By Tiarsha Harrison
Ronnie Sidney, II, LCSW, a native of a small town named Tappahannock, Virginia sat down with me to share his life’s trials and tribulations. “Chris Brown puts us on the map. He actually rode my school bus and attended the church my father preached at,” he shares.
Although he had a rough experience with his peers growing up, Sidney’s family was his strongest and most reliable support system. “My family put an emphasis on education and had a major part of my upbringing to where I am today. I watched both my parents graduate from college as I was growing up. Although I struggled, they always continued to encourage me and let me know I was smart. It was difficult attending Essex High School. The first week of school I was placed in a self-contained special education class. It was one of the most disheartening experiences I’ve ever had. During the same year, I had a pre-algebra teacher tell me I wasn’t going to college. I had to learn how to advocate for myself to get placement in classes that prepared students for college.”
Instead of letting the voice of naysayers get in his head and determine his future, Sidney created his own destiny with the help of some great leaders. “My former special education teacher encouraged me to tell my story and I took it literally. I wanted to write the book I wish I had written when I was in middle school.” That is how Nelson Beats the Odds was born, a novel sharing Sidney’s story with the world of how he faced and overcame bullying at a young age.
His first novel jump started his career and before he knew it, events were happening all at once in an exciting and exhilarating pace, including another story. “When I first got started publishing books, I was averaging an event a week. Now, I participate in roughly one event a month. Author visits to schools are my absolute favorite thing to do. I encourage youth to tell their own stories and make a living as an author.”
His second novel, Tameka’s New Dress is nothing short of a success. “Tameka’s New Dress is a story about a young girl who is going through a difficult time at home and school. Tameka’s grandmother sews her a new dress to help her cope with bullying. The new dress gives Tameka the confidence she needs to overcome her traumatic past and stand up to a bully named Mesha.”
Sidney is not only an author, he’s also a motivator who created a movement called Creative Medicine, Healing through Words, LLC. “Writing has always been a passion of mine and I see it as a healing tool. While I was in my final year at VCU, I started a therapeutic writing group at the Northern Neck Regional Jail. My original goal was to turn it into a therapeutic writing program I could host at libraries, schools and prisons.”
Aside from writing and impacting others for the better, Sidney spends his free time with his growing and adoring family. “I originally met my wife at a community college I was working at. We reconnected on Facebook a few years later and the rest is history. Having a family is the greatest thing ever! My family definitely gives me the motivation to push myself personally and professionally.”
Being busy and active has its perks and it can be a lot to handle at times. “It is difficult juggling so many different careers. After my mother passed away from cancer in 2017, I made a pledge to be more present in the lives of my children. In 2018, my wife and I added another addition to the family. My obligations as a father and husband come first, then my profession. It’s been difficult to carve out time for my passion, writing and professional speaking.”
Writing has always been a passion for Sidney, and he sees so much potential in the youth. He feels it is his job to inspire them to overcome their challenges. “I take a lot of pride in being African American. I feel like I stand on the shoulders of giants like Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Marcus Garvey and more. I use my books as a platform to promote social justice.”
There are many wonderful things happening ahead and Sidney is thrilled to share them all and embark on this new journey! “I’ll be starting a new job next week that I’m excited about. I also plan to publish GG’s Baby by the end of 2020. It’s a book about the extraordinary bond my daughter shared with my mother.”
Ronnie Sidney, II, LCSW can be found on Instagram and Twitter @ronniesidneyii and Facebook Ronnie Sidney, II, LCSW. His website is http://www.creative-medicine.com/