A typical 9-year-old boy spends his time going to school, playing with friends, riding his bike, and playing with toys. Christmases and birthdays are filled with parties and excitement, wrapping paper quickly ripped from the gifts in anticipation of that special game or toy.
But what if he is Black and living in deep poverty with his single mom and three sisters? Instead of playing with friends and toys, his days are filled with watching his mom struggle to provide food and a warm place to sleep. Not wanting to add to the pressure on his mother, he knows not to ask for the “extras” like birthday and Christmas gifts. There is no money for things others may take for granted, like comic books and new sneakers.
He tries convincing his mom he does not like toys and comics because he does not want to put pressure on her. For a while, he even convinces himself that he does not like Nike’s or toys or comic books. But he is just a little kid, and deep down, in his heart, he wants them.
That was the life of William “Bud” Whitehorn, a young Black kid growing up in Chicago. One thing he was not lacking was compassion for his mom as he tried to help ease the pressure, an unfair burden for any 9-year-old to bear.
As he got older, Whitehorn’s life headed down an all too familiar path for kids in similar situations, to prison.
“You go to the schools, and the schools tell you that you should be scientists, lawyers, astronauts and these things like that.,” he said. “ But when you leave those school doors the people that are making the most money, are the most successful, have the biggest houses, the most respect, and the biggest cars in the neighborhood were the drug dealers and the gang members.”
- William “Bud” Whitehorn
How does a drug dealing, gang banging, convicted felon from Chicago become the Community Liaison helping to shape the future of policing in Rochester? Whitehorn joined our podcast, The Other Side of the Table, this week to talk about the road that led him here.