Todd’s Difficult Upbringing and Struggles with Poverty

In “Todd’s Difficult Upbringing and Struggles with Poverty,” the video by Soft White Underbelly shares the powerful story of Todd, a retired prison corrections officer from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Todd opens up about his childhood, growing up in Philadelphia, and eventually moving to California at a young age to escape his mother’s drug addiction. He reflects on the challenges he endured, such as his father’s involvement in selling drugs and subsequent arrest, leaving Todd and his brother to clean up their trashed apartment and fend for themselves. Despite facing financial hardships and relying on food stamps, Todd persevered, working odd jobs and grinding to make ends meet. The article also touches on the loss of Todd’s mother to a drug overdose, his experiences as a prison corrections officer, and his belief in the power of mentorship and giving back to young people.

In the follow-up interview, Soft White Underbelly delves deeper into Todd’s personal life and previous occupations, allowing viewers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of his journey. Todd shares details about his upbringing, the difficulties his family faced, and the lack of support they received after his mother’s passing. He sheds light on the challenges he encountered as a cop and discusses his encounters with mentally unstable inmates. Additionally, Todd shares insights on race dynamics and the importance of communication and de-escalation within the prison system. Throughout the interview, Todd’s resilience and determination shine through, demonstrating his ability to overcome adversity and find success despite his challenging background.

Todds Difficult Upbringing and Struggles with Poverty

Table of Contents

Childhood and Early Life

Growing up in Philadelphia

You grew up in Philadelphia with your parents and older brother. However, your mother struggled with drug addiction, which made your childhood challenging. Your father also had a difficult upbringing, as he was sent to military school at a young age. Despite these circumstances, your family tried to make the best of it.

Moving to California to escape mother’s drug habits

At the age of nine, you and your family decided to move to California to escape your mother’s drug habits. The hope was that by starting fresh in a new environment, your mother would be able to leave her addiction behind. Unfortunately, this move did not solve the problem entirely, and she continued to struggle with drugs on and off.

Mother’s struggle with drug addiction

Your mother’s battle with drug addiction had a significant impact on your childhood. Coming home from school and finding her high on prescription drugs or shooting up cocaine was a common occurrence. As a young child, you had to navigate this challenging environment and make decisions like whether or not to bring friends over, depending on your mother’s state.

Father’s involvement in selling drugs and going to jail

To make matters worse, your father eventually got involved in selling drugs. The police caught him, and he went to jail, leaving you and your brother to fend for yourselves. The authorities raided your apartment, trashing it in the process. In the aftermath of the arrest, it was up to you and your brother to clean up the mess and try to piece your lives back together.

Cleaning up trashed apartment after father’s arrest

After your father’s arrest, you and your brother were left with the daunting task of cleaning up the trashed apartment. The police search had left everything in disarray, with cereal boxes overturned and pillows ripped apart. Despite the emotional weight of the situation, you both took on the responsibility and worked late into the night to restore some semblance of order.

Struggles with Poverty

Working odd jobs

To make ends meet, you took on various odd jobs during your adolescence. Whether it was washing cars, selling candy door-to-door, or collecting cans, you did whatever it took to earn some money. These early experiences instilled in you a strong work ethic and a willingness to do whatever it takes to survive and provide for yourself and your family.

Relying on food stamps

Living in poverty meant relying on government assistance, such as food stamps. Despite any stigma associated with it, you accepted the help graciously because it meant putting food on the table. Top Ramen and cup noodles became familiar staples in your diet, reinforcing the challenging circumstances you faced.

Living in poverty

As a result of your family’s financial struggles, you experienced firsthand what it meant to live in poverty. The lack of money to afford basic necessities took a toll on you and your brother. However, rather than allowing it to define your future, you used it as motivation to strive for a better life.

Lack of money to attend grandfather’s funeral

Tragedy struck when your mother’s father, your grandfather, was shot and killed in his own bar back in Philadelphia. The family could not afford to send you and your brother to the funeral due to financial constraints. This absence created a profound sense of loss and added to the challenges you faced during that period.

