Gangster Turned Guru Presents: Chapter Excerpt: Killer Canaan

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“…I laid back down in my bed, put on my headphones to catch the local radio station news, when I heard “United States Penitentiary Canaan, is locked down due to the murder of office Erick Wilkins, by an inmate in the unit he was assigned to.”

“Oh shit P-Lee!” I shouted, shooting up out of the bed and snapping on the light.

“Yo! What’s up man?” raising from under the blanket, eyes squinting from the sudden brightness.

“We’re locked down because they killed a CO last night.”

“Get the fuck out of here, Eddie.”

“I just heard them announce it on the local news,” I said, walking over to the cell door to look out on the unit, “And the TV’s are turned off.”

“Oh shit, they’re about to put us through it.  They killed a fucking officer,” P-Lee said, shaking his head while climbing down the latter.

“I’m glad my mother brought the girls to visit last weekend because we’re about to be on lockdown for months,” I said, walking over to my locker and pulling out my bag of commissary to do a quick inventory assessment, preparing to ration out my personal food for the duration of this ordeal.

An hour later, the main unit door slammed shut and I heard the jiggling keys of the officers.  I walked over to the door and saw them loading cardboard boxes on the pushcart.

“Food trays are up P-Lee.”

“Good, I’m starving.”

Two officers were feeding the unit, coming to each cell door, unlocking the food slots and shoving in the two brown cardboard meal boxes, along with two cartons of milk.  This type of meal wouldn’t sustain a kindergartner, let along two grown men.  Watching the officers as they approached, I saw the anguish on their strained screw faces.

Rumor on prisoner.com said that allegedly, four officers that work on the compound were ordered by the shift lieutenant, to shake down an inmate named Jessie’s cell, which is a standard procedure normally done by the one officer working the unit.  For some reason, the shift Lieutenant, nicknamed “Big Show,” because he looked just like the professional wrestler, tall, overweight, bald with a thick mustache, directed the four compound officers to rip this particular cell apart, and they did.”

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Gangster Turned Guru Presents: Chapter Excerpt: Love Sick

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“Unable to disguise the impact of Maria’s news when I walked in the unit, my friend Twin, wasn’t far behind me after I went into my cell to sulk.  Twin’s called my bigger little brother, who’s been my work out partner since he arrived at Canaan from Lewisburg about a week after I did.  At 5’9, he was tipping the scale at 260 pounds back then, but after a few months of working out hard together six days a week, he dropped down to 215 pounds.  Although he still struggled with a sweet tooth, that he’s had since childhood, like the blue cookie monster from Sesame Street, he’s one of the few people that survive my militant boot camp style encouragement to make it through some very tough workouts.

Twin grew up in Pittsburg P.A., and in 2002, got sentenced to 20 years for possession of a few dime bags of crack cocaine.  Before going to the gym each morning, we spend about 10-15 minutes having positive spiritual talks to start the day off with the right attitude.

When I began writing, Twin was the first one I would read my chapters out loud to and I trusted him with my first rounds of edits, which helped him gain a clearer insight by carefully reading what I wrote.  We always look out for each other’s best interest in all situations.

“YO!” he said, walking in without knocking, finding me already under my covers with the blanket pulled over my head.

“Yooooooooo!” I moaned.

“What’s wrong?  How was the visit?” he asked.

Peeking out from under the covers, teary-eyed, letting out a deep sigh, I said, “Maria has left the building! She’s had enough.”

“Enough of what?”

“Of this, doing the bid,” I explained.

“She’s leaving you?”

“She’s left. It’s done. Over. I could see it in her eyes.”

Shaking his head, pulling up the chair and sitting down, both of us quiet for a couple of seconds, he then asked, “What about your daughters?”

“My mother will bring them,” I answered slowly climbing out from under the covers still fully dressed.

“Eddie, you already know what it is.  It’s not ‘if’ they’re going to leave, it’s ‘when’ they’re going to leave.”  Twin repeated his mantra, stemming from his own broken heart.

“Nah, I know. I’ve been here before. It’s part of doing time.”

I was hurt, mad, angry, not eating, hardly sleeping and foreboding locking in at night when all I could do was lie in bed with excruciating images of Maria in the arms of another man, agonizing my aching heart.  It was the first time I felt vulnerable to slipping back into my gangster ways.  There were moments I felt like exploding, but didn’t and maintained my self-control.

After a month immersed with these tormenting thoughts and images, I realized more than ever that I needed to continue to practice what I’ve been preaching by consciously staying in control of what I thought about.   Once I caught my self-thinking negatively or feeling sorry for myself, I’d find an activity to take my attention to something positive.  Normally it was working out, which I was doing three or four times a day for at least an hour and a half each period.  I was writing more and at night I always had two or three books on the table next to my bed to read myself to sleep.  I brought a book light so I could read without disturbing my celli, which helped me to quickly fall back to sleep.

I choose to be patient with myself, knowing from prior experiences that the hurt and pain of a broken heart would heal in time.  By continuing to be kind, friendly, helpful and honest, I attracted the same to my experience when I most needed it.”

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.

#gangsterturnedgurupresents

#eddiekwright

#respect

 

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!

#gangsterturnedgurupresents

#voiceforthesilentfathers

#eddiekwright

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.”

#gangsterturnedgurupresents

#eddiekwright

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.