It’s Ok To Be Different

I’ve been evaluating my life, my choices, and what lead me to where I am today. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that many of my choices were poor ones. Especially when it came to relationships.

There seems to be a constant theme of being misunderstood and the tendency to blame myself for it.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

However, what I’ve discovered is that there has been way too many times in my life I’ve assumed responsibility for things that had nothing to do with me.

The burden of being “different” carried a stigma throughout my life. I have walked around thinking I was the worst person on earth based on other people’s words and opinions.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, people misinterpret my pure intentions as having some underlying agenda. It appears that people can’t seem to figure me out. They can’t grasp that I’m actually a real and genuine person, who loves to give and does not expect anything in return.

Unfortunately, there are those, for whatever reason, perhaps it’s their background or what they’ve been exposed to in their life, that often misconstrue my genuine intentions. They are unable to see me for who I am. They project whatever it is they’ve gone through with other people on to me. They are unable to see my heart, and value as a human being. Their inner filter is tainted by their own negative experiences, that they are unable to see properly.

Since when did being different, unique, real, genuine or good become a crime?

For those of you reading this, I’m not fake. I am who I say I am. I am a real and genuine person. I don’t do things for others expecting anything in return. There is no underlying or hidden agenda with me. What you see, is what you get.

It’s a sad commentary at this stage of my life, I still feel the need to explain myself.

This is the reason why I’ve gotten so selective in whom I allow in my inner circle. I have learned that you have to choose wisely, because not everyone has your best interest in mind. Nor is everyone going to be able to value and appreciate who you are. Some people lack vision based on their own hangups which has nothing to do with you.

It’s important to choose your associations carefully. If you are around people who constantly bring you down, criticize or judge you, talk behind your back, create unnecessary drama, and falsely accuse you, it’s best to keep it moving. There is no reason to be around people who will not encourage or bring out the best in you.

Don’t waste your time, energy and precious life on anyone who doesn’t value, accept and appreciate you. It’s better to have one true and good friend, than many who smile in your face and stab you in your back. This includes family too.

Have you been misunderstood or falsely accused in your life? How did you handle it?

Tropical Illusions by John Bowens

ISBN-13: 9780985330309
Publisher: Step Ya Game Up
Publication date: 4/20/2012
Pages: 264
Price: $15.00
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Tasia and Jeff are in a monogamous relationship and they share a bond befitting that of a fairy tale. Misfortune befalls them when two things happen. First, Jeff is seduced by a stripper named Tropical, and what begins as a protected sexual escapade ends as a harsh reality when Jeff learns that the condom broke during intercourse.

Next, Jeff is accused of murder, and he finds himself trapped in an unforgiving system, figuratively and sometimes literally, fighting for his life.
The drama unfolds when Jeff is diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and he’s forced to break this life changing news to the love of his life. Unfortunately, Tasia has no understanding. Instead of getting tested, she automatically assumes that she’s infected with the deadly disease. Out of hatred and anger, Tasia concludes that all men are dogs…and she vows to share her newly acquired fortune with as many men as possible.

Review

It’s been a while since I have reviewed a book, but Tropical Illusions by John Bowens was one I could not pass up. I have to be honest and say, that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. I read the description and was on the fence about wanting to read anything about HIV or AIDs. However, I’m so glad I did, because Tropical Illusions taught me a lot.

I believe this story is vital and needs to get into hands of the youth. Tropical Illusions articulated a variety of life lessons, the greatest one being, the dire and fatal consequence of engaging in unprotected sex.

Let me tell you, if you or anyone you know is having unprotected sex, this book will scare the living daylights out of you. I can assure that after you read Tropical Illusions, you won’t have unprotected sex again.

Tropical Illusions was written as fiction, however, it felt real to me. It is the type of book that you can’t put down. You want to keep reading to find out what will happen next. The characters were palatable, the story was raw and explosive. Bowens did an excellent job as I was able to visualize and feel everything as if I was there.

I highly recommend Tropical Illusions, as it has an important and life saving message. I believe it needs to be read by as many people as possible, especially the youth.

