Street literature has become quite popular over the years due to society’s fascination with promiscuity, violence, love, lust and juicy drama. While authors may rely on those story lines to produce passionate love stories reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde, Rodney Wilson chose to use his talents to share terrifying tales from the streets to deter the youth from heading in that direction.
Trouble Came Much Too Early For Wilson
Born and raised on Chicago’s West Side. A very young and impressionable Wilson became involved in the street life. It happened at such an early age that it’s hard for him to determine approximately when it began.
“Honestly, I don’t remember ever not being in a gang. I just grew up in it. It is what surrounded us. I grew up in the heart of it,” said Wilson.
By the tender age of sweet sixteen, Wilson was already fighting his first case. Charged with murder after an opposing gang member’s failed robbery attempt, Wilson was tried and convicted.
Victory over “Doing the Time”
“I have always had the philosophy ‘I am not going to let the time do me. I am going to do the time.’”
Trying to make the best of an unfortunate reality the imprisoned scholar set a goal to excel academically.
“Since I am here, I am going to get everything I can to better myself in life and better my chances once I am free to become someone productive in society.” With that mission in mind, Rodney studied relentlessly, earning multiple academic credentials. Wilson earned his GED, A vocational degree in Building Maintenance, and two associates’ degrees (Arts & Media and Liberal Studies).
The Call of the Streets Wins Again
Eager to learn and earn as many academic credentials as possible, Wilson had taken on the quest to obtain his bachelor’s degree.
“I always loved school, so I was going to get every degree possible. I was working on my bachelor’s, but I was released before I could finish.”
Released in his prime, age 22, Wilson was working full-time as while maintaining his avid pursuit of education by taking classes. Seemingly on the road to redemption and doing well for himself, the love of the street life couldn’t be rebuked. Consequently, the wordsmith found himself back in an all too familiar setting, a jail cell.
Victory the Second Time Around
While serving his second stint, Wilson decided to once again go with what came naturally. He dove into his education to distract himself. “Education was easy for me. It was never a challenge.”
As he takes a moment to reflect, Wilson expresses his disappointment. “I always wish that I’d never…” As he stops to pause and gather his thoughts he continues, “I wished that my circumstances were different and I didn’t have this X on me. But, I always say that with this X I am still going to be who I am destined to be.”
An Innocent Decision, A Third Arrest
Still determined to rise above the mistakes of his past, Wilson was a free man again. The now young and educated adult was determined to stay on the right path completely this time. Who would have known a decision to attend a small holiday party of a friend would result in him being undeservingly arrested and facing charges.
Now serving his third prison sentence, he admittedly said he’d become a bit bitter.
“I was a little bitter at first, but I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. I try to find the good in everything. So I said ‘You know what, maybe God put me here to save me. I could have gotten killed out there or anything.’”
One Door Closes, Another Opens
Wilson’s usual escape in the pursuit of higher education while being incarcerated was not available this time around. He was in a federal prison. In the federal prison system, the highest educational credential a prisoner can earn is a GED. Therefore, Wilson decided he’d used this time to grow spiritually and get more in tune with himself. However his love for reading never dissipated.
“I like to read and I like urban novels.” Yet, after reading one novel after another, the street literature aficionado was unimpressed. “I read a few of them and I didn’t like them because they weren’t realistic. So I wrote a book.” Wilson had been told of other imprisoned authors being given publishing deals. However, being the businessman and brain that he is, he knew that he would be better off owning his own body of work.
ThoroughBred Publications Founded from Prison
“I heard about the guys inside that get publishing deals and I decided I’m not going to let a publishing company make money off of me,” he said. He decided, “ I’ll publish myself.”
That was how ThoroughBred Publications began. “I had a team of people on the outside, mostly family members and friends that did designs, graphics, and my website.
Wilson continued to say, “I researched printing companies myself and I started a publishing company from prison.”
Light from ThoroughBred Shows a Better Way
Wilson’s mission is not to glamorize or highlight the lifestyle he’s lived, but rather to show others that there’s a better way through fictional narratives based on real life. “I have never seen a drug dealer live happily ever after.” Wilson drives home the hard truth that the only way out of the cycles of incarceration is life-altering injuries or death.
Wilson is currently writing three more books including one nonfiction about his life and continuing the series “Chi Life, My Life.” He is adamant about using his time, talent and resources to steer the youth in a positive direction.
“I want to show that there is a better way and so much more out there for you if you just strive to work your way out of the nonsense going on.”
By overcoming a lifetime of mistakes that seem too horrible for even the toughest gangster in any novel, Wilson proved a very important point. That is that you can pave a new road over a past path of terrible mistakes and still be successful.
You can purchase his book from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/CHI-LIFE-DONT-GET-TWISTED-ebook/dp/B007R6FD16