“I’m always going to be a failure to somebody, a starlet to somebody, overrated to somebody. I don’t care about any of that, I just want to tell the truth and do it in style.”

At age 18, Bianca Vivion Brooks became the youngest contracted opinion writer for The New York Times. Three years later she became the youngest New York Times writer ever to be published in print. Growing up between Atlanta and Oakland, and living in Harlem throughout college and early adulthood, Brooks has lived within some of America’s most cherished, yet forgotten, communities. And through this lived magnifying lens, Brooks has been able to produce some of the most compelling and profound commentary on the 21st century. With nearly a decade of writing experience under her belt, including a degree in human rights and economics from Columbia University, but a lifetime of practicing love and celebrating Blackness, she’s never lost sight of her audience.

“The people I’m beholden to are the people I grew up with. I always say, ‘God and the Ghetto, send me back to both when I’m done with all of this.’ I’m not thinking––when I’m writing––about white liberals in America. I’m writing to the person I needed to hear from when I was 15, 16, 21, 22. That’s who I’m always writing for.”

In a time where the young, Black voice has been silenced, exploited and tokenized by white publications and audiences, Brooks has been intentional about positioning these voices, including her own, and their experiences at the core of her writing. It is this genuine love for her communities—Black folks, young people, artists, the South—that allows her to rise each morning and continue telling the truth.

“Loving others is the only reason for life. Love God and cherish people. That’s the only reason I want to be alive, anything else is just commentary. I’ll do it with a movie, with a book, I don’t care what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis as long as it’s real and fun.”

And when it comes to success, love is still at the root of all of her hard work and the driving force behind her livelihood as a Black woman. Without which Brooks says she would feel incomplete—a lesson that she’s learned from other successful Black women, such as the late Toni Morrison, a major inspiration for the writer.

“If you make love a secondary or tertiary priority, you’re going to feel like a failure…Just really pursue love. I think Black women especially, it’s one of the things that make me emotional, that by the time we reach the pinnacle of success the one thing that we decided we could sacrifice is love.”

In 2020, the self-proclaimed entertainer, artist and lover is set to release “Generational Anxiety,” a talk show, along with a collection of essays entitled “Swimming Backwards: Stories of a girl who read the fine print.”

Brooks currently lives in Harlem, New York and can be reached at bianca@vivionco.com.