After being sentenced to 19 years to be served in federal prison, John Bowens utilized his time by furthering his education. During his incarceration he lost a friend to HIV/AIDS which prompted him to begin writing. He was born and raised in NYC but currently resides in Charlotte, NC where he is an advocate encouraging others to join the fight against HIV and AIDS as well as the fight against illiteracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Your Mind

Happy New Year! I started my new year with a bang. I posted a question on social media and little did I know it was going to spark such contraversy.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

One thing I’ve learned through the years is to keep an open mind. If not, you will always be stuck in your own way of thinking and never know the truth.

Lately, there has been so much controversy and it’s been spilling into everything and causing division. It certainly wasn’t my intention to cause more. I was only asking a question and unfortunately, it spiraled into something else.

Which provoked me to write this:

It seems we all have different life experiences and truths. White people have their truths based on their own life experiences. But so do Blacks and Latinos. I am white, but by the grace of God, I am able to go outside of it and listen to others who do not share in my experiences. I allow myself to learn and hear other people’s points of view and experiences. I am not rigid, nor do not walk around thinking or acting like I know it all either. Because I do not. I have not walked a mile in another person’s shoes to know what life is like for them. We must try to keep an open mind in life.

People seem to translate everything into an “us versus them” mentality. But this shouldn’t be, because it’s a much broader and deeper issue than that.

We are all going to have different views and opinions. Some will be based on life experiences, and others on education. But either way, it will be different. Which is why we must free our minds and allow ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and understand other people’s reality.

For instance, a white person’s experience in life is going to be way different than Black’s or Latinos. White people tend to mention Blacks and Latinos use the “race card” too much. But I beg to differ. As they truly live a different experience than white people. White people don’t know anything about this because they have never experienced it for themselves.

The reason why I know about it, is because I am fortunate to have many Black and Latino friends. I’ll even take it a step further, I married into a Black and Latino family. So I’m privy to a lot of things that ordinary white people are not aware of.

I try my best to communicate, impart and share information to educate and open the minds up of those who refuse to see beyond the scope of their own understanding or experience.

No, I do no subscribe to the fact that all cops are bad. However, I’m also not walking around believing that they are all good either. The fact of the matter is, there are a multitude of corrupt cops. Some people have a hard time believing this and get defensive. But if they would only stop and do some research, they will see this truth for themselves.

The fact is we live in a fallen world. Human beings are susceptible to various temptations. There are no perfect people walking around who are exempt from committing crimes or acts of corruption. The Bible says, we have a sin nature and it’s very easy to fall prey to things. Which is why I’m a big advocate for not judging people.

My hope is that we can respectfully agree to disagree, and try to keep an open mind in life. My life is not going to be like someone else’s life or vice versa.

For instance, people love to judge drug dealers, making them all out to be the scum of the earth and the cause of why society is the way it is. Again, if they do their research, they will understand that our government is involved in allowing drugs into this country. Drug dealers are not putting a gun to anyone’s head to purchase or consume it. So, to put the entire responsibility on drug dealers is wrong.

Again, I beseech you to keep an open mind. Don’t believe the media or everything you read. Do your research and find out the truth for yourself. Yes, the truth may disappoint you, but wouldn’t you rather know the truth, than believe a lie?

Please don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone to understand another person’s truth, experience and reality.

Are you willing to keep an open mind, step outside of yourself and not subscribe to the herd mentality?

 

No One Is Born A Racist

Recently, our country has been so divided. Racism is alive and well. But no one is born a racist.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Racism is taught and a learned behavior. I am thankful that even though I grew up around it, I did not allow it to influence me. I touched on this in my previous post.

Children are taught to fear other races and cultures that are different from their own. But a child doesn’t know the difference.

Despite being taught to stay within my own demographic, I wasn’t able to. I was attracted and gravitated to the black community early on.

As a child, my family planned trips to Sunken Meadow Park. We would first go to the picnic area and have breakfast. Afterwards, we headed over to the beach area. I loved staying in the water for hours, to the point my hands were wrinkled, and my body, sunburned.

I remember there were a group of black kids playing in the water. They were all laughing and enjoying themselves. They were vivacious, fun and energetic. I was attracted to their vibe, and started playing with them. We all had a blast.

I remember going back to where my family was to get something to drink. I immediately got “shade” and remarks. Call it rebellion, defiance or whatever, I did not fold. I went right back and continued playing with my friends.

