Trying to get to the bottom of what happened with his father, who in the mob of protestors killed him, leads Willie on a trajectory he never imagined in his otherwise privileged life.
Exploring themes of race, class, and addiction, The Crown Lord is a fresh take on the American Dream.
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|Publisher:||Rare Bird Books|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
We are all stuck here for a while, let's try to work it out...
The first time I heard those words was roughly fifteen years before I spent my first night in federal prison, and though Rodney King will always be more remembered for a very important question he asked that same day, being stuck and having a need to work it out played much larger roles in the lives of this privileged white boy white-collar criminal and the black inner-city drug dealer I was bunked with.
“Eric” and I knew we had nothing in common. He was black and I was white and society had already taught us all we really needed to know and that we were at the only place two guys like us would ever meet or spend any meaningful time together.
Fortunately, we had no choice.
Within a week Eric had caught on to my Jolly Rancher addiction and I had caught on to the fact that he was selling slices of what was rumored to be the best homemade pizza in the history of pizzas out of our space. One day he was making one and I asked him how much he charged and he said, “free,” before dropping a piece in the little plastic bowl on top of my locker. I plopped down from my bunk and we each had a piece of pizza. Hell’s bells. We each liked pizza.
Within a month, Eric had also developed a Jolly Rancher addiction, (particularly the apple flavored) and I was eating pizza three or four nights a week in lieu of the mystery meat in the prison cafeteria.
The more we talked and the better we came to know each other, the less color we saw. We told each other jokes and talked about our lives before prison. We talked about how much we each missed our kids and our families. We were just two guys that had made mistakes that couldn’t wait to get home to the people they loved. We were two people that had learned to ignore their differences, those same differences that had previously prevented them from seeing the things they have in common.
I can remember this conversation like it happened ten seconds ago. One night, Eric returned from the TV room and was telling me about something he had watched on BET. I had jokingly asked him why white people don’t have their own entertainment channel, and he looked me straight in the eye and said, “You do…all the ones except BET.” I laughed, but within a matter of seconds, I realized there was a great deal of truth to what he said and it bothered me. That night, I told him the impact his words had on me, and promised him that if I ever made it as a writer I’d try to do a story that put the racial shoe on the other foot. Eric and I were both released from prison and I was blessed to have considerable success with my first two books, The Reason and The Sinners’ Garden. While on probation, former bad guys are prohibited from making contact with each other so Eric and I fell out of touch. One day I decided to look him up, knowing the day was coming where we could hang out and talk about the second chances we had been given to start our lives over. The very first thing that popped up under his name was a brief clip about a man that had been shot and killed during a home invasion. I remembered a promise I had made that man, and that night I started the outline for what ultimately became The Crown Lord. Though it is impossible for a white man to fully understand the oppression black people have experienced, I did my best and I hope you enjoyed the story.