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.
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.