This was one of many scenarios I faced growing up amongst those who feared the “other”. I wouldn’t have known the difference between white, black, brown or yellow, if I wasn’t taught or subject to it.

Things went up a notch when I became a teenager, the fear and dread of my dating the black and brown boys was too much for them to handle. They tried setting me up with a boy from Spain, who was smart and had a great future. He was on his way to medical school to become a doctor on full scholarship. The dude digged me, but he wasn’t my type.

My grandmother went and bought a beautiful dress for me to wear to his prom. However, they didn’t ask me if I wanted to go to his prom in the first place. They were forcing me to be with him, to try and distract me from the other boys I liked.

It didn’t work. I refused to go to his prom. My grandmother had no choice but to return the beautiful dress she bought me. She was angry at me. She wanted me to be with this guy in the worst way. But, eventually she came around and understood that I had my own taste in men. Eventually, she embraced my boyfriends.

My heart longs for the day when racism and division ceases. My heart aches for my black brothers and sisters who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the white man. Please know I am standing with you in solidarity and protesting against the injustice.

Do you believe we are not born a racist? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Why I’m Not A Racist

I was born in the late 1960’s to European parents. My parents were pureblooded Spaniards, but for all intents and purposes, acted “white”.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I don’t recall when it was exactly that I was made to feel different, but what I do remember were these comments:

“You must be from another planet.”

“Why do you always have to play with the black kids?

“Don’t you have any friends who are white?”

The crap hit the fan as a teenager, when I decided to date the brown and black boys against my parents will. My parents happen to be like many who grew up in an era of racial ignorance. They were a product of their environment. All I knew was that I didn’t think like they did nor did I want to.

One childhood memory stands out the most. I had a best friend. She was like a sister to me. Forty something years later, we are still friends. I remember hanging out in her house a lot. Her parents loved and embraced me like if I was their own.

Yet, my parents would not permit my friend to enter our house. My girlfriend eventually figured out why and I remembered feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I wanted to bury myself in a hole somewhere. It was the worst feeling in the world and I never forgot it.

I vowed to never have my kids feel this way. My home is open to any race, religion and creed. I am not raising them to be racists or discriminatory toward anyone.

Gratefully, when friends or family come to visit, they feel comfortable, as it should be.

I am not a racist. I love and embrace the African American community. Truthfully, the African American community has always treated me better that my own demographic.

I would love to live in a world where no racism, discrimination, ignorance or injustice existed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t to seem to be happening.

I can’t change people. The only thing I can do, as a white person, is bring awareness and not go along with the status quo, but challenge it.

With the recent current events, I’ve been inclined to speak up in favor of the black community. I am finding that many people want to shut me up. But I will never be silent when it comes to injustice.

Maybe I couldn’t do anything as a child to defend my best friend, but I can now as an adult. I will always speak up and stand up for what’s right. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, feels or says.

Do you go against the grain of what was expected of you regardless of what your family or friends think?

Love, Don’t Judge

I’ll be the first to admit, I am fed up with all the “holier than thou” Christians in this world, who point their fingers at everyone else around them. Do they know what it’s like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Wouldn’t it be better to use their energy and focus on themselves?

I never understood why people gossip and talk negatively about other people behind their back.

Unfortunately, this happens in the Christian community as well, and it’s hypocrisy. Aren’t we suppose to be a light in this world and salt of the earth? (Matthew 5:13)

How is it possible that Christians are tearing each other down?

If you have been following me or my blog for any length of time, you know what I’m about.

I have never been the type to judge other people. I don’t care who they are or what they’ve done. I accept people for who they are. I respect the Word of God, and as I age, I realize I’m no one to point my finger at anyone. I do not care who they are.

The job of a true Christian is to love others.

There was a time I didn’t get this. I didn’t get the importance of loving others. But God in His grandiose, gracious, merciful way, was patient enough with me to allow me to learn this vital lesson.

The lesson happened this year, while I have been in the process of advocating for someone who was wrongfully convicted.

I’ve learned that passing judgement is reserved for God alone. Jesus didn’t die for perfect people. He died for flawed and broken people.