Mother’s overdose and passing away

The weight of your mother’s addiction became too much to bear, and she tragically overdosed and passed away when you were just 18 years old. This loss left a void in your life and further reinforced the need for you to take control of your own destiny.

Using own money to bury mom

After your mother’s passing, you had to take on the responsibility of arranging and paying for her burial. Despite the financial burden, you used your own money to ensure that she received a proper farewell. This act of love and respect showcased your resilience and determination to honor your mother’s memory.

Surviving and Grinding

Working and grinding to make ends meet

After your mother’s death, you had no choice but to continue working and grinding to make ends meet. With no support or check-ins from anyone after her passing, you took on the responsibility of providing for yourself. This unwavering work ethic became the foundation for your future success.

No support or check-ins after mom’s death

The absence of support or check-ins from anyone after your mother’s death was a stark reality. It made you realize that you had to rely on yourself and your inner strength to navigate through life’s challenges. This realization cultivated a fierce spirit of independence and determination to create a better future for yourself.

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Brother working part-time and going to school

Your older brother, despite facing his own set of challenges, stepped up and worked part-time while attending school. His dedication to his education and determination to build a better life for himself and his family inspired you to do the same. The strong bond between you and your brother became a source of strength and support during these difficult times.

Graduating high school despite lack of support

Against all odds, you managed to graduate from high school despite the lack of support and guidance. While it wasn’t an easy journey, you recognized the importance of education and persevered to secure a brighter future for yourself.

Having a rough childhood

Your childhood was far from easy, filled with challenges and hardships that most people would struggle to comprehend. The adversity you faced shaped your character and gave you the resilience to overcome any obstacles that came your way.

Confidence and lack of excuses

Despite the difficult circumstances you faced, you never made excuses for yourself. Instead, you developed a strong sense of confidence and a belief that you could achieve anything you set your mind to. This mindset allowed you to transcend the limitations that others might have imposed on you due to your background.

Fight or flight mentality

Growing up in a challenging environment where survival was a daily struggle, you developed a “fight or flight” mentality. This intense mindset propelled you to take risks, seize opportunities, and never settle for less. It became the driving force behind your unwavering determination to succeed.

Strong bond with older brother

The strong bond you shared with your older brother was a lifeline during the most trying moments of your life. Together, you faced adversity head-on, supporting and inspiring each other to push through the toughest of times. The unconditional love and camaraderie between you and your brother became instrumental in your journey toward success.

Success despite challenging upbringing

Despite the numerous challenges you faced growing up, you refused to let your past dictate your future. Through hard work, determination, and an unwavering belief in yourself, you defied the odds and achieved remarkable success. Your triumph over adversity serves as a testament to your resilience and relentless pursuit of a better life.

Living life to the fullest

Every day, you take joy in living life to the fullest. After enduring so much hardship throughout your childhood and early adulthood, you understand the importance of embracing every opportunity and cherishing each moment. Your journey has taught you the value of resilience, gratitude, and embracing all that life has to offer.

Interests and Background

Friendships with different ethnic backgrounds

One of the positive aspects of your upbringing was the diverse friendships you formed with individuals from various ethnic backgrounds. These friendships provided you with a broad perspective and allowed you to appreciate and celebrate cultural differences. They influenced your worldview and enhanced your understanding of the value of diversity.

Love for music and involvement in hip-hop culture

Growing up during the era of hip-hop culture, you developed a deep love for music. The influence of this cultural movement shaped your identity and connected you to a larger community. Whether it was breakdancing or immersing yourself in the genre’s vibrant music scene, hip-hop became an integral part of your life.

Breakdancing and low rider cars

Breakdancing and low rider cars were two aspects of hip-hop culture that captivated your interest. Through breakdancing, you found an outlet for self-expression and a means of connecting with others who shared your passion. Similarly, low rider cars provided a canvas for creativity and a means of showcasing your unique style.

