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August 11, 2021

Movement Maker Profiles: Matice Moore

Matice Moore is a Black, queer, non-binary artist and facilitator from Arizona and a Co-Director of the Brown Boi Project. With an emphasis on leadership development, group process, and healing through creative practice, Matice has worked for over 20 years with youth and adults to address issues related to institutional equity, racial justice, and gender justice.

Who are your people?

My people are Black folks. My people are Trans and gender non-conforming folks. My folx are balancing mental health issues while working through the impacts of gender on their physical bodies and spirits.

My folks are from Arizona and dealing with all of the issues that come with growing up there or in similar places. I think in a broad sense, I do have this feeling like my people are all sentient beings on the planet–the trees, the animals, etc. I think that focusing on my close relations and the folks who share my identities is a portal to connecting with all sentient beings.

What brought you to this work?

My first experiences that I can remember with race and gender as a child were hostile experiences. When I entered into different social justice spaces as a young adult, it was such a relief to have language for those early experiences, and to connect with people who were working to make visible and address various types of harm in their everyday lives. Learning from border activists in Arizona was probably one of my most significant politicizing experiences and I was deeply moved by the collaborations I witnessed between artists and organizers.

Finding the Brown Boi Project community in 2014 was also significant for me. For most of my young adult life, I not only was missing language to describe my gender, but was often the only queer Black masc person assigned female at birth in the room. BBP’s  leadership training was a deeply healing experience that brought together a whole community of folx who’d lived through similar experiences and were interested in thinking about and working to apply more expansive frameworks for gender.

I feel deeply committed to creating spaces that help folks make sense of their own lived experiences, their own traumas, and to do so collectively with the goal of developing strategies that can be shared to support others in their own healing work. I do really believe that healing spaces to explore trauma and to reflect on how we show up in our relationships and in our organizations is critical for growing our capacity, for resisting burnout, and ultimately for creating more liberated spaces for everyone.

What aspect of your movement work brings you the most joy?

My greatest joy is witnessing folx connect with each other and move forward with applying a new idea or concept in their own life or community. For example, during the pandemic we started working with folx to make crisis and wellness plans because we were hearing repeatedly that people in our communities were experiencing some major mental health issues under the isolating strain of sheltering in place. After developing a template collaboratively, folx would leave our group space and share the templates with others in their pods, friends they were organizing with, etc. I love those moments of cross pollination, and watching an idea evolve and spread to others who also need support.

Creating those types of spaces for folks brings me a lot of joy and creating spaces where people can just really deeply rest and make connections to further their  own healing also brings me a lot of joy.

What moves are you making to end violence?

Through the Brown Boi Project we’re exploring how we can support the folks who want to do work around the ways the gender binary inflicts harm and limits the full expression of our humanity. We want to help folx make more connections between gender and abolition, ableism, immigration, and all the ways bodies are surveilled and harmed by the state. We want to support folx in identifying, reclaiming, and healing the parts of ourselves that have been disowned or shut down so that we could be accepted in whatever ways we thought we needed to survive.

After operating for a decade with a sort of bare bones minimum in terms of our internal staff, systems and structures, our work at this moment is to redefine who we are now as an organized group working toward gender justice. As a starting point we’re continuing to make spaces to address patriarchy and the harm inflicted by the gender binary while we also work to build an organization that has the types of sustainable internal structure that cultivates innovation and growth to the same degree as the programs and external spaces we intend to hold for others.

Additionally, our work now is very focused on building better relationships, and our programmatic focus includes healing how we relate to our personal resources/finances, as well as capacity building to engage more meaningfully with transformative justice processes and practices.

How would you describe your leadership strengths?

As a leader I aspire to be highly self-reflective as a way to resist rigidity, and to not replicate the harmful spaces that I’ve been through. I very much want to resist white, corporate, capitalist, nonprofit structures and models and figure out how to really center care and connection within our groups and organizing spaces.

I’ve been through a number of nonprofit educational programs where they are like, “We’re building community. We’re all about love,” but then when you get into the infrastructure of the organization people are miserable, and they hate whoever the supervisor is or the ED or whatever because it’s an exploitative and harmful environment, while at  the same time trying to turn around and create the opposite for the people that they serve.

As a leader, I think I’m trying to learn from those experiences and really create and use my creative ability to center care, to center people’s humanity, to center working at a pace that is humane and thoughtful and intentional for a team that is also trying to also do meaningful work with others. I am for sure still growing and very committed to always learning and trying to improve myself and the ways we approach this work.

What keeps you in the work?

The first thing that comes to mind is curiosity. I feel endlessly curious about how we can create better, more interesting, more supportive spaces for folks and I’m very interested in the whole design process for how a new program or initiative comes into being.

If we try this, how are the intended folks that we’re trying to serve responding to it, and can we make it better? Being in partnership with people in this manner and staying with a process all the way through, and getting to see an actual change on an individual and an interpersonal level really motivates me to stay in the work.

I think that, literally, if I’m able to create a space and people experience positive growth, change, shifts in thinking, then I can keep going.

Art by lizar_tistry