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This past Sunday, I released my first ever episode of The Kiki Podcast Series on black excellence and self-love.

For those of you who do not know, The Kiki is a forum that I created sponsored by the Kelly Writers House Wexler Studio in which black Penn students and students from other neighboring colleges and universities talk about issues that really matter to them and to the black community through a safe, raw and intellectual space. And after weeks of planning and pre-recording, I was finally able to see the product of my work.

It was definitely not easy creating this project. I originally started thinking about this during winter break in my room back home in New York. At first, it was a passing thought, but then I started to really get passionate about it.

Then the time came, and I did not know where to begin. That’s when I understood the difference between having a set of ideas, and actually knowing how to execute them. But trust me when I say that did not stop me.

I immediately researched different types of podcasts and what made them successful from both a marketing and viewer perspective. Things like a great presence on social media stood out to me the most. So, I decided to create both an Instagram and a Facebook page for the Kiki.

After that, I needed to get people interested in wanting to be guests on The Kiki — that, I would say, was the hardest part. Not because I thought people would not be interested in doing a podcast, but because I needed to make sure that the topics I chose for the podcast would be both interesting, and a reflection of what black Penn students want to talk about.

Most of all, this process allowed me to understand more about my community, and the differences in opinions, values and identities within it. Previously I assumed that my experiences were a reflection of the black community as a whole. But through this journey of creating the podcast and expanding my perceptions of the black experience, I was able to see that black people come from many different backgrounds, and that the black experience — as I mention in my podcast as part of my list of “non-negotiables” — is not a monolith and can encompass different kinds of worldviews.

But in addition to the finished product, I have gained valuable insights from working with some of the guests on the podcast. Originally, I thought that the podcast would just be a discussion where we would talk for a little bit, laugh and then go home. But what I found was something much more meaningful.

I really got to be myself with all my quirks, humor and rawness. I also got to hear different stories of other peoples’ experiences, and how they persevered through some pretty tough obstacles. You would not believe the amount of times that I almost cried hearing other peoples’ childhood experiences. It made me realize that everyone has their own obstacles that they face over the course of their life, and that sometimes we as people should recognize the humanity in others.

I also feel like this podcast series will manifest into something that could really be beneficial to the black community at Penn and beyond. In one of my episodes on bi-racial mixed perspectives, I had a special guest who is a graduate of Drexel University. In the podcast, he talked about his experiences being both Indian and black. After the podcast, I was so moved by his story that I wanted to continue talking to him afterwards.

And that’s my original goal of the podcast. Yes, I do set a priority for black Penn students, but I want the complex issues that we talk about in an hour-long podcast to extend to small discussions in cultural centers, at homes and in community meetings. I want us to continue to talk about these difficult issues because the only way we will start to understand each other is through this raw, formative and intellectual discussion.

Overall, this podcast taught me a lot. It helped me gain more salient relationships with students in the black community at Penn. It also allowed me to express myself while still understanding the different perspectives of black folks. I really appreciate the valuable experiences I gained throughout this whole podcast, and I honestly love it in all its rawness, tension and love.

I love all my black folks and despite the fights and obstacles we go through, just know that we are in this together and I hope that you will Kiki with me, whether it be inside the studio or outside on the street.

JAMES FISHER is a College sophomore from the Bronx, N.Y., studying communication. “Spilling the Real Tea” usually appears every other Thursday.