Discussing Anti-Oppression & Anti-Racism with In.Visible Paradigms

photo of founder of In.Visible Paradigms: Brenda Herrera Moreno

Recently, I sat down with Brenda Herrera Moreno, the solopreneur who founded In.Visible Paradigms. Brenda recently relocated to Boston but found the time to sit down with The Juncture Magazine for a screen to screen interview. With the assistance of FreeConferenceCall, a great tool for networking nationally and internationally, we were able to connect and discuss In.Visible Paradigms and the services they provide to the community.

The Juncture Mag: Hello! Thank you for taking the time to speak with The Juncture Mag! How are you today?

            Brenda: “I’m doing really good.”

JM: What do you prefer to be called and what are your preferred pronouns?

            B: “Full name Brenda Herrera Moreno.”

I asked Brenda if her last name is hyphenated for correct transcription, and she explained that it isn’t, and in the country she was born two last names or two first names are more common than a middle name.

            B: “It’s not common to have a middle name. I’m from Mexico originally. The trend of names just meant you had your first name, no middle name. Often people have a first name and an extension of their first name. And you have two last names to refer to the patriarchal and matriarchal names. My dad’s [last] name is first. I thought about getting my name hyphenated in the U.S., but the United States is such a form heavy country. Some people put my first last name as my middle name.”

JM: Is that annoying?

            B: *laughs* “Yeah, it was definitely annoying growing up. People would tease and say [my first last name] is my middle name because ‘it’s literally in the middle.’ Sometimes I get lost in files. I have 3 identities some places. Oh, and my preferred pronouns are she/her.”

JM: Do you identify as LGBT+ or an ally? (No pressure to answer this or any other questions.)

            B: “I identify as queer.”

JM: I’m so intrigued by In.Visible Paradigms, and I think you all are doing big things. Can you tell everyone a little bit about it?

            B: “Sure. Amidst all the conversation and attention that’s happened with the presidency and before—I think white allies and the white community is thinking more about racism and oppression. I decided to create a space for white people/allies to make mistakes and ask questions and in doing so learn more about their role in anti-oppression and anti-racism.”

Brenda expressed being aware of the connotation of providing a safe space for white people who exist as the majority and arguably have more safe spaces than people of color.

            B: “I’m careful about the way I say it. It’s a place where white people are allowed to make mistakes.”

JM: You posted on your Instagram that white people should be an accomplice not an ally. Can you talk a bit more about that?

            B: “There’s this document [Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex] from an Indigenous prospective. To be an accomplice has more of an active role. To understand that there’s action that needs to happen in solidarity with the movement. I think this is a great distinction to make because ally is too commodified, too nice, too slogan-y that it dilutes the intention. I can literally sit here and say I’m an ally but if I’m doing the work, then I’m not attached to the title but the actions and intentions.”

JM: Well said. What are some of the services/programs you offer?

            B: “I mainly focus on small group conversations. And these are 4 sessions that are 2 hours long. We meet once a week at coffee shops that have a strong social justice mission. I also do community presentations and engagement activities. I’ve led workshops for people to reflect more on the conversations of social justice. I’m not limited to small groups. There’s opportunity for this work to show itself in different ways.”

JM: Where do you work?

            B: “The headquarters is in Denver. It’s where everything started. I say we, even though it’s just me, I say we as a collective. We are extending an office here in Boston to do the same work.”

JM: What kinds of topics have you discussed in the past during sessions?

           B: “We’ve covered different topics based on the questions that people have. We’ve talked about: intersectional feminism, tone policing and tone deafness, colorism, fertility, gas lighting and victim blaming, trauma porn, black lives matter, apologies, white supremacy as an ideology and the real violence it constantly perpetuates, LGBTQIA+ identities, and have brought in folks to help move these conversations forward. Because of how interlocking oppression is, when people have a question about White Saviorism, we must trace it to internalized superiority, identify that it comes from white supremacy and address the institutional violence it produces. This way the conversation flows with the frustrations or questions people may have and then we are able to dive deep into one point. I really enjoy this way of facilitating!”

JM: The deconstructing you’re doing is very important. What does diversity and inclusion look like to you? How do you strive toward more inclusion and diversity?

            B: “That’s a big question. I operate more in the realm of anti-oppression. When I think of diversity and inclusion, I think ‘whose voice has been silenced the most?’ It sparks more questions. How do I strive for it? How can we have anti-oppression at all levels? The way I strive toward diversity and inclusion is to leverage visibility of other diverse people and perspectives working around one situation. At In.Visible Paradigms, it’s mostly white people coming to groups. There’s been diversity in terms of gender, not race. I mostly work with people who identify as men or women. [Diversity and inclusion] may be a question participants have to answer. I am there to build the knowledge base.”

JM: This may be redundant, but do you think the work you do is important, and why?

            B: “Uh, YES! *laughs* Super important! It’s so important. Why? Because this work is both within us and bigger than us simultaneously. I have a personal responsibility to interrogate my own biases where I have internalized oppression and privilege. I have to do this work to make a change. Now we see there are things coming out of the biggest institution which is the White House. It’s bigger than us and within us. It moves toward healing in terms of separating ourselves from conditioned white supremacist and capitalist ways of thinking. I love this work because I see it as generational. I want it to be easier for the next generation working through this. What will our children experience differently? I heard a great comparison of this work and stock by Adri Norris, ‘It’s hard to tell there’s movement between fluctuation.’ There’s been a steady increase toward what’s good and what’s helping people.”

JM: Do you have another job besides In.Visible Paradigms? If so, what is it?

           B: “As a solopreneur, especially at the beginning, I had a full time job and a part time job in addition to starting In.Visible Paradigms. Since expanding In.Visible Paradigms to Boston, MA, I’m concentrating my efforts back to my business and really working towards making this my main source of income. Hopefully soon!”

JM: Did you celebrate July 4th?

            B: “I existed on the 4th of July, 2019.”

JM: I like that!

            B: *laughs* “Yeah! I breathed, I existed. There’s an illustration of two people on July fourth and one’s saying ‘Happy 4th of July!’ and the other says ‘What are your resolutions?’ Personally, I have a hard time—we all have a hard time—existing in this country. Having one day about nationalism and needing to celebrate it feels really off in my body. So, I did not celebrate fourth of July. I had a conversation with some white folks who were hesitant to celebrate it. I felt alleviated by people who said, ‘I don’t feel the need to.’”

JM: Thank you for speaking with us. Is there one last message you want to send out before the interview closes?

            B: “I should have read this one ahead of time.” *laughs* “I think that this work is within us and bigger than us at the same time. We’re coexisting in really oppressive, violent moments. But there’s also moments of community and healing. We just need to keep going and work together.”

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The Juncture Mag staff

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