My ways and actions, choices, and decisions reflect the degree to which I’ve related to the One Source of life. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less. I’ll be the first to admit that Eddie Wright has expressed some very ungodly behaviors in my past.
But yet and still, the connection with the One Source of life does not change. What has changed is my understanding of the only power in the Universe, God.
But God means different things to different people and that can cause confusion or even worse the illusion of separation between one another.
The “them versus us” mentality is so indoctrinated in cultural conditioning that it’s easy to buy into this delusion of division. Turn on the television. Read the newspaper. It’s abundantly clear that there is a dire disconnect in society on a variety of levels.
The promotion of division could be discouraging when one has the inner realization of the unity of the energy of love while living in a prison environment amongst a majority that doesn’t. But this awareness produces a poise that keeps me motivated to share my spiritual experience through the conversations I have and the books that I write.
Most importantly I’ve recognized that how I live my everyday life, especially in the way I conduct myself, reflects the God/Guru relationship.
I’ll share a morning cup of coffee with ‘Country’. Our bald heads appear to be the only similarity. He has White Pride tattooed across his back and a black swastika inked on his forehead.
An hour later, you might find me in the recreation yard doing burpees with Khalid, whose thick black beard, ankle-high pants, and dark brown nickel-size callus from his five daily prayers are centered on his forehead.
I’m able to have enlightening spiritual conversations with them both, regardless of their differences and beliefs. I don’t allow outer appearances to distort me from the essence of what we share.
My abstract method of rationalizing life through the Universal laws and how they operate allows me to be open-minded, non-judgmental, and objective about this reality. I can have my individual point of view while respecting a different perspective from another whose race, religion, or political affiliation may not be the same as mine.
No matter how radical or off-the-wall one’s attitude may appear to be to me, I don’t get distracted from the Source that connects us.
Staying grounded in unity helps to achieve more positive consequences than disunity. That’s reasoning enough for me to recommend giving the view from Oneness of life we share a try.
Currently I’m in the Challenge Program, a modified therapeutic community that addresses drug and criminal thinking errors, here at USP Canaan. One of the requirements is actively participating with presenting personal seminars that are given on Tuesdays and Thursdays, after our initial morning meetings.
It’s difficult to stand up in front of roughly 100 fellow individuals and share intimate details of your life, especially in this environment of a level 7 maximum security penitentiary. The super tough ego persona is on steroids with a majority of the population, and although it’s toned down a few degrees in this “program unit”, the under current of the ‘convict code’ still has a vital presence.
So I understood why after handing in my brief summary for my first seminar to the treatment specialist for approval, I was called into her office because she has some concerns.
“Mr. Wright, you’re choosing to do your seminar on open-mindedness,” said Mrs. Cook, who’s about 4’8 in height, with short cropped blond hair and tattoos from her hands running up both arms with artwork representing a Buddhist types of philosophy, “and you struggled with open-mindedness when it pertained to accepting that your son is gay.”
I nodded my head as she continued, “I think the topic is great. I’m just concerned about,” she took a two second pause to find the right words, “your delivery because I don’t want you offending certain people,” she explained with raised eyebrows.
Of course I knew she was alluding to the homosexual activities that are prevalent in prison. “You don’t have to worry about anything Mrs. Cook,” I assured her, “I know to keep the discussion on me with ‘I statements’.”
“But are you sure you’re comfortable revealing that your son is gay? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s honorable and courageous and you would think grown men would be able to…”
“Listen, Mrs. Cook,” I injected, “I know how to speak about this topic without offending anyone. I’m not ashamed of having a gay son. I published a memoir about our relationship. Trust me on this, you have nothing to worry about.”
She gave an elongated blink and slowly said “All right Wright,” as I turned and walked out of her office.
The fact that the treatment specialist felt she had to discuss her concerns with me revealing that I have a gay son was confirmation of how important bringing this taboo topic to light is. Fathers accepting and loving unconditionally their sons or daughters who are in the LGBTQ plus community is a critical element of being a good parent.
A fathers recognition of acceptance forms and shapes how the child values themselves. Being valued is essential to a child’s healthy mental growth and development. So I was invigorated approaching the microphone as this would be my first time speaking to an audience about how I became open-minded with accepting my son.
I can confidently say you really can’t get a tougher crowd then individuals with double digit football numbers and multiple life sentences.
When I spoke, I admitted that at times it was as if my son was raising me. Although it was a struggle, he taught me, sometimes forcing me to be open-minded and learn to truly love unconditionally.
When I finished my seminar, the process is to ask for ‘feed back’ from at least 3 members of the audience. More than 7 people quickly stood up and shared various experiences of family members and friends. But it was later that day when a few different fathers approached me privately with concerns about how they should navigate their relationships with their gay sons.