Being a CEO and the impact of background

Your journey from a challenging childhood to becoming a successful CEO highlighted the impact of your background on your professional life. The resilience and determination you developed through your early experiences shaped your leadership style and approach to business. Your background instilled in you a sense of humility and appreciation for the opportunities you’ve been given.

Comfort with being poor and on food stamps

Coming from a background of poverty and relying on government assistance such as food stamps, you developed a unique perspective on wealth and material possessions. While you have achieved success, you remain grounded and comfortable with your past. Your experiences have taught you that happiness and fulfillment come from within, rather than external circumstances.

Attributing survival and success to luck and each other

Despite the remarkable success you have achieved, you humbly attribute much of it to luck and the support of your loved ones. Recognizing the role that circumstances and the people around you played in your journey is a testament to your humility and gratitude.

Long-lasting marriage and family

Your personal life has been characterized by a long-lasting marriage and the joy of raising a family. For over 20 years, you have been married to your spouse, who has been by your side for over 30 years. The stability and love within your family have provided a strong foundation and a source of unwavering support throughout your life.

Previous occupations as a mailman and a CEO

Before becoming a CEO, you worked as a mailman, an occupation that exposed you to diverse communities and experiences. This job provided you with firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by others, further shaping your compassion and understanding. Eventually, you transitioned into a leadership role as a CEO, utilizing the skills and experiences gained throughout your life.

Desire to learn from older people and absorb knowledge

Throughout your life, you have had an insatiable desire to learn from older individuals and absorb their wisdom. Recognizing the value of experience and knowledge, you sought guidance and mentorship from those who had walked the path before you. This commitment to continuous growth and learning has been a driving force in your personal and professional development.

Todds Difficult Upbringing and Struggles with Poverty

Challenges of Being a Cop

Dealing with difficult personalities at work

As a prison corrections officer, you faced the daily challenge of dealing with difficult personalities at work. Working in a prison environment meant encountering individuals with varying levels of aggression, manipulation, and disrespect. Your ability to navigate these situations with professionalism and empathy played a crucial role in maintaining order and ensuring the safety of both staff and inmates.

Dark and dangerous nature of prisons

Prisons are inherently dark and dangerous environments, and you witnessed this firsthand throughout your career. The isolation, desperation, and violence that permeate the prison system created a unique set of challenges for you as a corrections officer. Your dedication to upholding order and promoting rehabilitation amidst these conditions required bravery and resilience.

Manipulation and harm of prison guards by inmates

Inmates often used manipulation and planned attacks to harm or undermine prison guards. These tactics presented significant threats to your safety and the safety of your colleagues. Your ability to remain vigilant, trust your instincts, and continually refine your assessment skills helped you navigate these dangerous situations.

Belief in the existence of innocent inmates

Your time as a corrections officer exposed you to a system that was not without flaws. You encountered instances where you believed some inmates were innocent and had been wrongfully convicted. This realization challenged your perceptions of the justice system and reinforced the importance of fairness and due process.

Possibility of rehabilitation and education in prisons

Despite the bleakness of the prison environment, you held on to the belief that rehabilitation and education had the power to transform lives. Witnessing the impact of educational programs and counseling on inmates instilled in you a sense of hope and a desire to contribute to their rehabilitation.

Encounters with mentally unstable and dangerous inmates

Working in prisons meant encountering individuals with severe mental health issues, making your job even more challenging. The unpredictability and potential for violence associated with mentally unstable inmates demanded constant alertness and the development of de-escalation techniques to ensure the safety of all involved.

Difference between good and bad prison guards

Not all prison guards approached their job with the same level of professionalism and integrity. You recognized that there was a stark difference between good and bad guards, with some exhibiting behavior that was as detrimental as that of the inmates themselves. Your commitment to being a positive influence and holding yourself to a high standard set you apart from your peers.

