By Laura Onyeneho
Destiny Polk, founder of Radical Black Girl, is driven by a deep concern for speaking the truth in a country that has a history of rewriting its own narrative and suppressing African and Native American history and culture.
Her passion lies in advocating for marginalized communities, with a particular focus on low-income communities of color, women of color, and young self-identifying Black girls.
Originally established in her hometown of Boston, Radical Black Girl is an art-activist platform that prioritizes the needs of the community. It tackles three key issues: the lack of creative spaces for people of color to gather, limited opportunities and access for artists of color, and a general absence of true community connection.
While performance and art creation are central to Radical Black Girl’s mission, the heart of the organization lies in community building and collective healing. Polk continues to utilize her platform to uplift local artists, disseminate information about important community matters, and foster spaces for people to come together and enact positive change.
Having expanded her endeavors to Houston, Polk has become a prominent co-organizer of community events that uplift and empower Black Houstonians.
Through her efforts, she strives to create a transformative impact, amplifying voices that have long been marginalized and fostering a sense of unity and empowerment within the community.
The Defender spoke with Polk to learn more about her transition into Houston and what we can expect from her this year.
Defender: You’ve been in Houston for three years and have had major growth. How were you navigating and building connections over time as a community advocate and creative?
Polk: My approach has been to put myself first and then Radical Black Girl. We grow and change and I’m a different Destiny than I was three years ago. I was really intentional about building trust with people. In some conversations I lead in “Hello, I’m Destiny, the founder of Radical Black Girl” and that is usually in the educational space because Radical Black Girl has done a lot of collaborations with educational institutions… community organizing and storytelling, that’s the plug. I help produce events. How can we partner? How can we co-partner? How can I use my online platform and reach to bring more people to know about what you’re doing? Being in the community economic development space has opened so many doors for me. I stepped to that space as Destiny. Houston is a divine scavenger hunt. God is sending me on a scavenger hunt where I may not know exactly who I’m going to meet when I show up, but somebody is going to be the next blessing or vice versa.
Defender: As you expanded Radical Black Girl to Houston, what were some of the unique challenges and opportunities you encountered in advocating for marginalized communities in a new city?
Polk: Honestly, most of it has been internal. I don’t feel like I received a lot of push back externally. I think moving to a new city…with a new political atmosphere, as well as coming out of a pandemic, a lot of things are changing at the same time. I think the only kind of struggle that I had with Radical Black Girl is asking myself “who are you?” and “How do you want people to know you now?” How do I make sense of how to reintroduce myself and my platform to a new community? I’m in a position to grow now that I’ve laid that foundation. I have the right contacts; I have proof of concept in a new city. I do this.
Defender: What are some of your proudest achievements in Houston so far?
Polk: I became a Black angel and danced for Toby Nwigwe. I was in eight music videos in his most recent The MonuMintal project. That was a huge moment. I’ve designed for a few fashion shows. My designs were highlighted on Great Day Houston during Black History Month. I didn’t think that I would start teaching myself how to sew on a machine and two years later I’d be walking the designs on a runway. I published a book called The Radical Black Girls Guided Journal for Wellbeing and Beyond. I self-published it and I got it printed in a Black-owned house in Houston. I’ve sold over 200 copies. I got nominated for an entrepreneurship award and will be receiving that in August. I’ve had great partnerships with Prairie View’s Cooperative Extension Program. I’ve been presenting some fashion designs as part of the No Sister Left Behind program.
Defender: Looking forward, what are your future goals and aspirations for Radical Black Girl?
Polk: I want to expand Radical Black Girl into schools across Houston. Creating artistic curriculum for afterschool programs, getting my journals in the hands of the youth. Getting into the development space. I won a pitch competition a few months ago on a concept about creating an arts and media educational house. That’s been my heart and vision that’s been with me. Houston is a perfect place for something like that to exist where I can be a huge part of the process of creating artist living spaces, classrooms for the community to come in and learn skills to be creative individuals. Then I want to blow up my fashion line with revolutionary sustainable fashion. I want to channel my public persona through television, radio, and podcasting. I want to put myself out there in that way.