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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Damon “Amin” Meadows: True to his Faith. Truth to the Game

In what was Conversations’ first “jailhouse” interview, it was an honor to talk with bestselling author Damon “Amin” Meadows, the co-author (along with bestselling author Jason Poole) of one of the most controversial novels I have ever read: CONVICT’S CANDY. After reading a book that intense, it was an honor to get the opportunity to speak with the author about the inspiration of the book as well as why he felt it was important to tell the story of Candy. Conversations met at the Medgar Evers Library in Jackson, MS for this discussion. The original interview was set for 15 minutes, but it became so good that Amin extended his time with our discussion group, and the result is here for you to enjoy.

Amin, tell us about the person that is Amin.
“I was a young brother from South Philly involved in things that many were doing at the time. In 1993—just seven days before I was to turn 21 years old—I was given a life sentence. I was at a seventh grade reading level at the time and didn’t have a lot to look forward to. In time I made the best of my situation by getting my GED and became a mentor for others that were also incarcerated. I knew I was going to have to rehabilitate myself because I wasn’t trying to get caught up in the system.”

Thank you for your honesty, Amin. What led you to writing?
“I knew I had to do something to help others protect themselves and face reality about the lives they are living. For me, I didn’t want to be just another writer. I wanted to educate and entertain, but above everything else I wanted what I wrote to be beneficial.

And the idea of Convict’s Candy?
“It began in letters, keeping in touch with the women in my life. I was seeing a lot of things… and wanted to write something that would be of help to my daughters and those like my children. There was a reality that was going on that needed to be exposed.”

You are a Muslim. How did it affect you personally to graphically portray sex scenes between men and in effect get into the mind of a transgender?
“You’re right, it was hard. Again, I wanted people to face reality about what they are doing no matter who their sexual partner is. On the streets of Philly, being a Muslim is somewhat of a fad on the streets. For me it’s a real commitment. A lifestyle. Some of the stuff I had to stomach in writing the book was unreal, but had to make it real. We interviewed transsexuals that were locked up to make sure that authentic what we were saying. What they told us helped us to write the story. There is so much of a code in prison, just like on the outside. Some of the transsexuals I spoke to told me that they prey on a certain type of individual to get what they want. It’s just like anyone who has a weakness and is tempted.”

Getting through the book is one thing, but did you really believe that it would be accepted?
“I expected for it to be successful. In fact, I said to Jason: ‘We have a hit.’ I wanted to touch on topics other than just sex. The book deals with not just HIV but drug use and racism, too.”

The book that Amin and Poole have unleased to the world through Ghettoheat ignited much discussion during the interview with author. Laura Turner, the Librarian for the Medgar Evers Library remarked: “To me the prison system is part of the ‘Aggressor’. The system is the villain, a modern-day slavery.” Rose Wright—President of the Savvy Book Club in Jackson, MS and a school teacher for Jackson Public Schools—had this to say about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and “down low” lifestyle: “We love our men to death and stand behind them, and they are taking us to death.”

Amin pointed out near the conclusion of the interview that Poole and he were not the only men who kept their integrity and resisted the vices that come with prison life. “The book is called CONVICT’S CANDY, meaning they are not the majority of those locked up, but the actions of a few can affect all of us.”

For more information about Ghettoheat and any of its authors, visit http://www.ghettoheat.com.

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