Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Whitehouse Boys by Roger Dean Kiser et al

The White House Boys: An American Tragedy, Roger Dean Kiser et. al.  self-published:, 2011.

A Brotherhood of Children I: The White House Boys: A Compilation of Stories, RogerDean Kiser.  self-published:, 2011.

A Brotherhood of Children II: The White House Boys: A Compilation of Stories, Roger Dean Kiser.  self-published:, 2011.  

Roger Dean Kiser had a tough childhood.  He ran away from the orphanage where the matron was sexually abusing him, only to find himself labeled incorrigible and carted off to Marianna.  The grounds were well-kept.  Unfortunately for Roger and the other boys, the place held some evil secrets.

There was a small building, referred to as the "white house" by the white boys and as the "ice cream building" by the black boys across the road.  [The juveniles were kept apart based on perceived race and skin coloration-- thus the white boys and the black boys].  In the building was a waiting room of sorts, where the boys waited their turns to go into the small room with a bed for their turn at being flogged.

The bed held a pillow-- which was bloodied and soiled-- a frame the boys were instructed to hold on to, and a large fan to drown out their screams.  The boy was assigned so many lashes which could be started over again if he cried out or tried to escape.  He was flogged by a large heavy strap with a steel razor set in the middle of it-- until his buttocks, back and legs turned black.  Some boys had to have pieces of their underwear surgically removed from their skin afterwards.  The punishment was brutal.  

Roger Dean Kiser and the other boys suffered long-term consequences from these floggings as adults.  There were reported back problems, bad marriages, difficulties in getting along.  Some suffered nightmares; others repressed the memories for years.  Through a website and some media coverage, the boys now men began to find each other again.  Thus these three books.

In truth, Kiser is not the sole author of these three e-books.  Other survivors of Marianna and Okeechobee had gotten in touch.  Their stories have also been included, along with a few stories of family members of a few boys who did not survive.

The Whitehouse Boys, in particular, develops the history of the juvenile prison at Marianna.  Although the State of Florida claimed that the beatings stopped in 1962, there is some indication that they went on for a time afterwards.  The White House was officially sealed by the State in a ceremony which Kiser and several other survivors got to attend.

sapphoq reviews says:  A bit of the material is repeated throughout these three books.  The history that Roger Dean Kiser and the others relate is important enough that the trilogy deserve to have a sensitive and careful editing job.  The three books are very much worth reading even so.  Like other books dealing with evidence of an abuse culture among those who work with children and teens in residential facilities, The White House Boys and the two volumes of memoirs make for difficult reading.  

The thing that strikes me most about the stories coming out of the troubled teen industry is the lack of conscience among those who work in these placesThe White House Boys also tells of a Rape Room located below the dining room, and at least one cemetery in the woods.  Like the troubled teen troubled industry, some boys did not make it out alive.  Others were beaten and/or raped.  That our society continues to allow these practices is astonishing.

Highly recommended.  Those who are in the know will find a new determination to continue working to end the existence of these highly abusive institutions.  Those who don't know will come away horrified, yet with a new understanding about what we are doing to our teens, the hope of the future. 

*The first book has been referred to as both The Whitehouse Boys and The White House Boys.*

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