Study Guide

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison Chapter 15

By Shaka Senghor

Chapter 15

  • Here are more details, right up front:
  • Starting location: Brightmoor, West Side Detroit
  • Time: March 1990
  • Shaka comes back from the hospital after getting shot—he's reasonably okay physically, but deeply traumatized emotionally.
  • He's completely lost his innocence now, and he starts carrying a gun everywhere.
  • Seriously, he even takes the gun along on bathroom breaks. That's how obsessed he is. And he's ready to use it if a situation gets even a little bit confrontational.
  • Shaka does a brief stint zipping from Detroit to Ohio frequently to sell drugs.
  • He's making double or triple what he'd make in Detroit, so this is financially profitable.
  • But—surprise—the local drug dealers in Ohio don't like having competition.
  • It becomes obvious to Shaka's team that they can't win a long-term fight over clients on someone else's turf, so they give up and focus on local business back in Detroit.
  • Business is slow for a while.
  • Then Shaka meets a girl. That's nice, right? Except that they meet when she asks to borrow a pistol, and pretty soon they're dealing crack as a team.
  • Turns out, this girl is Brenda, so we already know she and Shaka will later have a child together. Shaka likes Brenda a lot.
  • Brenda turns out to be the kind of big sister who would do anything for her siblings.
  • But in the rocky environment she's grown up in, that means dealing drugs and fighting dangerous people.
  • Shaka and Brenda are both pretty hurt from dysfunctional aspects of their home lives, not to mention the drugs and violence dominating their neighborhoods.
  • So it's not a surprise that their relationship has a lot of ups and downs.
  • They start living together and dealing crack from their house.
  • It's probably clear that dealing drugs isn't great for a relationship or a healthy lifestyle. Shaka says it was also a bust financially. Brenda and Shaka are basically risking their lives for about the same money they'd get working at McDonald's.
  • In a few months, they do start making some more money when they begin working with the guy who's dating Brenda's cousin.
  • They also discover Brenda's pregnant, making the extra dough especially attractive.
  • Brenda and Shaka also start planning to leave the drugs business behind so they can give their child a better life. They really do want that, but they really don't know how to get out.
  • No lie, the ending of this chapter's a bit of a downer, with Shaka saying the desperate cycle they're in will soon claim him for good.

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