Basic Brown Nerds: A Podcast Where Latinx Meets Suburbia

Basic Brown Nerds Podcast
Photo Credit IG @basicbrownnerds

Latino Podcast are growing in numbers. We previously shared 10 Podcast that Celebrate and Explore Latin Culture and continue to find Latinx podcast that are must listens.  Basic Brown Nerds is one of those podcasts you should try to check out. Joy and Grecia are unique in their fresh exchange of ideas and thoughts about anything and everything you can think of as a Latina female. 

The chemistry between them is obvious in their communications during podcasts. The ladies are high-energy, upbeat, unapologetically truthful and blunt about their opinions. Topics described in an uncensored way can help get a better understanding of experiences that may be unfamiliar to you. The end result is hopefully that listeners gain the ability to empathize with others, even if it is in the smallest ways. Joy and Grecia look to empower listeners with real-life information on their terms. The no-nonsense approach does not allow for sugar coating the issues that many of us struggle with in our daily lives. 

Co-Creator and Host of Basic Brown Nerds, Joy Valerie Carrera, also the Founder and Owner of Carrera Digital.io Media Agency, spoke with BELatina about podcasting, growing up ‘basic,’ and how strategic process is one of her favorite things. Raised in the suburbs, this Guatemalan nerd has always been proud of her culture identity but often felt she wasn’t enough or too much all at once. Podcasting has helped her claim and live in all aspects of her identity.

Basic Brown Nerds (BBN) premiered in January of 2018 and really filled a space that was lagging in the podcast landscape, Latino people podcasting. Tell us a bit about how you were feeling launching this podcast.

Grecia (the Co-Creator and former co-host of BBN) and I reconnected after college via Facebook with the push of our amazing Guidance Counselor. We attended the same high and met up for brunch often. During brunch we would discuss identity, the complexities of dealing with the social norms of our Mexican and Guatemalan families and feeling “not Latina enough.” We listened to other podcasts that we loved but didn’t really see anyone that was talking about the Latinx experience outside of urban spaces. Then one day we said, “we should start a podcast!” We started with our computers and just went for it.  It was rough and messy, but we figured if we didn’t start, we were never going to do it. When we launched, we were surprised it resonated. 

Podcast Basic Brown Nerds BELatina
Photo Credit IG @colibritherapy

In the first episode, you and Grecia share that you grew up in a very white suburban area and that you felt like an oxymoron because you were/are three very distinct things that are assumed to be mutually exclusive; basic, brown, and nerd. Has claiming this mix of describers impacted the ways in which you do your work?

Definitely, I felt I could only be these things in different spaces I navigated. Around my white college and suburban friends, I could be my best basic self but couldn’t always relate. Being a Latina and nerd doesn’t fit. Other Latino kids would tell me I was “acting white” because of my interest or how I spoke. Growing up I never understood this because the Latinx kids making fun of me and telling me I was a “white girl” were way more “white-passing” than I was. On top of that, I really stick to science and math – so cultural aspects that are very tied to Latino cultures like astrology, spirituality, and religion I could not relate to.

Being called a white girl, being told I was not Latina enough, and being picked on for being a nerd led me to shy away from being part of the Latinx community growing up. However, I would like to connect more easily with other “nerds” especially if they were other minorities because they got that the “not being enough.” My biggest support, now, as an adult comes from my fellow POC nerds that understand this struggle.

My teachers would try to encourage me as a kid telling me the nerds are the ones that end up doing well in life and to be honest, they were right. I have become way more confident in every area of myself and stopped compartmentalizing so many different parts of my identity — which has cost me some friends who couldn’t accept me for who I am but has allowed me to gain a whole new community. 

You have a very technical background in engineering, strategy, and logistics did this come in handy when it came to starting, editing, and launching a podcast? If so, how?

Definitely! It’s honestly why I’m able to do and build as I do. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology and our education was very multidisciplinary. I started as a Chemical Engineer and my last year switched to International Studies. My actual degree in International Studies with a focus on Latin American Studies and Globalization and minors in Chemical Engineering, Anthropology, and Sociology. After graduation I left to travel; I backpacked solo through 26 countries.

