JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Dashaun Jiwe Morris, author of War of the Bloods in My Veins
At age 9 Jiwe’s mother, battling a drug addiction, sent him far awayÂ to live with relatives. Two years later, the streets finally forced him to commit his first drive by, initiating him into a hellish life of gang bangin’. By age 25, while sitting in a jail cell fighting a charge of attempted murder, and awaiting the birth of his first child, Jiwe had enough. He began penning hisÂ memoir as a form of personal therapy, as a way to warn parents, and as a way educate society why food, shelter, and clothing are not enough to keep our kids from the clutches of the streets.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write War of the Bloods in My Veins?
Dashaun Jiwe Morris: The inspiration came from me sitting in a prison cell with the idea of having to raise my daughter from behind that wall. Sitting in isolation gave me the time I needed to really take a look at my life. It allowed me to dig deep and focus on where I had been, where I was and where I wanted to go. And one thing was for certain, I wasn’t trying to raise my daughter while in prison.
JP: What sets your story apart from other memoirs written by gang members making a change forÂ the better?
DJM: I just think I was able to capture more of the emotional toll gang life has on us. I didn’t focus much on the war stories as much as the psychological tear it had on me. I wanted to put a human face to the guy behind the gun and bandana. I wanted to talk directly to the YG’s still out there lost and hopeless, and I wanted to speak directly to the women that are raising them.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to War of the Bloods in My VeinsÂ getting out to the public?
DJM: The key to my success was taking a chance. I stepped out and spoke on my pain. I invited specific people into my life in return for healing. I did what I think most who come from where I come from fear doing: change.
JP: Gangs are very close knit and secretive. How are you able to explore and explain your life withoutÂ backlash from the Bloods?
DJM: First off, I got permission from my elders to speak. But secondly, that’s a silly stereotype homie. That is so 70’s and 80’s back when Bloods and Crips were relatively new. Its nothing going in in gang life now that the world or the powers to be don’t know about. I didn’t talk about things like how operations were ran or the list of OG’s top to bottom. I spoke on my life, myself and what I’ve been through. No different than how rappers and singers express and speak on their pain and life stories in their lyrics.Â I just did it in the form of a book. Plus, I’m well respected around this country. So many of my peers, elders and youngsters are proud of what I was able to do. Just know many of us want a better life.
JP: What’s next for Dashaun Jiwe Morris?
DJM: I’ve already begun to work on my second book. It’s part two to War of the Bloods in my veins. I have a documentary I’m featured in coming out on the Sundance Channel in September of 2009 produced by Forest Whitaker, Marc Levin, and Mark Benjamin. Its a six-part 30 minutes series exploring the challenges of my city, Newark, NJ. Lastly, I have a movie option in place as we speak. Marc Levin will direct the movie to my book, so that will be set to hit theaters in 2010. I’ve been pretty busy with traveling and speaking. I’m thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to give back and make some positive change in my life.
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