Study Guide

Ebony in Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison

By Shaka Senghor


Ebony is a remarkable woman, and she becomes Shaka's romantic partner towards the end of his time in prison.

They actually meet because Ebony volunteers for a organization called HOPE (Helping Our Prisoners Elevate). It supports incarcerated people by providing books, helping families visit, and sharing a newsletter. When HOPE sends Ebony to help present at a Black History Month program Shaka is organizing, Shaka enjoys meeting her (and thinks she's super-beautiful right away).

But he really starts to fall in love with her during the Q&A after the session. It means a lot to Shaka that she's passionate about the need for Black male role models in Black communities. Or, as she says:

"Our community needs you brothers to return as strong men, teachers, leaders, and mentors for the children who are growing up looking up to you." (20.19)

To say that Shaka admires Ebony's energy, strength, and resilience is almost a bit of an understatement. (20.20)

Shaka really wants to start a relationship with Ebony, but he feels like he should suppress those feelings and focus on getting through his prison sentence. But then Ebony sends him a personal letter a while later, suggesting a correspondence. Shaka knows it's no time to beat around the bush, so he writes back and says he wants to build a friendship that could become something more. (20.42) Ebony's reply is thoughtful and open to a relationship, and Shaka is really excited.

Shaka describes their relationship this way:

When I had begun my transformation, back in the hole, I thought often about the kind of woman I desired to have in my life. I was changing as a man, and I had different needs than I had when I was a teenager slinging dope in Brightmoor. Now I wanted a woman who would challenge me to be the best I could possibly be. I wanted a woman who would love and nurture me; who had a determined spirit and would stand beside me as I fought the system for my release. I needed a woman who had a profound understanding of what it would take for me to transition back to the community and would be there to support and encourage me. My mind craved the nourishment that Ebony provided, and I could sense the feeling was mutual.

Ebony and Shaka do start a relationship, and Ebony is there for him the whole way through the next few years in prison. She's there when he needs support, she's there when he's transferred far away, she's there when he's denied parole, and best of all she's there when he's finally released.

Ebony and Shaka continue to have a great relationship when they can finally be together all the time. Ebony encourages Shaka through the tough times as he tries to find work and become more established as a speaker and writer. They also find out they're going to have a child together, and they name him Sekou.

In other words, they have the chance to build something amazing together…and they do.

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