.

“Eddie, these guys always come to you for advice. What they can’t think on their own?”

“Actually, for a lot of us, thinking on our own is what we’re learning to do.”

“You’re learning to think on your own? Who don’t know how to do that?”

“You’d be surprised, Esco. When you don’t know who you really are, you live according to the authority of others.” I laughed thinking about my own past identify crisis. “You of all people should know that.”

“Why should I know?”

“Because you’re a Crip and have to follow whatever your OG says,” I answered.

He climbed down the latter at the end of the bed, ready to debate. “Everybody falls under the authority of somebody.  You follow the authority of these CO’s when they tell you to stand for the count,” he fired back.

“They don’t have to tell me to stand for count.”

“That’s because you’re already standing.”

“Exactly, under my own authority,” I said laying back on my bed with my hands behind my head, cradled by my pillow.

“Aren’t your followers under your authority?”

“My followers?”

“Yeah, Twin, Paradise, O, Tone, Javi and all those guys in and out of here all day asking you what to do, how to do it, and they listen because you think you’re smart from reading all those books.”

“It’s not that I think I’m smart, they trust me to give them positive advice.”

“Why don’t they ask me?” he wondered pulling his chair up along the side of my bed.

“Probably because we view things from a different perspective.”

“How’s that?”

“Esco, you’re still relatively young, trying to prove yourself in an attempt to figure out who you are.”

“Prove myself! I know how I give it up!! Ask about me! My name rings bells out in the streets!”

“I never heard of you!” I said shaking my head flashing a grin.

“That’s because you been locked up for so long! Call out on the streets and you’ll see. I bang! It’s what I do!”

“But what does it get you?”

“Respect!”

Squinting my eyebrows together I asked, “Banging gets you respect?  What are you banging for?” sitting up from my laid back position, giving him my full attention.

“For my set, my block! It’s what I do! I wasn’t a pretty boy, getting money type like you Eddie.  They call it gang banging because I bang!” he emphasized all hyped up, pounding his fist in his chest like a silverback gorilla.

“And all that banging is causing you those problems out in the streets.”

“What problems?  I’m good in my hood.”

“Esco, you sit here every night and day telling me your war stories against the Latin Kings and the Bloods.”

“Cause I give it up on those mother fuckers!”

“And they give it up on you!  The Bloods ran up on your girlfriend’s car and shot you in the leg.  The Latin Kings, shot up your baby mother’s house, thinking you were there.  Your son could have got hit.”

“That’s because they’re scared of me and know I’m a threat!”  He defended, raising up out of his chair, walking over to the cell door to stare at himself in the six magnetic mirrors I have on the door.

“Who’s scared of you?”

“They’re all scared of me!” he said, looking back over his shoulder, nodding his head.

“They’re not scared of you, simply because they’re banging on you and although you’ve gotten away, they killed your cousin Russ on his 21st birthday.”

“That wasn’t my fault!”

“I’m not saying it’s your fault, Esco. It’s a consequence of the lifestyle you’re choosing to live.”

“But he wasn’t banging, he was just with me all the time.”

“And somebody banged on him, for what?? Your set? The block?  Does it mean that much?”  I asked, leaving him silent for a few seconds, which is a difficult thing to do.

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The Clock is Ticking

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My daughter Nia, is in her 2nd month of high school and with all the worries of drugs, drinking, and of course these no good boys….there’s another internal clock of worry ticking in my mind, one that the parents of past generations didn’t have to fathom…..the possibility of our child’s school being next in line for a mass shooting.
Last year taught us it’s not “if” there’s going to be another school shooting, but “when”.

To have to tell my 13-year-old daughter, to jump out the nearest window should she ever hear gunshots, even if she’s on the second floor, isn’t me being irrational. What’s irrational is that nothing has been done to curb the chances of it happening again. No new laws passed, no ban on automatic weapons, as a matter of fact, I haven’t heard either political party really mentioning school shootings or gun control recently and I’m an avid a.m. talk radio listener.

