Shaka Senghor’s bestselling autobiography, Writing My Wrongs, features a beautiful message that shows how anyone can achieve redemption. If you’re interested in stories that describe a process of transformation, this is the perfect book for you. Writing My Wrongs is relatable today because it focuses on serious topics that many people have experienced such as depression, family dysfunction, poverty and violence. It also reveals the animalistic and cruel conditions that many minorities undergo in prison and solitary confinement. Senghor will make you root for him as he takes you on an unforgettable journey in rediscovering his true passions while attempting to forgive himself for his past actions.
The story focuses on Shaka Senghor, a man who received a forty-year prison sentence at nineteen years old after committing second-degree murder. Senghor writes in a nonlinear narrative format, showing his terrifying prison experience while also reflecting on how his traumatic adolescence led him to being accustomed with expressing violence.
At fourteen years old, Senghor was exposed to a world of betrayal, savagery and sexual abuse during his experience as a drug dealer. Instead of growing up in a positive environment, Senghor was surrounded by many adults who were abusing drugs. You will feel for Senghor as he narrates events of him being brutally attacked by powerful men in the drug system. These scenes are painful because he looked up to these men as if they were his family. Writing My Wrongs highlights the theme of depression when Senghor’s constant experiences of dealing with abuse causes him to feel lonely and unwanted. Anyone who has dealt with feelings of emptiness and low self-esteem will relate with him when he expresses his misery: “The thought of killing myself smashed into my consciousness like a drunk driver. Images of my tattered life boiled and raged inside my mind, and a deep piercing pain shot through my heart. It felt like someone had plunged a fiery sword through my most vital organ.”. This scene is heartbreaking and reveals how depression can cause people to mentally lose themselves.
The scenes depicting Senghor’s years in prison reveal the cruel treatment of inmates, showing how the chaos and disorder can cause them to turn against each other. Senghor does a fantastic job at capturing the imagery of loneliness as he narrates his time being in solitary confinement. When he talks about witnessing men that tried to kill themselves while being trapped in a tiny space, you will wonder how he was able to endure the pain. It was devastating to learn that Senghor spent four and a half years without physical contact, especially knowing that he had a young son. When Senghor writes about missing his family, you will wish that he was surrounded by his loved ones. One of the main topics that Writing My Wrongs addresses is the heartbreak that many inmates feel when they are isolated from their families. Instead of being around a positive support system, these inmates become more accustomed to a dysfunctional environment of sexual abuse and violence.
Senghor’s transformation is astounding as you will watch him grow up to become a confident, intelligent and loving man who hopes to make a positive impact in society. One of the best scenes in Writing My Wrongs features Senghor discovering his passion for reading and writing. Learning about Malcolm X and Black history helps him gain more pride and self-respect, making him realize that he could also be inspiring to others. Writing becomes an escape for him as he publishes books and documents his future plans for life after prison. When Senghor writes an apologetic letter to the family of the man that he had killed, you will believe him when he states how deeply sorry he is for what he had done. Senghor displays bravery when he continues to fight for his right to receive his parole. You will be proud of him when he tells multiple board members that he plans to do mentoring work so that he could be helpful to many communities. One of the most incredible qualities about Senghor is that he was able to regain his hopefulness: “I simply said that there was so much hope and potential there, even amid the violence and the disorder. Even amid the pain, fear and destruction I had experienced and inflicted in these streets, there was still hope. And there is.”. Today, Senghor is a motivational speaker and mentor that continues to share his story with many schools.
Justin Coloyan is a blogger for CSUITEMUSIC.
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