I acknowledged their fears and concerns while bringing to light that the issue isn’t that their child lives a LGBTQ plus lifestyle, the real question they must ask themselves is what type of fathers are they choosing to be?
He was 5 years old when he killed his 2 year old sister, after finding a loaded shotgun behind their mothers bedroom door while playing cowboys and Indians.
Too often we hear or read in the news of children accidently killing other children and we may emphasize for 30 seconds or even a full minute of our time, but the impact of such a grave tragedy is most often disregarded.
Forty years of guilt and pain that this 5 year old carried was only ever eased with the use of alcohol and drugs. This mythology only increased his number of bad choices, which lead him to where he is now, USP Canaan, participating in the Challenge program, giving a seminar on how he finally learned to forgive himself for the devastating mistake he made as a child.
We project out ideas of ourselves in our personalities which are formed at such a young age that I truly empathized with his struggle. I could hear how much he’s suffered through life. That he finally came to the place where he’s found peace within himself is a good thing. The fact that he’s working to help others find peace within themselves through learning how to forgive is even better.
I’m a mentor in this Challenge program, which didn’t surprise anyone since I’m already known as the gangster turned Guru. My door is always open for positive spiritual advice and explaining the power of forgiveness is one of the re-occurring lessons that I share.
I’ve found that a lot of people have difficulties forgiving themselves because they don’t think that God would forgive them.
“I’ve committed a mortal sin!,” is frequently the type of rationale used to live in this eternal bondage of self-condemnation.
“God’s not worried about your little transgressions,” I often remark. My dignified, unconcerned way of disregarding the idea of this oppressive, tyrannical concept of God has resulted in a diverse number of reactions, that normally navigate the conversation towards explaining the unconditional love of God and logically making the segue to us all being worthy of divine forgiveness.
I’m not talking with guys that didn’t pay their taxes or may have robbed a local liquor store.
USP Canaan is a level 7 maximum penitentiary. This means that there is a maximum amount of God’s spiritual beings that have yet to recognize the essence of who they truly are.
To live that recognition is to be able to forgive. When you learn to forgive yourself, the burden of suffering is lifted off your shoulders.
Jesus clearly taught the healing power of forgiveness, explaining that we should forgive seventy times seven. That’s basically saying God’s unconditional love includes forgiveness, eternally available to us all, if we allow God’s love in our hearts.
My name is Eddie Wright. In 2004, I was charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute 50 grams of crack cocaine, under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which created a disparity between crack and powder cocaine, commonly referred to as the 100 to 1 crack law.
Under this law, a person charged with having 5,000 grams of powder cocaine would face a 10 year mandatory minimum; a person, such as myself, charged with possession of a mere 50 grams of crack cocaine, faces the same obligatory mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
No class of drug is as racially bias as crack in terms of numbers of offenses. In 2009, 79 percent of 5,669 sentence crack offenders were black, versus 10 percent who were white and 10 percent who were Hispanic. Of the 6,020 powder cocaine cases: 17 percent were white offenders, 28 percent were black and 53 percent were Hispanic.
One would think this crack disparity law was drafted by Jim Crow himself.
In 2010, Congress attempted to eliminate the crack and powder cocaine disparity, but instead compromised with the 18 to 1 disparity law in the Fair Sentencing Act. The name in itself acknowledges that the crack disparity law is unfair, but still with 18 to 1 it’s just less unfair.
I was given what’s called an 851 enhancement, due to having a previous drug conviction for which I was sentenced to 90 days when I was 18 years old. The 851 enhancement, predicated on a 90 day sentence when I was 18 years old, doubled my mandatory minimum crack law from 10 to 20 years. Ultimately I was sentenced to 45 years for a non-violent federal drug offence.
In Norway, in 20011 Anders Behring Breivik, killed 77 people with gun and bomb attacks. He killed 8 people with the bomb. The other 69 human beings were mostly teenagers that he shot and killed at a summer camp.
He was sentenced to the maximum of 21 years.
This contrast stood out to me, not only because of his maximum sentence of 21 years, but because he was recently denied parole. I have over 17 years in prison for a non-violent federal drug offence in America and don’t even have an opportunity for parole, it no longer exist.
Still, I accepted full responsibility for my actions. I was immature, narrow-minded and participated in a destructive criminal lifestyle. I recognize the negative affect my choices had on my community, but more importantly the devastating impact my actions had on my family. When I got sentenced to 45 years, my mother, sister, wife, children and the rest of my family got sentenced also. Their unconditional love and support inspired me to change the way I choose to live my life.
The first step on this journey was to remain drug and alcohol free. I’ve been sober for over 16 years. Next, came my most important step which was establishing a personal relationship with my higher power. With God, I had the strength and fortitude to right my wrongs and make amends for the hurt and pain I’ve caused myself, my family and society.
