by Minister of Information JR
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us how did you hook up with Lil’ D aka Daryl Reed? How did you start working together?
Dennis Haywood: Darryl and I became friends in prison. Like so many young Black men in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I was selling cocaine and I was the very first person to be sentenced federally for what is now known as crack cocaine and possession of a firearm in the Eastern District of California. Both were mandatory minimum charges. I was in prison for about five years before Darryl and I crossed paths at the federal correctional institution in Sheridan, Oregon. We were introduced by James Beasley, who was in my unit.
I served nine years and got out and self-published a couple of books I wrote while incarcerated and then I violated my parole and was sent to Lompoc and the first person I saw was Darryl. He greeted me and immediately told me that he had received and read the books I had sent him and he had just finished writing his story and he wanted to write a screenplay as well. The next day I read the rough draft of the book and we started working to improve it as well as write the script.
M.O.I. JR: How long did it take to finish the new book “Weight”? How long did it take to film the documentary?
Dennis Haywood: Like I said, the book was rough when I saw D, but it was complete. It has taken a couple of years to get the book where it is today. We were diligent with the editing process. Too many books from small publishers are mistake ridden and we didn’t want that. We believe that we have a quality product that we took a lot of pride in doing, because “Weight” is from and about a special man.
We are still editing the documentary and some major figures in The Bay have participated and have been interviewed, including rappers like Too Short, E-40 and Husalah. We interviewed attorneys and journalists such as the Minister of Info JR Valrey and William Wong.
M.O.I. JR: Can you be more specific about what the book and the documentary is about? How are they similar? How are they different?
Dennis Haywood: The book is simply an American story. I have read it several times and I feel like D took me along his journey with him. And for him to be 20 years old when he was arrested, he lived an exciting life because of his wealth. The story was Darryl’s to tell, and he told it well. In the end he wants no child to take the path he took, but the only way to inform the youth is to share our past experiences with them.
There are a lot of 20-year-old Black men and women that don’t know their fathers because their fathers have been incarcerated their whole lives and some of them don’t understand why their fathers have been gone so long.
In the documentary, we tell Darryl’s story, but we are also attacking the Anti-Drug Act of 1986 and the Sentence Reform Act of 1984. There is no doubt that the 1986 act was created solely for the punishment of young Black men. The United States government tried to make us all the scapegoats for their Iran-Contra funding.
George Bush Sr., Oliver North and Ronald Reagan all benefited from cocaine sales in the 1980s. The cover-up was Nancy Reagan’s sham called “The War on Drugs” and her “Just Say No” campaign. “The War on Drugs” has been one of the biggest con jobs the government has played on the people. It was “The War on the Black Family in America.”
Darryl was given a 35-year sentence at 20 years old, and he didn’t kill anyone or force anyone to walk down the block to purchase drugs. He was actually a nonviolent person.
M.O.I. JR: What is the overall message that Lil’ D is putting out in “Weight”?
Dennis Haywood: Darryl’s message is to be strong and a leader, but use your productive and unique skills for self-improvement instead of negativity, especially in your own community. Darryl wants the community to be the village that it once was. He knows that he took part in destroying it and now he wants to give back and to help build it back up.
Because of Darryl, Concrete Jungle Publishing and Holdin’ Weight Productions are giving a back-to-school picnic at the end of the month for the kids returning to Lockwood Elementary this year. We are looking for sponsors, because we plan to give each kid enough supplies to last the school year.
M.O.I. JR: Where can people get “Weight”?
Dennis Haywood: “Weight” is available in The Bay at Marcus Bookstores in Oakland and San Francisco and online at www.concretejunglebooks.com.
M.O.I. JR: What is Lil’ D’s life like on a daily basis?
Dennis Haywood: Darryl studies every day. The stock market, local news, sports, lifestyles – he reads constantly and he helps me now. If I want to know about IRAs or hedge funds, I contact Darryl and ask him about it. He knows how to do LLC’s and legal work. He doesn’t eat meat and hasn’t since he was a kid, so he exercises and treats his body like a temple.
M.O.I. JR: Out of everybody that you met in jail, why did you pick Lil’ D as the subject of a book you are publishing and the documentary?
Dennis Haywood: Everyone who knows Darryl is fascinated by him. Regardless of the reason he went to prison, I want everyone to know that he is much heavier than that.
Before people judge, I would ask them to ask themselves what they would have done at 16 if they knew they could get rich illegally. Then ask if they could have handled the weight of being a millionaire through free enterprise at the age of 18. Everyone caves to temptation at times, but punishment has to be just, not cruel.
M.O.I. JR: When does the documentary come out?
Dennis Haywood: Hopefully we will have screenings of the documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in February and the release should be shortly afterwards, because we are coming with a completely independent project of top quality.
M.O.I. JR: What else can we expect from Concrete Jungle Publishing and your film company?
Dennis Haywood: Concrete Jungle Publishing has several titles out right now and we are also publishing our second biography about James Beasley of San Francisco as well as doing the documentary. We are building our own media conglomerate so we can produce the projects and product we want without censoring our journey.