As the founder of En Conjunto, I’ll endeavor to answer, “why, En Conjunto?” Depending on who you are, there are a couple of things you may be asking in this one question.
- Why do freelancers of color need their own collective?
- Why did you choose to call the collective En Conjunto?
What I desire for En Conjunto to be is a community—where members can bring all of who they are. I launched this collective with more in mind than simply creating a space for freelancers of color. Groups like that already exist and they do so with good reason. When you work independently as a person of color you encounter unique challenges and freelancing is a demanding enough endeavor without the realities of things like race-based wage gaps and discrimination in hiring practices.
We also must consider the unique nature of doing freelance work in justice-oriented spaces—particularly those with a spiritual component. The reality of systemic issues, such as the nonprofit industrial complex, means that the public has been taught to only see legitimacy in larger established entities as opposed to grassroots or individual efforts. Without the protective banner of an organization, freelancers may mistakenly be seen as not established, ineffective, or unreliable. Add to that the cultural norms and biases of different spiritualities, particularly those found within Judeo-Christian faiths, and you get a society that has been taught not to seek out or invest in people of color.
As I mentioned, there are organizations that already exist for freelancers of color. There are also be organizations that serve the needs of people from certain faith backgrounds or people that work in justice-related fields. However, I have yet to come across one that does all of the above. I certainly haven’t encountered one that is dedicated to the ideals of intersectionality and decolonization. For example, as a Christian woman of color, I know of and have even been invited into spaces that included POC, and were spirituality AND justice oriented. But… they were not explicitly LGBTQ-affirming, or they still replicated or centered whiteness.
That is why En Conjunto exists. It is a response to the needs I myself had when I started working freelance. Needs that I heard echoed by numerous (QT)POC—(queer and/or trans) people of color—that needed something that encompassed all the aforementioned needs AND that would offer guidance, community, solidarity, and education as they navigate life as an independent practitioner.
As for the name—to be en conjunto is to be together. It’s a rallying cry and a promise. It is a commitment that those of us in this collective will honor relationships above brands, platforms, resources, or power. We are opting to believe in the truth of abundance rather than the myth of scarcity. We are united in the work we do—work we are better able to do en conjunto.
Thank you and welcome to En Conjunto,