This year, Taste of Soul (TOS) is shaping up to be a special one as vendors are sharing their stories of what it took to get to this festival. It wasn’t an easy road to begin with for mother and daughter, Desaree and Christina Williams—but faith arrived. Christina recounts the road she and her mother have travailed.
“I wasn’t supposed to be smart,” said Christina. “My mom [Desaree] was mistakenly placed in special needs during her primary and secondary education. [She] wasn’t special needs, but because her mom kept signing her up for the classes misguidedly, my mom faced a tough educational barrier.”
Christina continued, “At the time of my birth, my family was superstitious. They said that everything my mom went through was to prepare her for her own special needs’ child. It was silly, but they believed it.
“They also told my mom to not save up for college for me because it was a ‘generational curse’ for most of the women in my family to get pregnant early and collect welfare checks.”
Sometimes when our family means the best, those intentions can end up producing the worst. Desaree and Christina had their road cut out for them—and like it or not, they had to walk it. They had each other though as rougher times unfortunately laid ahead.
“As I grew up, my Mom and I became homeless,” said Christina. “From eight-years-old, my Mom and I moved from evicted apartments to another, to transitional housings, to shelters, to motels and eventually to a car.”
Christina recounts her and her mother being kicked out of a shelter for frequenting it too much. Their family wouldn’t take them in during this time and they were forced to endure the dredges of living on the streets. Despite all of this, Christina claims her academic growth was unaffected.
“My mom took me to the library a plethora of times,” said Christina. “The summer before high school, I read at least fifteen books a week—a total of 175 books!”
Her reading list included Langston Hughes and Chinua Achebe novels among many others. It was in the darkest of times in her life that Christina found a spark to become an author. She already knew what the focus of her book would be and she set out to do it.
Christina’s book, “Scribble”, is about a teenage Caribbean-American girl, Clarice, who uses her superpowers to defend unseen, overlooked and bullied youth. Clarice travels across Mumbai, India and the Greater Los Angeles area, fighting for good and keeping her identity secret.
“She has the power to create anything, but what her family truly needs,” said Christina. “I wrote this book in a notebook while sleeping outside of the Public Storage on Crenshaw and Coliseum right next to the Sentinel in a car.”
Christina explains about writing her book, “It brought me laughter, joy, and an escape. My goal is bring that to someone else as well. In the middle of my freshmen year of high school, my mom’s tax return bought me a laptop, where I rewrote and revised ‘Scribble’ into what it is today.“
She started her book at the age of 12-years-old and finished “Scribble” during her sophomore year. It would undergo editing three times during her junior year and was published in August. Christina hopes her book will help teens through the pressures of life, mental illness and other difficulties.
“I believe that my writing can be a way of service to another human being and a way to inspire others in my community to develop their innate talents,” said Christina.
Christina and Desaree decided to bring their book to the TOS festival this year. The perfect place to promote self-esteem and perseverance through an empowering book but there was a problem—they couldn’t afford a booth. As mercy would have it, a higher power would step in and take over the situation with a kind gesture from another TOS vendor.
“God blessed us with compensation from Mama Sunshine, the proud and well-known owner of Mama Sunshine’s Treasures on 124 S Market Street in Los Angeles, California,” said Desaree.
Mama Sunshine AKA Joya Settle and her business partner, Jesykka Crain were first time TOS vendors who were planning on bringing their haircare products to the festival. Ultimately, life had other plans for the ladies.
“I’m natural hair and my store is 365—I’m every day, six days a week, what I do,” said Settle. “I noticed my stress level, what I’m able to do as far as juggling everything.”
Settle truly wanted to be a part of TOS but the demands of life were pulling her away. Crain was also busy with her daily routine, so both ladies decided that they weren’t going to participate in TOS this year. Settle said that God put something special on their heart concerning their booth.
“God put something on our heart, I’m telling you, it was real,” said Settle. “God said ‘I want you to give it to someone and make sure you find out who it is and bless them with that’.
“That’s what it was, that was the message and it was real and we [Settle & Crain] sat there, we hugged each other, we cried and we said ‘ok’.
“We’re not going to do [TOS], we’re going to give to somebody else.”
Little did Crain and Settle know that their act of kindness would bless the Williams’ ladies in a special way. Desaree shared how she felt about the turn of events, which truly turned out to be a miracle.
“Together, my daughter and I are in a state of evocative exuberance and God is truly good!” said Desaree.
Make sure on October 21 you stop by their booth and check out the “Scribble” book series. The Williams’ ladies have a story or as many would agree, a testimony, that will no doubt inspire and encourage many at TOS.
“From my experience, I learned that I am not what I have or what people say,” said Christina. “I realized that my situation was a great opportunity to grow and serve—although I wasn’t supposed to be smart, I decided to be.”
“He is the Great I Am, the Holy One, and the Most High God,” said Desaree. “He made a way out of no way.”
“Scribble” book series is available on Amazon.
For more information on Taste of Soul, please visit tasteofsoul.org/