It’s been a year and some change since an Essence Bestselling Author has hooked up with the legendary Martha Stewart for a chat. Especially since Ms. Stewart sought her out. Well for Wahida Clark, she has more than that to look forward to in the upcoming year. 2007, Lord willing will see not only the release of her highly anticipated fourth novel, Thug Matrimony, a release from the Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia where she is serving 125 months for conspiracy/money laundering, mail and wire fraud. Her accomplishments in spite of her situation merit the standing ovation, some white roses and a legion of fans on the magical day when she walks out of prison. Wahida chose Jarold Imes for her interview to address her fans, literary critics and to show that there is love behind these bars.
Jarold: Wahida, tell me about your upbringing? What was life like before the sentence? Wahida Clark: What’s average? I came up in the hood and you know how that is. Survival of the fittest. Welfare, food stamps, government cheese, weed, boosting, partying. I had the average dysfunctional family, (smile). I always had a roof over my head and clothes on my back. Single parent home in the projects, Donnelly Homes, until I was about 9 or 10 then we moved to the West Side of Trenton with my Aunt Ann and Uncle John. May he rest in peace. That was all love. Before I was incarcerated, I was running my businesses and working a 9 to 5. Ironically, working the 9 to 5 is how I caught my case.
Jarold: So I take it that you went to trial? Wahida Clark: I took my case to trial and loss. That’s right. This sista here lives by the code: Death before Dishonor. However, I lost two appeals so I don't hit the bricks until 07.
Jarold: Hmm, Death before Dishonor. So you don't have any love for those who snitch? Wahida Clark: Not at all. When everything is going good, they eating, balling, and getting paid, taking care of their families, it's all gravy and they are happy to play their part. But as soon as the shit hits the fan their weakness and hypocrisy gets put on blast. The sad thing is without snitches the government 98% of the time doesn't have a case. Snitches tell the things that the government wasn't even aware of. If everyone on my case would have stood tall we all would have walked.
Jarold: So how has prison affected your views on life? Wahida Clark: I appreciate being with and having a family that much more. I no longer take the simple things in life for granted. Freedom. My physical freedom is truly valued. If you have been locked down, or did time with a loved one you understand what I’m saying.
Jarold: How are you being treated by guards and inmates? Wahida Clark: My fellow inmates show me lots of love and support. The guards, I stay out of their way and treat them with respect, so they can only do the same for me.
Jarold: Everyone is fascinated with the fact that you got to roll with Martha Stewart. Tell us what she was like? Wahida Clark: I didn’t hang out with her. I met with her on several occasions. She put together a Business Seminar, with us allowing the guests to pick her brain. And I met with her to go over my business plan for my publishing company. She gave me some very valuable feedback. Martha is cool. She did her little five months like a trooper and was always willing to help you out if she could. Plus my agent used to date her niece and told her to look me up when she got here. Which she did. The first day she hit the compound she was asking who knows Wahida Clark. By that evening I had got the message and I went to meet her. I thought she was going to be standoffish. But she was the total opposite, to my surprise.
Jarold: So how did the inmates treat her? Wahida Clark: Whenever I got with her it was always on a business tip. So I didnít always see how the rest of the population was treating her. You always gonna have your haters and I would hear different comments. But me? I'm not a hater. I’m a congratulator. I’m trying to get where she is. She is big time. Certified Gangster for real. Whenever you can do time and turn on the preview channel and see your TV show getting ready to air: That’s Big! Whenever you can do time and your magazines are coming out every month: That’s Big! Whenever you can do time and two major retail chains that carry your products merge and you make a billion: That’s Big! Whenever you can do time and your stock from your company is steadily rising: That’s Big! Whenever you can do time and when you set your foot out the gate and a TV show is waiting for you: Thatís Big! Whenever you can do time and bounce on your own private jet: That's Big! You get my point? I think she’s a brilliant businesswoman.
Jarold: Speaking of business, tell us about your upcoming projects and Thug Matrimony. Wahida Clark: Well, I have an anthology coming out called, What is Really Hood? Vol. I. It is an Anthology of five blazing hood stories, by Victor Martin (A Hood Legend), Shawn “Jihad” Trump, Bonta, myself and introducing Mo Foxx. Everyone is on lock. Then in April '07, the highly anticipated, Thug Matrimony drops. Ninety-eight percent of my readers, hit me up and say, “Wahida, we love Payback is a Mutha, but…whats up with Snake? Angel's Wedding? Is Trae dead? Please don’t leave us hanging like that.” Well, all of the answers are in the highly anticipated Thug Matrimony.
Jarold: How do you keep your ear to the streets that is in literary business? How do you know what is going on with your books? Wahida Clark: I read, I watch, I learn, I study. My team at home is whats really good: my husband, my sisters-in-law and my daughters, Hasana and Wahida.