Kayla Reece blazing a trail, master’s student, activist, feminist

Kayla Reece.  Kayla Reece
Kayla Reece.
Kayla Reece

Kayla Reece’s stellar upbringing in a Guyanese household shine through in her brilliant contributions in writing, storytelling, activism and her work in women’s rights.

In a recent interview with Caribbean Life, Reece, a master’s student in Women’s & Gender Studies at The Graduate Center CUNY, said she was pleased and proud to have been mentioned among the accomplished women in “Celebrating Trailblazers and Scholars Who Amplify Women’s History,” a women’s history feature.

A former marketing executive of Kingston’s Fly Jamaica Airways, Reece, is now an editorial assistant intern at Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ), while she pursues her master’s degree. WSQ is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes both academic articles and creative pieces about women, gender, and sexuality. WSQ is published by the Feminist Press at The Graduate Center.

In a recent Q&A with an online blog, Reece talked about her work in assisting on WSQ’s upcoming special issue entitled “Black Love,” scheduled to be distributed this spring.

According to the original Call for Papers, this special issue seeks to explore “what justice looks like when we center love and care at the heart of our politics,” specifically interrogating “Black love as a concept and tool for forming, sustaining, and fragmenting global Black communities in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.”

Reece explained that she has always been attracted to language, fiction writing and prose as a child, and later stumbled on the Feminist Press by reading some of their publications in college.

The student who is still deciding on her latest thesis topic, said her previous graduate level research sought to investigate gender-based violence against indigenous women and girls in Guyana’s gold mining spaces.

“I was looking at, specifically, the recolonizing effect of the extractive industry and how that produces spaces where indigenous women and girls become vulnerable to violence,” said Reece.

The young woman, who completed high school in Guyana, and experienced the rich multicultural life in the Republic, before moving to New York, where she attended St. Francis College, and attained a BA in Communication Arts, specializing in Public Relations & Advertising said she likes taking an interdisciplinary approach to her studies and her work.

For instance, she is also an intuitive tarot guide, a certified 200HR registered yoga teacher, trained in prenatal yoga and as a full spectrum doula. Reece said that part of her activism was to endeavor to support black birthers in their pregnancy journeys through her role as a doula, and bridge that with her other work.

According to the CDC, “Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Multiple factors contribute to these disparities, such as variation in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias.”

Reece teaches two virtual yoga classes per month, and said she uses both Yoga and the Tarot as devices for individual and community building and storytelling.

“I am committed to building futures that ensure women, femmes, trans, queer, and non-binary folk that all have safer and more supported existences,” explained the young woman.

She said she lives and work at the intersection of gender and social justice. Her interests include, but are not limited to, feminist publishing, Caribbean migrations and diasporas, reproductive justice, and women’s physical and spiritual wellness.

Kayla, the daughter of Guyanese parents — Roxanne Reece and Captain Ronald Reece, both known for their long careers in aviation — is a graduate of the University of London, and has lived in Paris, France and Kingston, Jamaica.

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