My co-author, Jason Davis, is – as he would be the first to admit – a work in progress. His body is covered with the scars of a street warrior, a gang banger, a King on the streets of Harlem. At one point, Jay was the OG (Old Gangster) running a sett (a gang unit) of more than 450 young men.
If all that were not enough, Jay is also a cutter. A psychological construct most associated with young white women, Jay took to slicing into his own body when the stress of his life overwhelmed him. Those scars criss cross his arms and legs over the deeper, more professionally inked and burned tattoos of the Bloods.
Here is Jay’s story about trading in guns for words:
I became a Blood in October 16, 1996. 20 years later I currently remain a Blood, it’s for life for me.
The gang life: no one can truly prepare you for it. There are many ups and downs but most of all, there are the constant deaths. I lost countless comrades and close friends because of the life. I have gotten my bottom lip bitten/severed off, stabbed in my ear drum and stabbed in my calf twice,protecting another member from getting killed. I have also gotten in trouble with the law several times and had to run as a fugitive from multiple states. I was on Delaware’s most wanted list for 4 and a half years.
I would not say any major incident I witnessed made we want to stop gang banging. When you’re in the life and you have a true love for the people you bond with and are struggling with, you become more and more enraged when they are killed,hurt or put in prisons. It builds and builds, that hurt, but my self awareness did not come into play until I matured more as a man.
I learned that you can be within the system of any gang and not partake in any criminal activity. I learned you can’t chose where or what you are born around, but when you carry yourself as a man first,not just a gang member, you are respected as a man. first. That is my world; yours is different but no less challenging for you.
I also challenged the love that other gang members said they had for me. If they did feel that way – truly – they would have my best interests at heart. The only members not tired of the killing are those that hadn’t banged for very long.
I know what it feels like to grow up confused and be taught a negative way of thinking early in life. And no matter what community you live in, it’s a crime to involve kids in anything that would potentially harm them in any way. That is not how you love someone. That goes for all kids: white, black, green or purple.
They are innocent and deserve more than what I experienced.
Jason Davis is the co-author of HAIR CLUB BURNING, an interracial comedy. To order, click on the book’s title.