Monday, December 28, 2020

"To make rich people poorer, and poor people more comfortable"

I delivered an early version of these reflections at the Community Christian Church on December 26, 2020. 


One of the fascinating aspects of cultural traditions, including religious traditions, is how they have been used in both healing and harmful ways. If we return to an insight made by the feminist and liberation theologian Dorothee Solle in 1984, we can group our religious expressions into two main categories, what she called the “double function” of religion:

as apology and legitimation of the status quo and its culture of injustice on the one hand, and as a means of protest, change, and liberation on the other hand.” (“The Christian-Marxist Debate of the 1960s,” Monthly Review, 36 (July-August): 20-26).

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Antiracism in an Organizational Context: An Example Policy

During 2020, I've been working with a nonprofit on their organizational development, providing an organizational assessment, developing infrastructure, and writing policies. The following is an example of an antiracism policy that intends to support the organization's continued growth in the direction of equity and justice. It is edited to remove identifying details. 


Commitment to Racial Justice

Antiracism Policy, August 2020

__________ recognizes that commitment to and growth in antiracism is a vital part of fulfilling our organizational mission to “__________________.”

Our Anti-Harassment Policy includes a reference to race, color, national origin, ancestry, and citizenship. This document is meant to further clarify what this commitment means to and for our organization and community, including our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Our Bodies Will Be Heard: A meditation for grief, healing, and TGNC liberation (TDOR 2020)

I offered this guided meditation as part of our local Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is a simple practice, using our breath to help us get in touch with our hearts. I invite you to participate in whatever way you are comfortable in this meditation for grief, healing, and transgender and collective liberation.


We return tonight to where we had to begin: by listening to our bodies. In the face of a society that told us we couldn’t, shouldn’t, or didn’t exist as transgender and gender expansive folx, we dared to listen to ourselves. And our bodies told us: “This is what this body is like.”

Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I listen to my body. (bell) 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

After All the Votes are Cast: A Call to Continuous Action

I delivered these reflections at the Community Christian Church on November 8, 2020. It is lightly edited. 


Despite Tuesday’s election results, Donald Trump received widespread support across the USA, signaling a tolerance for, and, in many cases, a celebration of, Trump’s performative fascism and a growing normalization of White nationalism. Understanding that the popularity of authoritarian leaders is a symptom of these deeper problems in our society, we realize that we still have vital work to do to close up the vulnerabilities that make fascism possible. Now is not only a moment to celebrate, but a moment to rededicate ourselves to creating a future where kindness and compassion, justice and wisdom, are not only possible, but real.

Performative Fascism as a Way of Life

Friday, October 2, 2020

Practicing Self-Kindness During a Pandemic

The following is a summary of a teaching I gave at Dinh Quang Buddhist Temple in response to the question of how to sustain our daily practice during the pandemic. 


The first part of the practice is just this: giving a compassionate, honest look at what we’re actually experiencing. A pandemic is something that brings us into contact with suffering, especially kinds of suffering we often avoid as a culture. And we also experience this suffering more frequently and intensely, and that’s something that deserves our kind attention. In Thich Nhat Hanh’s metaphor, we should be taking care of our suffering like we would a little baby.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Against Human Sacrifice: Reclaiming Self & Community Care

I shared this reflection on August 8, 2020 at Community Christian Church as a response to the commodification of self-care, the federal government's continued mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impacts on vulnerable populations, especially essential workers. It is lightly edited. 


I have a difficult relationship with the term self-care. On the one hand, it’s been wonderful seeing self-care become more widely discussed and appreciated. In many cases, it’s become part of our everyday conversations with each other, and there’s more acceptance than ever that self-care is not only legitimate, it is essential to both personal and social well-being. On the other hand, self-care has become (predictably) commodified, and self-care is increasingly discussed in terms that have a price tag in time, money, and resources that (also predictably) make it mainly available to those with the privilege of financial and social stability. Self-care is also increasingly weaponized against people, such as working class folks, who are told that they need to do a better job of self-care so that they can endure what are essentially unhealthy, unjust working conditions. But the goal of self-care is not to become better at accommodating injustice. 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Guided Meditation: Justice & Joy

I offered this guided loving-kindness meditation as part of a healing justice session for participants in the ACLU Trans Leadership Table (2020). 

Begin by getting in touch with your body. 

Find a way to sit, lie, or stand where you feel stable and centered. Listen to your body, finding the balance: relaxed without slouching; alert without being rigid. It may help to take some deep breaths, or to stretch and relax. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

“Thievery from the Top Down”

I delivered this talk, with a focus on connecting police brutality with economic injustice, at Community Christian Church on June 27, 2020, as part of an ongoing series of reflections on police brutality, racial injustice, and our responsibility to dismantle White supremacy. It is lightly edited. 

     Indiana Jones is perhaps an unexpected starting place for a reflection like this, so bear with me. I confess to loving the movies as a child – the music remains incredible, and who can resist a little bit of Harrison Ford’s charisma, not to mention the memes about punching Nazis? I wish that was the whole of it, but we also get a glimpse of a worldview that has shaped and ruled the world for hundreds of years. And while I would love to ruminate on one of Indiana’s more adorable catch-phrases (“Why’d it have to be snakes?”), the one that really applies here is: “It belongs in a museum.”

     In Indiana Jones’ case, it is easy to root for the least terrible White guy. I mean, Indiana really just wants to protect priceless artifacts from the Nazis, private collectors, and evil cultists. All of the movies’ bad guys have motives that are obviously repugnant; they set a pretty low bar. And then we have Indiana Jones, who doesn’t even want to profit off of the looting of cultural and historic relics; he just wants to preserve them. What could be wrong with that? But when I watch these kinds of films now, what stands out to me is 1) how invisible non-European cultures and people are, and 2) how ubiquitous the assumption that White people have a legitimate claim to own and preserve what belongs to others, and to accumulate profit and power at the expense of others, really is. It’s so ingrained that it hides in plain sight.

Monday, June 22, 2020

TLT 20 Interview

The following is the text from an interview I did with the ACLU-MO's Trans Justice Program, in connection with my role as an advisor on the Trans Leadership Table 2020. It is lightly edited. 

Please introduce yourself. 

Hi! I'm Katya; I'm a genderqueer/nonbinary person living in southwest Missouri. I wear a lot of hats, but most of them relate to my work in community development, with an emphasis on conflict transformation and reflective practices. I’m a co-director of a tiny nonprofit dedicated to making these tools and skills available to communities that don’t usually have access to them. 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Ongoing Work

I wrote the following article at the request of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, as part of a series of articles on cultivating community committed to the “ongoing work of living lives of mutual care and accountability as a community.” It is lightly edited. 


The first article in this series brought our attention to human diversity as “a source of tremendous richness.” And that's appropriate and wonderful, because there’s a lot to celebrate! But there’s also this other thing, the “ongoing work of living lives of mutual care and accountability as a community.” Because we can also stumble over the differences.