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Meet Destiny Polk of Radical Black Girl in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Destiny Polk.

Destiny, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Truly, this journey to Radical Black Girl started back when I was four years old– my first time on a stage. I had always been this bold, unapologetic character who stood out from the rest and I didn’t feel bad about it, it was my superpower. I have lived most of my life on a stage. My passion for art has taken me to places I never knew I would go and each time I would look around and notice that I was one of few, if not the only black girl on stage. I had grown pretty well respected for my art over the years, being a part of projects, productions and taking any opportunity to share my work — my passion was turning into my career!

Fast forward to 2016 when Radical Black Girl the entity was truly formed. I had just suffered the worst depressive spell of my twenty years of life, which caused me to go completely inward. I was determined to get my back to my true essence and make the most out of the life I was given. I happened to be born into a life surrounded by creative, intelligent, passionate artists: those ahead of me paved the way, while those beside me and behind me did not always have the tools or the platform to show what they were really about.

Radical Black Girl started as intimate interviews with young, local artists. I’d ask those questions about self-knowledge, self-love and self-expression all relating back to their art or form of expression, our conversations would get pretty deep and were always relevant.

March 2016 I organized my first art showcase in my home city. Boston at Spontaneous Celebrations and it was a pretty big deal at the time. I organized it while I was still at school in Connecticut. I reached out to many artists who I knew and some who I did not know and created a show called #TheMedicine. This show was created as an ode to hip hop culture, celebrating how black and brown peoples used expression as a form of healing during times of pain and chaos. There were live graffiti artists and free art supplies, performances in open mic style and a couple unpredictable dance cyphers burst through the space. People left feeling heard, accepted and healed, and from there I knew I needed to continue to create spaces like that.

Since then, I have built an online community through RBG, have produced larger performances at venues like OBERON in Cambridge and Black Market Dudley. A very popular production I did in November, 2017 opened the doors to many workshop opportunities at universities like Harvard Law, Brandeis and Tufts, The last community show that I did was called Black Woman is God. It was such a success! Over 20 black women creative came together to put on a deeply moving, intuitively spiritual, and cathartic experience for all ages.

Performance and art making is at the center of what Radical Black Girl does, but the true core is community building and collective healing. I continue to use my platform to uplift local artists, to spread information about important things within the community, and create spaces for people to come together to make change.

Has it been a smooth road?
I feel very fortunate that I have not been faced with many challenges. There is a long legacy of artists and activists of color in Boston that many people do not talk about but I am just following a path that has in some ways been prepared for me. The city of Boston is craving for more spaces to be creative, to experience true connection and to feel like we’re making a difference. Radical Black Girl intentionally crafts experiences for people to receive all of what they express is lacking in the city and so it is received with love and enthusiasm.

I would say a personal struggle is finding a team. I have had beautiful collaborations throughout the past couple of years but Radical Black Girl is a one woman show. Despite how cool it is sometimes to walk into a space and be recognized as the face of Radical Black Girl, I wish that was not the case. My goal is for other people to feel like they can see themselves in RBG that this movement of liberation through art is for everyone. Honestly, one of the main things holding me back from building a team is fear… that other people might not believe in my vision as much as I do or would not want to help to build this vision without being paid initially. I should push past my fear though and reach out for help, I may be surprised with the responses I receive.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Radical Black Girl – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Radical Black Girl is an art-activist platform built with the needs of community in mind. RBG addresses the three main issues of: few creative spaces for people of color to convene, limited opportunity and accessibility for artists of color, and the general lack of true community.

RBG provides high quality, socially aware performance that provides a platform for young artists and creates paid opportunities. RBG develops creative and professional development workshops ranging from (but not limited to) creative writing, and dance, to brand and website building, giving community members the tools to turn their expression into their own platform.

I am currently going through a website change, but my vision for the completed website is to be a hub for all things art-activism. The new will be a place for information and inspiration from local creative making a difference through their art.

My performances and my workshops are equally as successful, though my performances are the most widely impactful.

I am most proud of my last two performances: RESIST (D) ANCE and Black Woman is God. The amount of community support I received still blows my mind to this day. Hundreds of people came out to support and most importantly they had an amazing time. I am most proud of the way I am able to make people feel. I am proud of the tangible change I can see transpiring in the lives of those who come to Radical Black Girl events. I am proud of the new friendships and relationships that form because of my events and continue to flourish.

What sets me apart is how much I think about the people who are going to be in the room before I create anything.

Over the course of 2 years, I have been able to touch over 800 people through live performance and workshops. I plan to build Radial Black Girl into a national platform so that I may continue to touch communities and build connections across states.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love all of the Caribbean restaurants around where I live. I love all of the different cultures, foods and smells that I experience when walking around my neighborhood in Dorchester. I love the arts scene in Boston, young, queer people of color are beginning to take up more space and it makes me so happy.

What I dislike very much about the city is the gentrification of neighborhoods that have so much history and culture. I also do not like that it seems like Boston has given up on its youth, de-funding arts programming and not creating much opportunity for development and recreation.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Khabeer Stultan @ksultanphoto, Tyahra Angus @afrocentermedia

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