Interacting with inmates based on their crimes

Reading inmates’ C files and understanding the details of their crimes allowed you to approach interactions with them more effectively. This insight influenced your ability to gauge their potential for rehabilitation, adjust your approach accordingly, and maintain a balance between authority and empathy.

Tattoos and race dynamics in prison

Tattoos and race dynamics played a significant role within the prison environment. You witnessed firsthand how tattoos served as badges of honor, marking inmates’ loyalty to certain groups or symbolizing their involvement in criminal activities. The complex race dynamics within prisons created a unique social hierarchy that impacted inmate interactions and safety.

Segregation and separation of races in prison

Prisons often saw a stark segregation and separation of races, with distinct groups forming along racial lines. This division was sometimes self-imposed for protection, but it also resulted in heightened tensions and violence between different racial groups. Your role as a corrections officer required you to navigate these dynamics while maintaining order and fairness.

Famous inmates encountered

Throughout your career, you encountered famous inmates who garnered public attention due to their crimes. From notorious criminals like Richard Ramirez to high-profile cases such as the Menendez brothers, you witnessed firsthand the impact of their crimes and the unique challenges they posed within the prison system.

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Relationships with women on the outside

Inmates often formed relationships with women on the outside through letters and occasional conjugal visits. These connections provided emotional support and a sense of normalcy during their time in prison. As a corrections officer, you observed these relationships and the impact they had on inmates’ well-being and behavior.

Interactions with Lawrence Phillips

One notable inmate you interacted with was Lawrence Phillips, a former football player who made headlines for his involvement in criminal activities. Your interactions with him allowed you to witness firsthand his struggles with mental health and the challenges he faced in a prison setting. The experience provided insight into the complexities of rehabilitation and the unique circumstances faced by individuals with high public profiles.

Importance of communication and de-escalation

As a corrections officer, effective communication and de-escalation techniques were essential skills you had to develop. Maintaining open lines of communication and diffusing tense situations not only ensured your safety but also helped foster an environment of respect among inmates.

Violence and riots in prison

The prison environment was not immune to violence and occasional riots. Disputes between inmates, racial tensions, or even perceived disrespect could escalate into dangerous situations. Your training, interpersonal skills, and ability to maintain a sense of calm became critical in diffusing these situations and preventing widespread violence.

Prisoners choosing to rehabilitate themselves

Despite the challenging circumstances of the prison system, some inmates chose to pursue rehabilitation and keep a low profile. Witnessing these individual transformations reaffirmed your belief in the power of personal growth and second chances. These instances showcased the possibility of change and redemption within the prison system.

Smuggling of items in prison

The smuggling of contraband, such as phones or weapons, was a common occurrence within the prison system. Inmates found creative ways to bring items into the facility, posing a constant threat to the safety of everyone involved. Your vigilance and commitment to maintaining security helped mitigate these risks and preserve order within the prison.

Importance of mentorship and giving back

Throughout your career as a corrections officer, you recognized the importance of mentorship and giving back to young people. Sharing your experiences and wisdom with the next generation became a personal mission, as you aimed to guide young individuals away from a path of crime and toward a more positive future. Your commitment to helping others reflected your own journey of resilience and growth.

Your life’s journey, from a challenging childhood to a successful career in law enforcement, serves as an inspiration to many. Your ability to overcome adversity, maintain empathy and compassion, and contribute to the rehabilitation of inmates highlights the transformative power of resilience and determination. Your experiences have not only shaped your own character but have also provided valuable insight into the complexities of the human spirit.

If you’re interested in learning more about Todd’s difficult upbringing and struggles with poverty, you can watch his interview and portrait on Soft White Underbelly. Todd, a former prison corrections officer in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, shares his story in this video.

Additionally, if you would like to support some of the individuals featured in the SWU interviews, you can contribute to their GoFundMe campaign through this link: GoFundMe campaign.

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