With the constant bombardment of breaking news, having distraction after distraction, the slaughter of our children at schools seems to be thought of like something from the past. But that alarm clocks going to rings off and the next mentally disturbed kid with easy access to an AR-15 is going to remind us that we got caught sleeping.

It’s unfortunate that the time is coming, all I can do is pray it’s not at my daughter’s school and then rest the clock since it’s bound to happen again. Tick Tock!

Let that be a reason for you to get out and VOTE!

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Excerpt, Evolution of a Gangster Turned Guru: Chapel

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“Worry stems from a degree of fear, which is difficult to overcome because it’s how most of us are conditioned to think.”

“Conditioned to think?”  Carlos said, standing up walking over to the C.D. player and lowering the volume. “I don’t know how you were taught to think,” he said walking back over to his chair, “but I’m not conditioned or trained to think any type of way.”  Shaking his head, sitting back down.

“How did we go from praying and the spirits to how we think?” Jose asked.

“Because thinking is praying,” Paradise answered.

“Exactly!” I said, “You’re expressing your thoughts, activating the laws to attract the effect.”

“So you’re saying God has nothing to do with it?” Jose asked.

“God has everything to do with it,” I said, “because, it’s God’s law, but you’re not praying to God, you’re using the laws already established.   This is why it’s as if some people’s prayers are answered and others aren’t.  Some people know how to direct the energy using the law, depending on God’s law to bring about the result, some do it very consciously and have a strong faith and some do it unconsciously without understanding the process.”

“So what do you believe? In these laws or God and the spirits?” Jose asked, pulling his chair closer.

All eyes fell on me.

I paused again for a moment, “I understand that there is an all-wise, intelligent, all-knowing powerful Creator,” I began, “Call it God, spirits, the Universe or call it our higher power, it’s all part of us and we are part of it.”

“Now you’re part of God?” Paradise asked.

“Yes,” I said looking him dead in the face, “and so are you.  Many of the mainstream religions teach that we’re separated from God or the source of all life but that’s not true.”

“How do you know?” Carlos challenged.

“Because it doesn’t make sense.”

“Why not?”

“Because a God of love wouldn’t want to be separated from her greatest creation.”

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Excerpt, The Evolution of a Gangster Turned Guru: Canaan

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“When I finished studying a book, I would normally pass it along to Paradise, who never held back on giving me his point of view of what I gave him to read and today was no different.  Walking in my cell, putting the gray chair over the toilet bowl to take a seat, Paradise announced, “I can’t accept all this law of attraction, God is love bull shit!”

“Why not?”

“Because there’s no way that I attracted this life sentence.”

“And yet you’re here with the life sentence,” I said, placing the red velvet material attached to the spine like a bookmarker between the pages of the Veda, a Hindu religious teaching, then stood up to refresh my coffee. “You want a cup?” I offered.

“No, I want to understand how you could accept this delusional theory,” he challenged.

“I honestly looked at my life, the way I thought and my actions.  When I did that, it really wasn’t that hard to see,” I admitted while scooping a tablespoon of dark crystals from the yellow and brown bag of Kaffe instant coffee into my mug.

“Unconsciously or consciously, I would never choose this for myself.”

“Again Paradise, yet your here.  But I had that same struggle when learning about life’s process and the laws of attraction.  You want to know when it all started to make sense.”

“When?”

“Once I was honest with myself and took responsibility for my actions, instead of using the blame game as justification.”

Leaning back in the chair, interlocking his fingers behind his head he said, “So you don’t blame the rats on your case, the agent or the Judge that gave you 45 years?”

“No, I blame the lifestyle I choose to live and the way I used to think.  I’ve learned the power of my thoughts.”

“With the laws of attraction and all your universal principals’ bull shit?”

“Yes, and I had to change my thoughts in order to change the conditions of my life.”

