This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Eddie will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
As I sit on two cotton blankets, folded up as a cushion for my plastic chair in front of my bottom bunk bed that's used as my writing desk, I'm wondering five things you'd probably never guess about me. Automatically, memories are triggered from my gangster past.
This should be easy.
So much of my life was lived in a way my closest family members couldn't guess things about me.
The street legend of who I used to be was created mainly by those that never knew me but only heard of me.
It's amazing when someone talks to you, about you, without knowing that you’re the you they are talking about. If I decide to admit that they're discussing me, the lengths I've had to go for them to believe it, is more evidence of how much I've changed. But is it really change?
Or did I finally choose to stop pretending to be a gangster?
Would you ever guess that I went from being charged with running a criminal enterprise to teaching about the love of God and Universal laws to convicts with multiple life sentences?
For over a decade, I've resided behind the walls of USP Canaan, one of the most violent prisons in America.
I don't just talk about my trust and belief in God's Universal laws, I walk my faith, knowing positive, optimistic energy sets the course throughout each day, attracting constructive experiences.
Would you ever guess that I went from buying bottles at the bar in an attempt to find that elusive peace of mind, to unrolling my purple Yoga mat in the gymnasium, teaching Downward facing dog to gang members who appreciate the harmony and tranquility of my hour morning class?
Would you ever guess that I contribute to supporting my children by making and selling pizzas for $6 each?
When football season comes around, I sell 35 pizza pies every weekend. I make the dough with flour and water, adding spices so the crust has a unique flavor. I use ketchup as the base for my special sauce and apply two different types of cheese. All supplies purchased with a $25 weekly contract from a kitchen worker. Birthday parties, school clothes, I-phones, and Michel Koors handbags, all contributions made from my prison pizza making business.
Would you ever guess about all the politics I have to deal with in an attempt to save the lives?
There are 12 units, housing 1,500 convicts. Each convict has to be a part of a specific group to maintain order. The group your in is called your car. Should someone ask which car you’re in, you would respond by either the State you're from or the gang that you’re a part of.
I'm from New York. I'm not in a gang so I'm in the New York car.
I'm also known for being a respected, calm, problem solver, which designates me as the representative for New York in unit E-2. I'm driving the car.
Anytime there's a problem with members of my group, it's brought to the Gangster Turned Guru for advice on how to resolve the issue. If there's a situation with members of my car against members from another car, then I'm the one who goes to speak to their designated driver, with the hopes of avoiding a car crash!
It's an everyday soap opera, real reality TV at its best. Being a prison politician is something you would never have guess about me.
Would you ever guess that the hardest part of doing time is looking at the innocent eyes of my daughter Nia?
She was a month old when I got arrested and has had one wish throughout her 13 years, her dad coming home.
At times her belief in God is challenged for her one prayer has yet to be answered.
"God works in mysterious ways," I explained in an attempt to reinforce her faith.
She's heard the rumors of my gangster past, but experienced only the loving father to whom she can do no wrong.
You would never guess that when I'm in that visiting room, I'm mesmerized by her dark brown eyes and a smile that she knows keeps me wrapped around her pinky. Would you guess that she's the only one that causes me to start pretending that I'm that hard gangster, only to keep from crying while my heart breaks watching her leave through the prison gates.
In his memoir, Eddie shares his story of becoming a father at 18 years old who realized his son was showing ‘stereotypical’ signs of being gay while still in diapers. Spending most of his adult life engulfed in the street gangster/hip-hop culture where this subject was not only hushed but deeply frowned upon, he gives us the voice for what’s been kept silent for far too long, confronting almost every aspect of this taboo topic. It took years for him to silently accept his son’s homosexuality himself, regardless of all the signs. When his son was five years old, his favorite color was pink and there was nothing Dad could do about it. By the age of fourteen; he was an internet sensation, dancing on YouTube building his fan base to guarantee his success when performing as a drag queen a few years later. Eddie addresses the questions most are scared to ask; Was there anything I could do to stop my son’s homosexuality? When did I know my son was gay? What made him that way? Parents will find comfort in reading that Eddie admits that his son’s feminine behaviors embarrassed him and he seriously contemplated abandonment, a choice that too many fathers feel they have to choose.
He shares witnessing the desperation in the eyes of fathers, from all walks of life, who have pulled him aside, away from listening ears wanting to know the answers to these frequently asked questions, agonizing the possibilities that their son might be gay.
Read an excerpt:
As soon as I laid eyes on him, instinctively I knew. His tan skin, dark brown eyes, and beautiful smile made me understand why everyone said we were related, but at eighteen years old with my whole life ahead of me, I thought I was too young to be a father and deep down I knew I wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility.
My angel of a mother, who always stood by me through thick and thin, right or wrong, supported me but stayed neutral between myself and Jennifer. She always had a loving spirit for everyone. She's like a second mother to all of my friends growing up. So when she walked in the house to find me with a four-month-old smiling baby Drew, sitting together on the living room couch, she changed into Grandmother mode right on the spot, accepting Drew with open arms and a loving heart.
"Why hello gorgeous!" she said placing her purse on the chair then picking up Drew, carefully holding him close beaming her big grandmotherly smile which Drew reflected right back. They smiled at each other as he received a warm hug and a barrage of kisses.
Drew was an adorably cute baby; I'm not just saying that because he's mine either. He lit up any room and every person that came into contact with him couldn't help but smile. He was a beautiful child.
About the Author:
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Thoughts from a reader:
These delicate father son issues, so implicitly captured in Eddie's writings, are relevant to a broad spectrum of societal issues beyond the "No son of mine" father of a gay man experience. In fact, the book gets to the real substance of human conflict which is our inability to accept and appreciate difference. The key word here is appreciation. The book offers an opportunity to consider acceptance in a way that extends grace, honor, support and recognition. When we are ungrateful, we are critical, blaming, and we use forms of rejection. Eddie’s experience of coming to the acceptance of his son provides hope for healing; a more practical response to conflict that allows dignity, respect and honor which overcomes criticism, blame, bigotry, and ultimately rejection. ~G. Holmes~
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