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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Author of "War of the Bloods in my Veins" talks with Conversations

Dashaun "Jiwe" Morris has lived a life full of experiences that people two and three times his actual age has had to experience or endure. The 27 year old man is a warrior in every sense of the word, but has changed his battle plans and strategies over the years to become the man who walks the earth today. His memoir "War of the Bloods in my Veins" is a wake-up for all of those who live a life of dangerous choices and even  for those who glorify and worship those who say they live such a life. He takes us into the struggle, the pain and finally into the healing that has given him the strength to be here today.
In our conversation we talk about the importance of his truth, why he has chosen to be the voice of a violent generation and what he hopes people take from his experiences.

Dashuan, thank you for taking out the time to talk with Conversations. We have a lot I want to cover with your debut book and memoir, but before we get into that I want to talk about the writing experience for you. Have you been surprised at the way the book has been received? Absolutely, I mean when I wrote it, I knew I wanted it to help spark a new way of thinking or just a modified version from what we were used to. But to actually see how it's affecting people from all walks of life, older, younger, political, religious, all kinds of people have been affected by my story. Through this I am fully aware that my story was necessary. 
What led you to say that writing your story was the right thing to do?
Well for me life is about natural progression now. And when I add up all I've been through in life, I realize that that was just one chapter in my life. I've been working on the second part and that is the transitional period from gang life to fatherhood. And finally there is the giving back aspect. To me life is taking what we've been through, learning from it, and passing on what our experiences have been to those that may need courage and insight to fight many of the same traps we were faced with. 
You are still a young man, so why a memoir now?
That is what makes it so unique.  Why wait until I'm 40, out of my prime, out of touch with the younger generation, to tell my story when it can be helpful now. I have a message now.  Age isn't the important factor in my decision to write my story.  Although I'm 27, gang life has aged me, I feel 40. My thoughts are very old, my spirit is old. 
The things and situation you describe in the book might be difficult for some to comprehend or even fathom. Did you have a certain audience in mind or did you just want to get it all out there? Yes I did, two in particular: for gang members who are still out there in the streets stuck as I was, feeling hopeless, full of despair, no direction in life; and for single mothers who are raising males by themselves. So much can be prevented if they could intervene at a younger age, to be enlightened about what is happening to us boys growing up. 
As you know, life in a gang and the 'thug life' is glamorized quite a bit in movies and even in music and other forms of entertainment. This is a life that you live, that was a part of you just like anything else. Do you think having the firsthand experiences you did took away the shine of the life so many praised?
I hope so because it ain't something to look up to. I didn't choose this lifestyle, it chose me. I wanna make these youngsters see what my life was like and I hope it inspires them to at least want to exercise their potential to the max, knowing that life can become something if they hold on long enough and keep fighting. 

Your book War of the Bloods in My Veins has the subtitle of "A street soldier's march toward redemption". You were fortunate to have come through the fire a more refined individual. Why do you think you were able to do so when so many others were consumed by the life?
I believe in God now, so I know it was by design. Sometimes I still ask myself "why me?"  I have lost a gang of home boys, to prison or the grave. So it's hard at times to digest this newfound exposure and outlook on life. But I feel my dead homees are looking down on me proud of what their homee is doing. Next to my daughters, they are my strength to keep pushing this line of healing for gang members. We are scarred and wounded. 
In the book you talk about the importance of truth. Conversations talks a lot about walking in your own truth. What would you tell young men who hear of your story about the importance of living the truth?
Well the truth can be different depending on where you live.  If you're from Newark, the truth is different than living in Caldwell. The thing is learning what your truth is may come with time, after going through enough garbage, then you find what you really want, and once you find it I encourage you to never let go. It's a great feeling to be in control of your life or at least maintain stability in your life. Many of us never find our truth because the streets are filled with lies, deceit, and despair. I pray these youngsters hit their rock bottom before it's too late.   
With memoirs come the questions from readers and those like me in the press about your purpose for writing your book.  Now that your book is in print and available worldwide, what do you hope it accomplishes?
Change. Hope. The will to live. I want gang members to take a stand for their lives. We've been hurt and abandoned, neglected and shut out for so long; it's time to live. Time to be fathers, working men, positive people. 
Dashaun, we really do appreciate your talking with us. If our readers want to find out more about you and when you will be in their area, how can they do so?
I can be reached through my website at: http://www.jiweera.com.   
I want to say thank you for even doing this interview with me. I always take honor in speaking about my story because someone will benefit from my trial and error. I leave the youngsters with this, "Learn from my mistakes, IT'S FREE!" 

1 comment:

voncele kirkwood said...

Cyrus, I just finished Dashaun's book last night. It was very moving. Most impressive to me was the way his writing style and language transitioned as he transitioned and changed into a "man". He is a strong, blessed young man. I rejoiced to see in his interview that he knew his life's story had nothing to do with him (Joseph?) It was a "set-up" by God, to be used for God's glory. I say to Dashaun, "March on, soldier, march on". The battle still rages, but it now becomes spiritual instead of physical. I also saw the PBS program.Praise the Lord! Voncele @ www.savagehouse.net