For Solange Hacksaw (COM ‘21), the beginning of summer 2020 could not come fast enough. It was going to be the first time since starting college at BU that she had nowhere to be — no classes, no assignments and no plans. Quarantine promised her a break from the burnout from her first semester as a Mass COM and political science student during a global pandemic. It gave her time to breathe and start the blog she had been dreaming about since watching Sex in the City’s Carrie Bradshaw get her start in the Carrie Diaries as a teenager. Nearly a year later and Hacksaw’s blog, Tips from your Good Sis, and its accompanying podcast, Beauty, Brains and Baggage, address any topic relevant to today’s 20-year-old, regardless of how taboo.
Jazzy Gray: Why don’t we start by just having you tell me a little bit about Tips from your Good Sis and its counterpart, the Beauty Brains and Baggage podcast. How did you decide what to write about?
Solange Hacksaw: I feel like quarantine gave a lot of people time to think. And, at least for me, I was actually really excited to do nothing because it was the first summer in years where I just had nothing to do. And honestly, it was so nice to take a breath and not have to worry about classes and assignments. But sometime around June, my friend texted me and asked, “Do you want to start a blog?” And then I was sitting on it. I never wanted to start a blog without having a name or a clear vision for it. At first, I felt like I didn’t have something to say at the time.
Then it was summer 2020 and everything was hitting the fan; it was peak anxiety for Black women. I just remember there were a few interactions with people making me out to be the angry Black girl. I think that’s something that’s happened a lot in my life because I have an opinion. It made me sit down and realize that people do not think about the humanity of Black people, especially Black women. People just do not think about how the stereotypes and trauma that we have to face affects us.
So, my first episode for Beauty, Brains and Baggage was unpacking the angry Black woman stereotype. And I did it with my friends, but I also incorporated a psychologist’s opinion because I wanted to know what sort of mental toll it takes to just constantly have to shift and change yourself according to the space you’re in. I finally felt prepared to start the two projects because I found stuff that I wanted to dig into and explore. I think quarantine gave me space to actually do that.
Do you have a favorite COM class or professor that you feel prepared you to branch out on your own?
One of my favorite professors has to be Dr. Hong. When I was in COM101, she was the PR person teaching it. Then, I took persuasion theory with her, which I really enjoyed. Her class taught me a lot about life. For example, I feel like we can get used to arguing with people, but you’re never really going to change someone’s mind unless they want their mind to be changed.
Another thing I generally really like about COM is it gives me experience in the things I’m doing. So, for example, when I first started my website, a big thing was getting on Google. Just because you have a domain doesn’t mean it’s going to pop up on the first page of Google search. I had to write for SEO. I literally forgot how to do that, so I had to go back to my CO331 project notes and look through them. In COM, I appreciate that the things you’re learning in class actually translate to what you’re doing.
What other extracurricular activities have you been involved in?
While in COM, I’ve been able to do a bunch of different things with media — in the classroom and outside the classroom. When I came into school, all I knew is that I liked writing. I didn’t know how to do Adobe programs, and I didn’t have access to programs. I didn’t know how to write for SEO or even think about that. So my experiences have been very, very helpful. My radio show Jalapeno Peppers is still going strong. I already mentioned that Dr. Hong is a fan fave [so] I do research with her currently as well.
Do you have any advice for incoming Mass Com, PR, Ad students?
To incoming students, I would say that it’s okay to not know things. I think it can be intimidating if you’re coming into a space where you don’t know anything. It can be very daunting, and you can feel left out if you don’t know what other people are talking about. You just have to have a desire to grow and to learn, and to put yourself out there. And honestly, as a student, one thing I have always done is, if I don’t know something in class, I would very much be the student to raise my hand. Don’t be afraid to do that and ask questions.
I will say that oftentimes in certain media careers, you can be encouraged to just only focus on your career at the expense of everything else. Please don’t do that. Do not sacrifice your health and wellness — your social life and your stability — for a job. To me, at least, that is not worth it.
Find something you’re passionate about. Demand respect from people. And don’t be afraid to take up space. And this is especially important if you are a student from a marginalized background. It can feel weird being in a college space, but just know that your lived experience, combined with your intellect and your passion for your field, is very valuable and very important.
Jazzy Gray, Staff Writer
Jazzy Gray is a human storyteller, writer and communication student studying PR and Journalism at Boston University. The Minnesota native loves all kinds of fun things like coffee drinks, Beyoncé songs, and fictional books with strong female protagonists. In addition to her role with The COMmunicator, Gray also acts as co-Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at Boston University. Gray is continually amazed by the courageousness a single story can require, and she is honored that so many continue to share their stories with her.