Giving a Voice to the Voiceless: How Brianca Hadnot Plans to Use Social Justice and Writing to Expose the Stories of Black Women
By Chelsea W
Brianca has, for as long as she could remember, used writing as an escape. Coming from a matriarchal upbringing, it didn’t take long for her to understand her value as a woman and notice the injustices towards women around her. In her upcoming book, she plans to bring the woes of the black woman’s reality to life and tell their stories.
As a Masters student at Texas Southern University, a writer for her website, lifeofbriancajay.com, and a radio host for Hello Sistah, Brianca has frequently used her platforms for social justice advocacy, women empowerment and more.
She took some time to chat with us about how she became the woman she is now, her take on society, and how she plans to give women a voice.
How was your childhood growing up? Who has molded you into the woman you are today?
My childhood was one that people in today’s society might deem untraditional; my father was incarcerated and my mother relied on the village ideology when it came to raising me and my sisters, so I have been influenced by some very strong matriarchs throughout my life.
Because of this, I think I have strong opinions and I hold my relationships with my family and friends really dear to my heart. They are the people who help me during the tough times, so that is where I show my loyalty. Don't mess with them, I just can’t handle that – I’ll go bananas!
When did you realize you had a passion for writing and what did you mostly write about?
I’ve had a passion for writing from the day I learned how to write. I always had a lot to say, but not so many people who wanted to listen. That’s what inspired me to write, to be honest. It was just an opportunity to get all my ideas out. Even these days, I write it all out and then read it and I am like, “Wow, is that how I feel?” It’s a very out-of-body experience.
When I write, I tend to write about women. It is what inspires me because we are so complex; our ability to be strong and resilient while being gentle and nurturing has a certain type of magic to it. I also enjoy correcting a lot of the flawed ideologies people associate with women, especially women of color. I like to be the person to stand up and say, “No, that’s not who I am.
The media, reality TV, the music videos— that’s not who I am.” I define myself for myself, and in doing so I hope that I change the narrative. It’s time that we tell our stories, and validate the lives and experiences of people who have been misrepresented for way too long.
Besides writing what do you do in your past time?
I live so I can have more to write about! But I also host a radio show, Hello Sistah on TheCore94. We talk about controversial topics and events every Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. It’s a passion project I host with my sisters, hence the name.
I also tutor at Texas Southern University and volunteer with Writers in the Schools, helping young writers develop their voices.
You're a social justice advocate, what’s your take on today society in general?
Thank you, there’s a nice sound to that Social Justice Advocate, it makes me sound important! I’m just standing up for what’s right and what I believe in. As far as today’s society, sometimes it’s amazing, but sometimes it’s really difficult, like trying to navigate through a land mine. That may be why I spend so much time advocating for change. While everything and everyone is trying to capture my attention, it is for all the wrong reasons. There’s so much happening -- police brutality, the water poisoning of the people of Flint, Michigan, the economic disparities amongst women and people of color, the hunting and killing of African-American youths…we have to pay attention and make good decisions.
You're also a student at TSU, what is your major, why did you decide TSU, and why was it important for you to attend college?
I love TSU, I’m studying for my masters in English literature. When I decided to go there I was 18, so I chose it for no reason other than that my friends went there, but I am glad I did. It’s opened a lot of doors for me, and the staff, students, and professors are like an extended family to me now.
What are your goals for the future? What should we expect from you?
In the future, I would say to look for a book! I never gave up my childhood dream to be a novelist, and outside of running lifeofbriancajay.com, I working closely with the literary community to become a better writer. With the knowledge I have gained, I hope to parlay that to changing the narrative regarding black women by exposing our stories, in our voice. In doing this, I think we as black women can find strength, guidance and healing.
What motivates you to keep going and what advice would you give to others to encourage them?
My family and friend’s support really helps me more than anything. It’s not easy and the status and recognition doesn't last as long as many may think. I hope people know that no matter how well you’re doing, you will always want more. It’s a journey.
Also, remain grateful to those who support you on your journey. Their love and faith in you will carry you through the hard times more than you know. Most of all, be nice. It’s the generosity of other people who have helped me more than anything I could do on my own.