Christians are sinners saved by grace. How dare we think we are better than anyone else.

How can we point our fingers at anyone?

I don’t care if they are murderers, serial killers, rapists or pedophiles. The only way they are going to see Christ in us, is if we stop judging and start loving.

I know this may sound cliché, but love is the force that changes the hardest heart… not judgement. Judging others doesn’t lead to any change.

If you are a Christ follower, the only way to truly reach others for Christ is by loving them.

What do you think is stopping you from loving others?

Author Interview: Umar Quadeer

Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Wahida Clark Presents
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936649071
ISBN-13: 978-1936649075
Price: $15.95
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is an honor to present a new author whom I had the pleasure of reading his most recent book, Enemy Bloodline and thoroughly enjoying it. I wanted to know more about him and he was gracious enough to do an interview with me.

Mr. Quadeer has a fresh voice and is gifted writer. I see great things ahead for this talented young man. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, Umar Quadeer.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I grew up in North Philadelphia. My childhood was fun and adventurous, but dangerous.

2) When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

My father taught me how to write rap songs at 9 years old. Over the years I grew a name in the underground hip hop world and my best songs were based on stories. So I ended up branching out and writing books.

3) What are some of your favorite authors?

Of course, Wahida Clark and Rumont Tekay. But I also like Stephen King, Robert Greene, Donald Goines, Joy Deja King, T. Styles, and K’wan to name a few.

4) What do you believe help shape you as a writer?

Signing this deal with Wahida, and going through the editing phase really molded me as a writer.

5) Tell us a little bit about your book, Enemy Bloodline. How did this book come about? Was it based on true life events?

I came up with this book sitting in my cell bored. I wanted a TV in my cell and couldn’t have one, so I went into my mind and started watching TV, lol!

Every night I would watch this movie in my mind and decided to write it down and that’s where Enemy Bloodline was born.

All my books are based on real situations with a fiction plot.

6) Will you be writing a sequel?

The sequel is finished I’m just tweaking it. But it will be coming soon!

7) What inspires you?

Energy and thoughts.

8) What is your dream?

My dream is to become one with the universe.

9) I read you were in federal prison for a number of years? How did you get through it? What did it teach you?

Being in the Feds taught me how to associate with millionaires. It trained me to be patient during setbacks and depend on myself to make anything happen.

It starts with yourself, then other elements of help come after.

I got through my time by writing books every month.

10) What advice would you share with our youth today?

Stay focused on your goals and stay out of trouble.

11) Lastly, what advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

My advice is to study the game, don’t just dive into a situation because it looks good. Build your craft and know your worth.

Umar Quadeer was raised in North Philadelphia, at a time were the city was the murder capital of the United States.

At the age of 13 Umar moved to Sacramento California where he was introduced to Crips and Bloods. At the age of 9 his father taught him how to write lyrics, memorize and recite them.

At the age of 16, Umar performed on stage with the late Notorious B.I.G., Mob Deep, and the Roots.

While doing time in the FEDS he began writing stories and decided to hone his craft. He joined a novel writing class and earned a certificate and upon his release landed a deal with Wahida Clark Presents.

You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Be The Church

In 1995, I had the pleasure of traveling to India. It was a dream come true for me. I had this romantic view of India, until I stepped off the plane and faced the reality of what real poverty looked like.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

When I arrived, I went from being ecstatic, to sad, to depressed in a matter of minutes.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was such a disparity between the poverty and opulence I saw. What especially broke my heart was seeing the children, dirty and living in shacks made out of garbage.

I stood there dumbfounded. I whispered under my breath, why God? Why must these children be so poor? They didn’t ask to be born into hunger and pain. Why such a cruel fate? My heart was faint.

I was despondent for the rest of my stay there. I walked around like a zombie, going through motions. It seemed like everywhere I turned, I saw poverty, hunger and suffering.

In India, I learned that no amount of religion or theology could reach the heart of the poor and hungry. The country is filled with people who believe in religion and worship a multitude of gods. Religion is part of their spiritual infrastructure.

But religion doesn’t give life, and it certainly isn’t the answer. Do you know what the answer is?

Love.

But not the sappy, sugar coated nonsense being propagated from the pulpits across America today. No.

