Destinii Williams is a classic Baltimore woman. A proud Baltimore City College graduate, she is birthed of her experiences at two powerful HBCUs— Bowie State and Coppin State Universities— where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in early childhood and elementary education.
Like many young people in a city like Baltimore where drugs, crime and poverty are pervasive in Black communities— block-to-block— Destinii and her siblings were raised by her Grandmother in Park Heights. “My Grandmother had my two older brothers who would run the streets; myself, my younger brother and two sisters to look after. In total there were seven of us and she still managed to have me in dance classes, sports and beauty pageants,” Williams said.
Luckily, her matriarch wasn’t alone in raising them. There were folks in the neighborhood who helped greatly, like her Godmother who lived across the street from them on Rosalind Avenue, according to Williams. Williams says her inspiration to write initially came from an opportunity she had to play the role of Harriet Tubman in a school play in the second grade.
“Something about Harriet Tubman’s legacy just really inspired me to really take ownership over who I wanted to be when I grew up, even at an age where there was no way that I could control it,” Williams said. Girded with the advice to journal through everything by one her cousins, Williams persevered; and over twenty years later has written out much of what she experienced then and now in her debut book, Birthing A New.
“Even with everything in my environment, I’d affirm to myself that I was going to be something great,” she said.
A fierce young Black woman, Williams is also an author, editor, full-figured model, social media personality, administrative professional for a prestigious organization, and now the mother of two after a pregnancy during the pandemic. Much of her work broadly displays the true meaning of creating the life you may want to live as a multi-hyphenated and very busy woman in this modern world.
In “Birthing A New,” Williams explores the life she has created for herself in Baltimore alongside her partner Rickie, daughter Kayli, stepson Aiden, and their newly born son Asé. Illustrations by Maryland Institutute College of Art Alum and Faculty Mikea Hugley are laced throughout the book and are all in the theme of transformation.
“Like a butterfly in its chrysalis,” Williams said.
To churn out the book mid-pandemic, Williams partnered with Silent Books Publishing a new Black Women Led publishing house in Baltimore founded by writer and adjunct professor at Baltimore City Community College, Angel Wilson, author of Am I Doing This Right. Within the pages of Birthing A New, this breakout author expresses some very relatable narratives of women’s experiences.
“I wanted to have a tangible example of my story and I hoped for it to be an example of what us women go through collectively when it comes to all of the many things we experience in this life with regard to love, child-rearing, and being in the work world,” said Williams. Williams says that she is inspired by the collective work of Toni Morrison— especially her book “Home.”
“Reading Home was an assignment in an African American literature class that I was taking years ago. It inspired me to take myself seriously as a writer and as an author. Toni’s work touched on the idea of home as a concept being something you can carry with you and not something that is always tangible,” Williams said.
Like many of us over the last year, Williams found time during what she says was a stillness, caused by the pandemic that sometimes felt lonely because she didn’t have her girls, her friends, her godmother and her grandmother like she did on Rosalind Avenue in Park Heights.
“I have a very loving partner, Rickie who while our relationship has been fulfilling and truly a dream come true but he’s just not a girl or a woman,” she chuckled.
Sometimes as women, we need sisterhood and camaraderie and that’s what Williams hopes she delivers in her book, Birthing A New. “Birthing A New” is available from Charm City Books, Greedy Reads, Normals Bookshop and Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse. It’s also availableonline at: destiniiwilliams.com