My formal and hands-on education combined with my professional experiences have really led me build the way I do, with a human-centered engineering approach understanding culture and behaviors. Before we started Basic Brown Nerds, I had a travel blog and had grown an audience there. I had already focused on growth hacking our online community so when we launched we had an audience ready to listen. 

This is the approach I bring to all of my creative projects. I am definitely not “creative” in the standard approach at all. Because I have been in the startup sector since graduating college I take a minimal viable product (MVP) approach. Anything I cannot do — I learn just enough of how to do it and then find someone who is an expert to take over. I am all about working smarter, not harder.

A year ago, I founded my own agency CarreraDigital.io. My end goal is to leverage the internet to create more conscious consumption of products and media – so Basic Brown Nerds is a little piece of the big picture and has been a fun journey. 

Basic Brown Nerds covers a range of topics. Mental health, sex, toxic masculinity, and immigration rights and realities to name a few – all of these topics are very much “la ropa sucia no se lava en la calle” why are you choosing to wash this clothes in the street?

I think talking about those taboo things is a way to connect more. When we start talking about the “off-topic” things is when we connect on a deeper more vulnerable level. I am definitely an open book.  Sometimes I do worry that my mom is going to listen or read this one day. They are pastors so most of my family is Evangelical, but at the same time, I have never been the type of person that is comfortable living a double life. I often saw many friends having to live one life at home and then be their true selves outside. I am not about that – I opted to leave the church and get to actually be myself. What makes us us, is not just one thing. Especially when you have to face adversity; it makes up who you are, how you move in the world, and how you are perceived. I’ve been lucky to meet lots of people all over the world and realize regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, gender at the core we have more in common than different.  I promise you women all over the world will gladly talk about the fuckboys in their lives and have heard “y el novio?!” So why not talk about it and stop giving these topics power to control us? It’s about taking back and shaping our own narrative. 

What was the most difficult episode to publish? Why?

I personally don’t hold back too much about myself, I do hold back sharing things about other people in my life. Setting boundaries is everything and I believe it is important to have some boundaries with what you will share with your audience. The hardest episodes are when we talk about mental health. Dealing with depression and anxiety is the last thing most of my friends and family would have assumed until I started getting help in my mid-twenties and became comfortable with it. 

However, when I shared that I started getting help to manage my ADHD that was hard for me to share.  At the time I had not even accepted the diagnosis. I understand biochemistry. I spent time studying it but it’s hard to accept it for yourself on an emotional level. I had struggled most of my life and developed “weird” coping mechanisms to manage my ADHD. The older I got, the harder it was to manage anything outside of education and work – those provided lots of structure and allowed me to build the structure — but my relationships in my personal and romantic life suffered. I had friends in college make comments about being so “ADD” and would abuse Adderall. I have always avoided hard drugs so accepting that it was something I needed felt like weakness.  

I’ve come a long way since then – taking a lot of that guilt off and learning how to manage and use it as my strength. It’s why my brain always thinks in patterns, it’s why I feel the need to create, and I work with my diagnosis to be able to manage relationships with others easier. 

What do you envision for Basic Brown Nerds in the future?

Currently, I have an amazing team (Douglas Quinteros and Daniela Franco) that is supporting the things we want to do. I see this scaling so my focus is on launching our crowdfund soon with some dope swag and events for our supporters. 

We hope to focus on the website a lot more to share  stories via contributors that are joining on and add on video content in the next year. For me, Basic Brown Nerds is a pilot that I can test out my media strategies. Additionally, I see it was a way to build an ecosystem where we can create, be supported for our work, and funded by our own community working exclusively with sustainable brands and partners. To me, money is really what determines what policies move forward and how society is shaped. For my own agency, I aim to incorporate BBN as an MVP to show that we can reach a conscious audience, push conversations, and promote more conscious consumerism. I really look at everything in full circle. Basic Brown Nerds is definitely something that should be on people’s radar. 

You can follow Joy’s process and work on her personal Instagram @JoyValeriee