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Author Alicia Williams Visits with Maple Street

Alicia Williams Fear can be paralyzing or it can be a creative force, author and teacher Alicia D. Williams told students at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts during a virtual visit in October. 

Williams, the author of the young adult novel “Genesis Begins Again,” told students that she experienced many challenges throughout her life, including feeling like her family was not supportive of her choices. 

But, “if I can find my way out of so much doubt, so much fear, I’m sure you can too,” Williams said. 

Williams’ visit was organized through a partnership with Kalamazoo Public Library, which provided copies of “Genesis Begins Again'' for students to read with teachers Sara Babcock and Stephanie Hampton. Maple Street librarian Laura WarrenGross helped coordinate the visit. 

“Genesis Begins Again” examines the story of 13-year-old Genesis, an African American girl who dreams of having straight hair and light skin and keeps a list of things she hates about herself. 

The book looks at themes of prejudice and colorism, which Williams said she drew from her own life experiences in an interview on NPR. 

“I’ve seen it growing up, not just within my own family, I’ve seen it within our community, “ Williams told NPR. “We still talk about light skin vs. dark skin. This whole thing starts all over again in each generation.” 

During her visit with Maple Street students, Williams, who is originally from Detroit, also talked about her writing process, how to handle middle-school friendships, dealing with tough times, and having difficult conversations. 

Williams also encouraged students to develop critical thinking skills and to question the things that they see and hear online. She connected with the students by sharing her love of dance and how she reads in order to escape and deal with her stress.