Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Writing my Wrongs

"Writing My Wrongs" by Shaka Senghor

I will admit this book is a little tough to get through.  It has a lot of cussing and explicit examples of what happens in prison.  Yet, it is a good book to understand about growing up on the streets, prison, and re-entry after prison.  It is an amazing story of how some choose to make something of themselves and help others, while others can't break the cycle.  "I was tired of being hurt and confused by two people I loved more than anything in the world."  Childhood is when most of our prison inmates have experienced the abuse that leads them to the streets and the crimes that they commit.  "I had never thought about the fact that by getting locked up, I was also imprisoning everyone who loved or cared about me."  Our actions and choices affect so many around us and yet in the moment we only think of ourselves.  "We weren't bad people, but we had made some very bad decisions that were shaped by the bad things we had experienced.  We were fathers, brothers, uncles, drug dealers, robbers, and killers.  And we weren't any one of those things by itself-what we were was a mixture of failure, neglect, promise, and purpose."  I think that we forget that our inmates are people, people who have made bad choices yes, but also people who have been badly hurt themselves.  "I had helped to bring a new life into the world-but now I was taking my life out of it."  He had made a choice that landed him in prison, a choice that took him out of his child's life.  "My crime was no badge of honor in my son's eyes-it was a scarlet letter that signified how badly I had failed him and the other young Black males in my neighborhood, many of whom would die or spend their lives in prison for trying to emulate me."  And this brought about the change in him, realizing that he needed to do better by his son and help others that were like him choose a better life.  "It had taken me years to realize that no one goes to prison alone; my imprisonment had impacted my family as though they were sitting in the cell with me." "That's why I'm asking you to envision a world where men and women aren't held hostage to their pasts, where misdeeds and mistakes don't define you for the rest of your life.  In an era of record incarcerations and a culture of violence, we can learn to love those who no longer love themselves.  Together, we can begin to make things right."   

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