Do you realize we are the Church? It’s about demonstrating love to those you wouldn’t necessarily show it to.

It’s about getting out of our comfort zone and doing things we wouldn’t normally do or going places we wouldn’t normally go.

I don’t refer to myself as a Christian anymore, because saying I’m a Christian holds a different connotation to whomever you are speaking to. Some people call themselves a Christian, but they are “religious”. They tithe and go to church regularly. But they never stop and love others.

How many Christians are bringing the church to the outcasts and rejected of society? The porn stars, strippers, murderers, gang bangers, drug addicts, drug dealers or satanists?

What Christian steps out of their safety net to be the church to those who are hated, rejected or despised? The poor, the suffering, and the sick? Those who are shunned, isolated and ignored by people.

I personally know Christians who don’t want to associate with those who have problems, who are depressed and walk around with dark clouds over their heads. They are afraid it might rub off on them.

But if we are the Church, we shouldn’t shun or avoid those who are suffering or struggling. How will they ever know that hope and love exists?

The true love that Jesus exemplified and demonstrated when He walked on this earth.

Folks, it’s much deeper than religion or religious acts that appease our own conscience. We must be willing to be the church and bring the love and compassion of Jesus to those who are broken, rejected and despised. If we don’t, who will?

In James 1:27, it says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (KJV)

In Hebrews 13:3, it says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (NLT)

This is not to boast, but even with my limited time between home, work, college, and writing, I’ve decided to use the gift God has blessed me with and write to those who are in prison. I also try to minister to families who have loved ones who are incarcerated. Families do the time along with their loved ones. It’s heartbreaking.

I’m not saying you need to do what I’m doing. All I’m saying is to be the church in whatever capacity God is calling you.

It’s no longer enough to preach or try to bring people to your Church. It’s time to be the hands and feet, and be the Church to the lost, the hopeless, the poor, the rejected, the shunned, the outcast, the incarcerated, the abused, and the sick.

Have you felt a burden to serve in your community, your neighbor or co-worker, but have been afraid to do so? Why not step out of your comfort zone and reach out? Why not take a step toward making a difference in someone else’s life? If we all do our part, we can bring hope to those who really need it.

The Comparison Game

Isn’t it hard not to compare yourself to other people? I’ve struggled with comparing myself to others. But it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

God created us to be exactly as we are. Comparing ourselves to other people isn’t positive or productive. The bible calls it coveting.

We all seem to want what we “think” we don’t have. Woman are especially guilty of comparing themselves to other women.

We compare ourselves to those who have bigger butts, thicker legs, hour glass shapes, prettier faces, or nicer clothes.

This is why women are competitive. I read somewhere that women dress for other women, not for men.

Some women go as far as traveling to other countries to have plastic surgery done. It seems women are never satisfied with what they look like. They want to be someone other than who they are.

People like Lil Kim, Nikki Minaj and others have had extensive plastic surgery done on their bodies. I was grieved when I came across an old photo of Lil Kim. She was beautiful, yet, she bought into the lie that she wasn’t.

I am no different than any of these women. Especially now that I’ve hit middle age. I struggle with the temptation of wishing I was younger and comparing myself to other women I find more appealing, sexier, smarter, or successful.

Years ago, I fell for the peer pressure of what society deems as acceptable and unacceptable. What’s in or not. It was around the time I turned forty that I got fed up of living under other people’s scrutiny and opinions; with their long list of do’s and don’ts’. Who needs it?

It was around the same time I decided not to color my hair anymore. I can’t tell you how much resistance I got when I was transitioning over to grey. I’m so glad I didn’t succumb to it, because I love my silver grey hair.

What I discovered by those who follow the fashion police, is that I find them to be boring. All this emphasis on the external and what they look like, causes a lack the depth and substance to sustain my interest.

What’s the use of looking good on the outside, if you are bankrupt on the inside? You might have all the “external” attributes which the world worships and exploits, but what will happen to you on the inside or when you grow old? What will you do then?

I see all these movie stars that are well in their eighties and deformed by so many surgeries. I think that’s really sad, don’t you?

I personally don’t want to get caught up in the snare of comparing myself to others. I want to love and embrace who God created me to be.

