from innocense

Ramiah Whiteside 243376
SCI, 100 Corrections Drive
Stanley, WI 54768

March 1,2009
Dear Public Officials:

My name is Ramiah Whiteside and I am writing to you in hopes that you can answer some of my questions or give me some feedback on my concerns.

At the age of seven, my future was still promising. Even thought from birth up until the age of seven was no picnic, my future was still promising. Growing up with no father and a mom who was an alcoholic was never easy. Right at birth i bounced around from home to home, family to family. Even though we were very poor, I still managed to smile because i had the hope of a prince. Growing up in the projects or downtrodden areas of the city always had challenges. By the age of seven i had seen so much and i had been exposed to so much that my future was beginning to narrow, but i did not know it.

As a kid, i never knew anything else but what was around me. Being poor was normal. Being around drugs and alcohol was normal. Seeing violence was normal. Not having anything to eat sometimes was normal. Not having any heat sometimes was normal. Not having any electricity sometimes was normal. Not being able to really enjoy being a child was normal. Survival takes precedence over being a child and having fun. in spite of all these obstacles and more, I still wanted to be sometimes in life. At the age of seven, it really did not matter what i was as long as it something more than what was around me. at the time, I did not know that hope was for other people.
Growing up within an abusive and extremely dysfunctional environment was as normal as growing up within a loving and caring home. Even at the age of seven with verbal abuse, the emotional abuse, the physical abuse, and the sexual abuse, I kept believing that things were more good than bad. No matter how dire the circumstances I still tried to have hope, that unknown luxury.

It is 2009 and i am no longer seven years old. It would be nice to tell you that even after so many obstacles that seven year old little boy managed to make it in life. Unfortunately, that seven year old boy gave up hope. As an happened to him. why did her give up? Looking around me each day, I see many seven year old kids trying to make their way through life just like I once did. The sad part is, I am in an adult institution. None of us grew up aspiring to be prisoners, yet, here we are. We made bad decisions and poor choices and that is why we are where we are. The road that led to prison started long ago though. It is not about me, or us anymore. It is about the seven year olds of today and tomorrow. Will their road lead to prison too? Will they give up too? How many more seven year olds will bypass college for prison? Have we seen enough?

I will conclude be saying, the hope i once had as that seven year old kid has found me again, It is not a hope for me, just as this letter is not about me. The hope I have is for the seven year olds of today and tomorrow. The ones that grow up too fast. The ones that are abused every day. The ones that are exposed to unconscionable traumas. The ones that still believe in spite of it all. The ones that we forget about because they have no voice. I have hope that they will persevere and break the cycle.

As a child I was hurt many, many times, on many many days, but that was still no reason for me to grow up and hurts others; and yet, that is what happened. Please look at the seven year old boy in the photo. He had potential. He had promise. He could have been President. For the seven year olds of today and tomorrow, we need to nurture their hope and build on their potential so they can grow up to be public officials like you, or maybe even president.
Thank you all for your time. Hopefully I can be a part of a brighter future instead of a reminder of a broken past.
Respectfully, Ramiah A. Whiteside

Letter in response and transcription of test below.

July 2, 2009
Mr. Ramiah A. Whiteside
Post Office Box 4000
New Lisbon, Wisconsin 53950-4000
Dear Ramiah:
Thank you for your note and for sharing your views with me.
Active citizens are the cornerstone of our democracy, and so I thank you for engaging in the important work of true citizenship. Our strength as a country and our ability to responsibly shape our future depends on informed and impassioned Americans.
Our President's views on a variety of issues are available online at, where you can explore his agenda and stay updated on news from the White House. I urge you to stay active by sharing your thoughts online or by addressing needs in your community as we confront the challenges of this important moment for our Nation.
Thank you again for writing. I wish you all the best.
Sincerely, Michelle Obama


  1. Hey Ramiah it's Erika your sis, I miss you and still pray for you and I am proud you are choosing to be positive. Keep up the good work.

  2. So glad you are keeping your head up. You have become a even greater man helping others through your bad choices. Im so proud of you and want you to know that you will always be apart of my heart. You were always a loving caring person to me. Now the world gets to see how compassionate you really are. Wow its been 18+ years since we seen each other. However im glad you have turned around for the better. God bless you!!