To donate to Kickstarter Campaign R.I.P. RaShawn click here.
The nation’s latest victims of police-involved shootings were 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 32-year-old Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Castile, a beloved public school employee, was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop on Wednesday, July 7, 2016. Sterling, a father of five, was tackled to the ground before being shot and killed by officers a day earlier. Both incidents were captured on cell phone cameras and uploaded on social media.
Author-therapist Ronnie Sidney, II, MSW recalls feeling numb after watching the two videos. “I feel so numb thinking about the pain and anguish their families are experiencing right now,” says Sidney, “The pain pushes me to keep publishing children’s books that raise awareness about social justice issues.”
Sidney is the author Tameka’s New Dress and Amazon best-seller Nelson Beats Odds. The transcript for his upcoming book, R.I.P. RaShawn, has been sitting on his laptop since January. R.I.P. RaShawn is tragic story about the extra-judicial killing of a Black teenager. Sidney believes the book is more relevant now than ever.
“The international response to the recent rash of police officer-involved shootings on social media has been overwhelming. People are standing in solidarity all over the country in protest to the extrajudicial killings of Black men in America,” says Sidney.
Celebrities Chris Brown, Beyonce and Jessie Williams publicly responded to the tragic deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling . President Obama said the fatal police shootings were “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”
Sidney is well aware of the racial disparities that exist in the criminal justice system. In 2013, Sidney presented “Liberty and Justice for All? Examining the Untold Trayvon Martin Stories” at Virginia Commonwealth University. The presentation examined nearly a dozen African-American and Hispanic teenagers who died at the hands of vigilantes or police officers. Sidney wasn’t inspired to write R.I.P. RaShawn until the aftermath of Tamir Rice’s death. “I love children, to see one gunned down like that by police officers made me sick to my stomach. I wrote a story that illustrated the emotional pain families experience when their children are killed ” says Sidney.
R.I.P. RaShawn takes place in a fictional city called Bland- the city is named after the late Sandra Bland. A group of local boys who call themselves “Trill Squad” pick a fight with the book’s main character Jeremy. Jeremy is outnumbered and loses the fight. While Jeremy’s mother Mary is grocery shopping, Jeremy steals an airsoft gun. Jeremy carelessly shows off the weapon to Nelson and a shopkeeper calls the police. Meanwhile, Jeremy’s brother is sent to the park to pick up Jeremy and Nelson. RaShawn notices Jeremy has a toy gun and takes it from him. Two police officers pull up aggressively on the curb and things go from bad to worst…
Sidney works as an Outpatient Therapist and his book series includes characters diagnosed with mental health disorders and learning disabilities. R.I.P. RaShawn will explore PTSD, anger and grief because they are common reactions to traumatic experiences.
“R.I.P. RaShawn will give young people a platform to discuss officer-involved shootings. Our young people are being traumatized daily by videos of men and women being shot by police officers, it’s essential that we help them process those experiences,” explains Sidney.
A Kickstarter campaign was recently launched by Sidney to finance R.I.P. RaShawn. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website that helps individuals fund creative projects. Sidney’s project goal for R.I.P. RaShawn is only $3,500 and the money will be used to cover illustrations, publishing and promotional costs. In exchange for pledging to the project, backers can gain access to rewards ranging from an autographed paperback copy of R.I.P. RaShawn to an appearance by the author at your community organization, school or corporate event.
Quotes from young African American and Hispanic teens will be littered throughout R.I.P. RaShawn. One of those quotes will be from a 14-year-old high school student from Portsmouth, VA named Lawrence. Below is an excerpt from an essay Lawrence wrote after reading the book’s transcript:
It’s a cold world. Where is the love and peace? It seems like life is on repeat. Dude had a toy gun and they still shot him. It seems like what Dr. King fought for doesn’t even matter, they still want to see our blood splattered. It seems like if we talk, we get a bullet. It makes me think about what to do in life. Do I need to carry a gun?
About: Ronnie Sidney, II, MSW is an author (Nelson Beats The Odds,Tameka’s New Dress), publisher, therapist, app developer (Nelson Beats The Odds Comic Creator), philanthropist and literary activist. Ronnie partnered with his illustrators Imagine That! Design to publish Nelson Beats the Odds and Tameka’s New Dress. For inquiries email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.creative-medicine.com.