Let’s do ourselves a favor and not get caught up in the comparison game. It is a perpetual trap that will only promise us misery and dissatisfaction.

Let’s break free from the shackles of bondage and focus on what God has blessed us with.

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? Do you want to be someone your not? Do you secretly envy other people?

Author Interview: Seth Ferranti

After reading a book by Ethan Brown called, Queens Reigns Supreme, which I personally didn’t care for.

I discovered Seth Ferranti’s book,  The Supreme Team, and found his book amazing.

If you want to know a true account of The Supreme Team, this is the book to read.

Mr. Ferranti’s writing voice is vibrant, bold, and raw. When you read his work, you know it’s the real deal.

I have been following Mr. Ferranti’s work ever since and it is with great pleasure to introduce him to you today.

 

1) So tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?

I grew up in California, born and raised. My father was in the military, so basically, I am a military brat. We moved around a lot. I lived in Germany, England, and on the East Coast too, but we always moved back to California.

I was an outgoing and head strong child who was probably a little rebellious. Fancied myself a rebel without a cause. But my childhood was good.

2) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I started out writing songs, music and poetry when I was 12 or 13. But before that I was playing “Dungeons and Dragons and creating worlds to play that game in.

I have always been creative. I was into poetry, music, writing articles, then chapters, and then books. For me, it was a natural progression. Hopefully movies are next.

3) When did you decide you wanted to write a book?

I started doing this short story idea which became my first book, Prison Stories. So probably around the late 90’s, I decided I wanted to become a writer and start penning books. But it wasn’t like I just did it, it was a long and slow process. At first, it took several years, but now I can crank them out in six months.

4) How did the idea or inspiration come?

I just saw what other people were doing and I liked reading the books on prison life and true crime. Like the Mafia and Cartel books. I decided I wanted to do something representative of the time I was doing in the Feds. I wanted to write about the inner city gangsters that the rappers were talking about, so I did.

5) What are some of your all-time favorite books?

I love In the Belly of the Beast by Jack Henry Abbot, Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, 1984 by George Orwell, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson, Soledad Brother by George Jackson.

6) What was the hardest book to write and why?

The Supreme Team was a monumental effort. I got a lot of resistance from some of the dudes involved, so that was satisfying to finally get out. It is a monster of a book and I really think it needed to be published to give their history. They influenced hip-hop and the streets so much. But it was a big deal to get all the clearances for that book and I had several delays before I was finally able to put it out.

7) Which was your favorite book to write?

Every project I do is dear to my heart, but I like the Prison Stories book. Because it was my first and it was a journey I had never been on before.

8) How did you develop the confidence to approach magazines with your work?

I am very outgoing and I do what I call, jumping out there. I just expose myself. You get a lot of rejection and if you can’t take it, no sense in doing it. But I don’t have a problem with rejection. I believe in myself and maybe someone doesn’t feel me, my work or my vibe, but if I keep jumping out there, someone probably will.

9) Where have you published your articles?

You can go on the publications section of gorillaconvict.com and check out a lot of my published works from magazines and the Internet or just Google my name and a lot of stuff comes up. I am in the process of updating the site right now, so more recent stuff will be going up.

10) You were just released from prison a few weeks ago? For those of us who don’t know, what is it like being in prison? How did you manage to overcome the many obstacles presented to you? How long were you in prison for? Was there any retaliation for writing in prison and why? Do you have any ideas on how we can reform the justice and prison system? What are some of your thoughts on this?

Prison sucks for real. You just have to stay busy and stay out of the drama and keep your head down. It’s great to be out. I just did the time, I didn’t let it do me. I didn’t get involved in the mix and the prison politics. I didn’t let the system eat me up. I stayed busy with school, my writing and working out. That’s the key.

I was in prison for 21 years. I was put in the hole numerous times for my writing. The prison officials don’t like when you expose what is going on in there. And especially when you have a national audience like I did.

They need to stop giving out so much time, it’s absurd. I did 21 years for a first time nonviolent offense.

Reform the whole system. It’s a bloated corrupt system right now.

Investigate it. Stop turning a blind eye. People only care when it happens to them.

11) What are some of the valuable lessons you’ve learned from doing time?

