Keeping the Faith in Education was proud to publish Kevin Lally’s essay “Shortening the Shadow of Whiteness.” He is a busy man, but I caught him long enough to ask a few questions about himself, his work and his studies:
Ellie: Your essay poignantly addresses race in the classroom. When did you first begin to realize your whiteness as a person? As a teacher?
Kevin: My whiteness was evident from the very start, though I did not fully recognize it as such until I read Thandeka’s ‘Learning to be White.’ As a person, I had felt particularly distant from Black and Latina culture, though I attributed that to them somehow, rather than to my own ethnic discomfort. Similarly, as a teacher, it was hard to avoid attributing behavioral or academic ‘deficits’ to the students rather than to my own distorted sense of what a classroom or a student should look like. When I began thinking of these discrepancies in terms of whiteness, not only did these confusing issues make more sense, but the solution became evident; in addition to the good work of education, focus on what whiteness means.
Ellie: You are currently studying as well as teaching. How does your work as a student compliment your work as an educator? Any book recommendations for people who want to learn more?