In 2008, upon arriving at USP Canaan, I began to teach physical fitness, wellness and Yoga classes. This is at one of the most violent penitentiaries in America and I’ve taught these classes every morning of the week for over a decade. I’m the head of my spiritual group, where I speak at our weekly meetings in the chapel. I’ve earned over 70 certificates for my participation in programs. I’m currently in the final phase of the Challenge program which is a modified therapeutic community that addresses drug abuse and criminal thinking errors. I’m already a mentor in this program, a position a selected few are normally given after you graduate.
I’ve written over 12 books, two of which have been published, making me an Amazon best selling author. I write spiritual self-help books as a way to help others find healing, peace, and happiness. I’m the first father to publish a memoir of how I came to accept and love my son unconditionally as a member of the LGBTQ community. This has been one of my proudest achievements, not only because this helped heal our relationship, but I’ve been contacted by others who were helped through the sharing of our experience.
I teach classes on creative writing, public speaking and business economics. My focus has been to do all I can to to better myself, while helping others better themselves. This has given my life meaning and purpose.
My plans upon my release is to continue to give back to my community and be a productive member of society, by visiting schools, youth at risk programs, and group homes with the goal of deterring others from making the same mistakes I did.
Currently, there is a bipartisan bill waiting on a vote in the Senate called The Equal Act,(Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law) that would do what it’s name states, eliminate the disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
I believe in speaking things into existence and acting as if it’s already done. So when this Equal Act passes into law, I will be filing a motion for a sentence reduction to time served.
Due to Covid restrictions the prison has been on modified lock down. I haven’t been able to give my children a hug or my mother a kiss for over two years. I feel that the more than 17 years of incarceration I’ve served is an excessive amount of time for a non-violent drug offense.
I’m a changed and fully rehabilitated man, who is humbling asking for you to please sign this petition to reduce my sentence to time served.
In his later, teenage wild out years, I couldn’t and didn’t want to risk my out spoken, take no shit,quick to throw a snap back to anyone that dares to make a disrespectful under the breath comment about his lifestyle.
He proudly defends his crown of me labeling him the gayest man on earth.
So for him to come to visit me at Canaan, one of the most violent penitentiaries in America, wasn’t a good idea fora number of different reasons at that time.
Our weekly phone calls would have to do.
Christmas 2018 happened to fall on a Tuesday this year, when I get my visits here at MDC Brooklyn where I’m still waiting to hear the outcome of my appeal.
My son, along with his sister Nia and my mother were coming to visit.
In our recent phone conversations, I asked him not to get too emotional with the tears.
Drew of course, sticking to his true form, denied my request.
“I’m just a very emotional person and I won’t be able to hold it back,” said with a flamboyancy I had no choice but to accept.
Walking through the visiting room door, a surprised lump caught my throat as I laid eyes on my son, looking like he stepped off the cover of the GQ magazine.
While he kept his cool, it was I that was struggling to hold back the flood of tears as we embraced and I gave my son a kiss.
The time flew by and after another strong hug and kiss goodbye, I gave the same to my mother and daughter, then doubled back for a third hug and kiss, thanking Drew for this incredible gift to end the year with.
The wailing moan of grief and distress from the phone receiver gouged at my heart.
Weeping tears, sobs of sorrow while gasping from breath between the utterances of half spoken words, making no sense at all, caused my mind to kick into over-drive of worse case scenarios.
“Is my mother all right?” I asked.
No cognitive answer, more groaning and sniffles.
“Sweetheart, calm down, take a deep breath and tell dad what’s wrong.”
Between another fit of whimpering she managed to utter, ” I just don’t know what to do!!”
Followed by a renewed lamentation of bawling tears.
“Do about what, Honey?” I asked, struggling to keep a comforting tone, attempting to suppress the dramatic thoughts racing through my mind. “Please!” I begged to my 14 year old daughter Nia, “Just tell me what’s happen,” triggering another ten minute bout of groaning moans of sobs, giving way to an additional round of tears and sniffles.
Finally she took the deep controlled breath and announced the cause of this dismal condition, “Blake moved out of state and I didn’t get to say good bye!” she cried and the water works continued.
Blake the Snake.
That’s what I called my daughters first little boyfriend.
He reminded me too much of myself and that isn’t always a good thing.
Now just like me when I kept getting in trouble in school, he got sent to another state until he got his act together.
I can’t lie…there was that side of me that was ecstatic!!
Blake’s little ass was finally outta here!!
But I kept that to myself, knowing what we adults call puppy love is as real as it gets to my daughter and her broken heart.
So in comforting daddy mode, I assured her it will be all right, allowed her to cry all she wanted, related to her hurt and pain and attempted to sooth her sadness.
I’m glad she knows that she can always cry to me and that no matter what she will forever be daddies little girl.
“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.”
“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.”
“Because a God of love wouldn’t want to be separated from her greatest creation.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“By getting the hell away from you,” he said and walked out the cell door.”
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.