“But your life isn’t changed, your still here in prison, locked up with me.”

I turned on the hot water letting it run until the steam fogged up the bottom of the wall mirror, then filled my coffee mug half way and explained, “I’m at peace from creating an inner freedom that ultimately reflexes my outer conditions.”

“Please Eddie,” he said, with an underlying laugh quickly standing up to put the chair back next to the bed. “I know a better way to change my conditions right now.”

“How’s that?”

“By getting the hell away from you,” he said and walked out the cell door.”

Excerpt, The Evolution of a Gangster Turned Guru: The Resurrection

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Everything I learned, revealed divine consciousness is God dwelling within and outside of us.  The good and the bad, the hot and the cold, all of it is God.  By putting things in that context, I didn’t have to know and understand everything. I was working on living with more trust and appreciation of the process by allowing moments to unfold.

I heard a story on the news which helped me stay grateful for all that I had and kept life in the proper perspective.

A young mother had just left church on Easter Sunday, in the Bronx with her family and had her young baby boy less than two years old, strapped in his car seat.

A stray bullet traveled through the back door, killing her son.

Situations like this used to be my justification for why there can’t be a God.  On what level did the Universal laws get activated to bring that experience about?  I believe God is in control. But hearing stories like that at times – wasn’t convincing.

Nia, my youngest child, was close to that same age when the story broke.  I couldn’t imagine the suffering that the family was experiencing.  I wanted that child’s life to not be a random act of violence.  I used that incident to realize how blessed I am to be able to see my daughters every week, kissing and holding them in my arms, even if it’s only for an hour in the crowded visiting room.

I’m sure that the child’s mother would change situations with me, no hesitation involved, happy to be facing 45 years, as long as her baby boy was alive.  I decided then on that I would never complain about being in prison.  I’ve experienced how important the right attitude was dealing with difficult situations that were ultimately based on your perception and faith.

“If only someone would have explained to me then, what I’ve now come to learn,” I thought, looking out on the unit, seeing impressions of myself at earlier stages in life when I had a gangster mentality, convinced I knew it all.

EXCERPT: The Evolution of a Gangster Turned Guru: The Real O.G.

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“”I’ve condemned myself to hell on earth,” I thought.

Not only am I indicted for a drug conspiracy, but I was under investigation for extortion, a string of burglaries and armed robberies connected to a crooked Suffolk County cop, a group of shady lawyers and one of the Mafia’s five organized crime families.

When Erick Sermon went head first out a fourth-floor window, I was the first person called.   My crew had a reputation to dish out street justice.  There was no aspect of this gangster lifestyle I didn’t participate in.

That first year of incarceration, was one dramatic court hearing after another.  Each taking a toll on my mother. When she learned that my friends were cooperating with the government against me, she took matters into her own hands.

Mom walked quietly but carried a big stick.

My mother had a reputation of her own in the streets.

The district attorney learned that Mamma Wright was in Gestapo mode and brought it to the judge’s attention at the end of my hearing.

“Your honor, there’s one last issue I would like to address, concerning the defendant’s mother,” the prosecutor said pointing to my mother in the courtroom.

John, turned around with raised eyebrows, looking at my mom who smiled, shrugged her shoulders, listening to what was said.

“What’s your concern?” the Judge asked.

“We’ve received information that Mrs. Wright has confronted a number of potential witnesses and we would ask the Court to advise her to stop.  She’s attempting to obstruct justice.”

My mother kept smiling.

Then the Judge addressed her directly, “Mrs. Wright, although the Court does understand a mother’s love for her son, please cease contact with witnesses involved in this case.  Interfering with a federal investigation is a serious crime. Please allow your sons’ lawyer, who I’m sure has a licensed investigator, address any issues that have any significance to this case.”

“O.k.,” my mother said, nodding her head, still smiling at me as I was lead out of the courtroom.

That evening, I was unexpectedly called down for a legal visit.”

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