Photos: Courtesy of Highly Melanated; Pictured (clockwise l to r): Highly Melanated podcast hosts Chris, Blair, Ushi, and PJ Ryan.

On this last day in the month of Black History, we're featuring Highly Melanated, one of our favorite podcasts which happens to air on one of our favorite podcast networks, Brooklyn Free Speech Radio (*wink wink*).

Highly Melanated is hosted by four creative souls (PJ Ryan, Ushi, Blair Tate, and Chris Red) who have funny and dynamic conversations centered around what people of color face every day. We sat down with this very funny and talented quad for a Q & A and here's what they had to say, in their own words.

"When it comes to being “Highly Melanated,” celebrating Black History Month is something that is near and dear to us individually, and collectively. Thanks to the great community at BRIC's Brooklyn Free Speech TV & Podcast Network, we have the opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas with the world— live and direct from BRIC House.

Allow us to formally introduce ourselves— we are Highly Melanated, a podcast hosted by PJ Ryan, Ushi, Red, and Blair that airs on Brooklyn Free Speech Radio. We come forth bringing all the elements (Air, Earth, Fire, and Water) to bring a balance of positive energy that is unlike anything you have ever heard before."

Pictured: PJ Ryan

"PJ here, the producer and creator of Highly Melanated. When I had the idea of creating this space, it was extremely important to me that we discussed issues that affect us as Black people— regardless of shade, background, or experience. There is something to be said about how the universe has a way of making everything work in your favor, if you are moving with purpose.

We had many different names to start out with but nothing stuck out to me more than that lyric in Janelle Monae’s, Django Jane song, “Yea we Highly Melanated!” I screamed out loud, THAT’S IT!! I had to sit and think, what does it mean to be highly melanated? The only thing I could think of was the amount of strength I receive on a daily basis from my elders and my ancestors. We are powerful beyond measure and I want everyone to know that no matter the amount of melanin they were blessed with, we are all Highly Melanated!

So this Black History Month, and all that follow I encourage everyone to take a moment and just give thanks to those who blazed the trail and opened a path that allows us all to flourish and grow, in love. We are more powerful when we stick together versus when we compete against each other! That’s why I have dedicated my journey at Brooklyn Free Speech to being of service to the larger producing community. Whether it’s volunteering for shoots in the podcast studio, volunteering for shoots in the TV studio, helping a fellow producer with an event, or just making someone smile, I know that if you lead with love, it will all go right!" ~ PJ Ryan

Pictured: Ushi

“Personally, Black History Month is a reaffirmation of my culture, history, and those things that I love about being Afro-American. These 28 days for me are a strong reflection of who we are and where we come from— to keep moving forward into the future of change and togetherness.

When I am reminded of the ancestors who came before me—whose shoulders I stand on—it encourages me to be better, and do better. The opportunities afforded to us today weren’t available 30, 40, or 50 years ago. With the Highly Melanated podcast and the platform BRIC's Brooklyn Free Speech TV & Podcast Network offers, we can break glass ceilings with our voices. As an Afro-American alive in 2019, I wholeheartedly accept the torch from my ancestors to keep its fire blazing and continue to break barriers.” ~ Ushi

Pictured: Blair Tate

"Black History is a legacy that should be celebrated and remembered each and every day. February is Black History Month, which means this is the time that the nation at large takes an integral look at the contributions that African-Americans have made to this country. It is especially important to me because I believe that in order for you to know where you are going, you have to know where you have been.

The education of the history of our people teaches us who we are and what we are capable of. I especially love that this month of celebration occurs early in the year. The energy and vigor that I get from hearing about the perseverance of our people, propels me forward and lays the groundwork for nothing but accomplishments for the rest of the year. Happy Black History Month everyone! Take this opportunity to learn, grow, and create some Black History of your own." ~ Blair Tate

Pictured: Chris Red

"Highly Melanated is an experience! When we first started the podcast I would ask myself often, "What Highly Melanated would mean to me?" Being Highly Melanated meant I wanted to be Highly Connected. I would even get skeptics that asked about that name based on how much melanin myself or others had. Are we truly Highly Melanated? But do we simply boil it down to skin tone, the same thing for which we don't want to be judged?

Highly Melanated is about culture and art. It's about breaking down barriers to better understand our communities and sparking conversations to educate our brothers and sisters. I’m not just one of the “50 shades,” I am a Human with feelings, culture, intellect, and aspirations... I am, your local ‘baby shark’ and mac & cheese enthusiast! I’m that friend that will embarrass you by forcing you to dance with me publicly and somehow turn it into a music video. I am fun. I am…" ~ Red a.k.a Red Geeves a.k.a. Rose Gold a.k.a. STEPMASTER a.k.a. Chris

OUR MISSION at Highly Melanated is to “melanate your palate & feed your soul  Num num num...”

Every episode is an experience where we provide food for thought to give you a hearty meal with enough leftovers for your friends and family. On our weekly menu, we have had a buffet of choices to pick from like "Therapy Heals Wounds" (episode 22), "Celebrating Our Scars" (episode 11), and "What That Culture Do" (episode 15).

New episodes are released every Thursday on Brooklyn Free Speech Radio's SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, and Spotify.