Among the myriad real and important issues, Kevin chooses to focus on privilege, especially white privilege. This is the issue that is most present and relevant in his daily life. Kevin’s awareness of white privilege comes in part from his experiences at Peace Church. Anti- racism dialogue circles changed the way he thought about working for justice. Through ASDIC, he learned about whiteness and how the system of white privilege creates racism. He found that his work, done from his place of privilege, is to dismantle that system in the environment and in himself. Kevin would most like to change the notion of identity-based superiority: the often unconscious but powerful belief that being white, straight, English speaking, able-bodied, or male means one is inherently better, more valuable, and more deserving.
For the last eight years Kevin has developed and facilitated educational opportunities around race and white privilege. His goal is to help white people see the system of privilege and understand how to resist this system in their own lives and in the institutions in which they are involved.
At the College of Saint Scholastica, Kevin provides staff training in diversity development. He also teaches Social Work at UMD and UWS. He is involved in community training on inclusivity and equity. At the heart of his work is the goal of becoming aware of how each of us embodies the dynamics of privilege.
If we were we able to work past these dynamics and if these systems were transformed—within ourselves, interpersonally, and internationally— Kevin believes the world would see the elimination of those unconscious biases that drive fear. We would be able to form authentic and mutual community. Institutionally we would see all people excelling and their contributions being appreciated.
Kevin believes that we are faced with incredibly overt signs of how far we are from where we need to be. And yet he has to believe that we are somehow moving forward. Perhaps one sign of progress is the increased awareness of the consequences of the system of privilege. Another source of hope is working with young people. Kevin sees how young people consciously engage in equity. The fact that young people across the political spectrum support gay marriage gives him hope.
Kevin is humbled by the lives of people who don’t have his ability to choose when and where to engage in justice work: people who stand for justice, when doing so endangers their already precarious security, people who work nonviolently to transform a system so resistant to their demands.
Kevin believes conscious endorsement of fairness alone isn’t enough. He believes we still have to transform oppressive systems and negate unconscious bias. This is what drives Kevin’s commitment to working for justice.
Thank you to Susan Mullenix, who interviewed Kevin.