Time is precious. I feel so behind now, like I have to accomplish all my life’s goals in the next 5-10 years. I just feel like I am way behind and that I have to catch up.

But doing time teaches you to be patient and that everything unpleasant is only temporary.

12) If you could have done something different what would it have been?

I wish I would have had a clue when I was 19 and that I wouldn’t have sold drugs, but that is now. When I was twenty, no one could have told me anything.

13) What kept you going and what got you through the hard days?

I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I was living through my writing. I was accomplishing things. I set goals and I realized them. I earned college degrees, I wrote articles and books. I had a life outside of prison.

14) What are things you value and appreciate now that most people take for granted?

I just enjoy taking a walk with my wife and my dog. Choosing my own food to eat. Buying my own clothes. Walking around the mall. Going on the computer. These things a worthwhile to me.

15) How has your perspective on life changed?

I am grown and mature. I know life isn’t fair and that I don’t know everything. I know life can change in an instant and it can all be taken away.

16) What advice would you give the youth of today?

Time is precious, don’t waste it.

17) Will you be writing a memoir?

Yes. I am going to New York in the new year, when I get out of the halfway house, to find an agent who can represent my various endeavors.

18) Lastly, what advice would you give to writers who are just starting out?

I always tell people to just write. Just write and write and write and edit and edit and edit. You have to build up your catalog and content. You have to have pieces you are always working on and crafting and bringing to perfection. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write and you have to jump out there. Who will know about you if you don’t jump out there.

Thank you so much, Mr. Ferranti. It was a pleasure having you as my guest. I wish you a multitude of success, in your life, and future endeavors.

My name is Seth Ferranti. I am the gorilla convict writer. I completed my Masters degree in Humanities through California State University. Previously, I earned an AA degree in Letters, Arts and Sciences from Penn State University and a BA degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Iowa. I have written several hundred articles, including feature stories, for magazines such as Don Diva, Feds, King, FHM, Slam, Street Elements, Vice and websites like hoopshype.com, viceland.com and urbanbooksource.com, among others. I have contributed short stories and pieces to Nikki Turner Presents Christmas in the Hood, Out of the Gutter Vol. 1 to 5, Badlands Publishing’s Money Power and Betrayal short story collection and Prison Chronicles published by Gutter Books. My blog on gorillaconvict.com gives the 411 on prison, street legends, the mafia, prison gangs, urban authors and life in the belly of the beast. It attracts 15 to 20k unique visitors and over 250,000 hits a month.  For my next projects I am interested in writing a book on the notorious prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood and a memoir on my case which led to my eventual incarceration. I have written two screenplays, THE DOPE SHOW, about gangs battling over the heroin trade in prison and THE SUPREME TEAM, which chronicles Prince’s rise and fall in the drug game during the crack era in late 1980’s Jamaica, Queens. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Just Be Yourself

We are admonished and encouraged to be ourselves. Yet, a strange thing happens when we get involved in relationships.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

What was considered attractive, becomes unattractive. Where there were once praises, there are expletives. Those things which were adored, now are despised.

Why is that?

Suddenly, you are no longer able to be yourself, because being “yourself” is unacceptable.

You sit back and try to analyze where things went wrong and how you got to this point? Why you feel less than adequate? Where you don’t quite measure up.

Believe me, I know exactly where you are at and how you feel. You are not alone.

I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with you. You are fine just the way you are. Despite what anyone else around you says or thinks.

Think about it a minute…, what gives anyone the right to judge, criticize or put you down?

No one has the right to be allowed to make you feel like you are not good enough or don’t measure up. Who are they?

You shouldn’t have to feel stigmatized for being who you are, and who God created you to be.

You shouldn’t have to feel “less than” or “inadequate” based on someone else’s opinion of you.

No one reserves the right to put you down or make you feel like there is something wrong with you.

This is something I have been battling for years. I have been subjected to people wanting to change me.

I implore you to live your life. If someone doesn’t accept who you are, don’t deal with them. Life is too short to be wasting your precious time and energy trying to please others by becoming someone you are not.

God made you the way you are for a reason and if someone doesn’t resonate with who you are, you don’t need to be around them.

Just be yourself.

Is this something you struggle with? What are the ways in which you deal with it?