On this throwback Thursday, we are highlighting a previous episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast that featured Jhon Carlos Barrera. In this episode, we explore his career journey as well as the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.
Jhon Carlos Barrera is a proud Queer Caribeño-Latino (Dominican & Colombian) and a first-generation college graduate who is committed to developing the next generation of Latino leaders.
In this conversation, Jhon shares some of the obstacles he has faced in the workplace and with his community. And he tells us how he has navigated through those experiences by finding the strength and confidence within himself to break down those barriers.
These are some of the episode highlights:
"In my own community, I even have to be fearful." -Jhon Carlos Barrera
We can feel afraid of how other people that do not look like us may react when we express our authentic selves, especially in the workplace. Yet, many times the judgment and discouragement come from our community. And this is true for the Latino culture, where the male expectations are perpetuated.
For Jhon, the simple act of going to the barbershop with his boyfriend many times during a year meant feeling afraid of not being well-received or treated because these places are highly masculine, and, as such, homophobia tends to be present. But for Jhon, such experiences show him how necessary it is to dismantle skewed historical and cultural views and encourage unity, especially within the community.
"If I could educate folks on my experiences and where I come from, then maybe they could start having a different outlook." -Jhon Carlos Barrera
We are not born being inherently hateful toward other people that sound and look different than us. That is something that we learn as we grow up. We first learn it from our family, then we learn it from society. We learn what is “acceptable” and what is not.
Jhon believes it is important to share who we are and where we come from to start a conversation that can help people become more open and accepting. Because if they don't know who we are and where we come from, people will only have an idea of us and what that means to them.
"Who else can tell your story, other than you?" -Jhon Carlos Barrera
Jhon tells us how he has come to understand the importance of knowing our stories and owning them. Many of us walk in this life without having a true connection and understanding of who we are and where we come from, so how can we share and defend who we are if we don’t know ourselves?
Not knowing our stories enables other people to influence who we are, and it gives them permission to define us. When we know who we are, we can stand up for ourselves with confidence. So instead of letting other people write our story, we can take back that narrative and stand proudly as our authentic selves.
Jhon’s words are packed with valuable gems! Listen to this episode for more:
Have a story to share? Let us know here for an opportunity to be featured in the podcast!