Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Engaged pedagogy in practice

    Laney professor foregrounds women, Latin@s

    My Vagina, My ChoiceI first met Alicia Caballero-Christenson at the recent Project Truth demonstration in the Laney quad. She had brought her class to protest Project Truth’s anti-abortion images and their rhetoric, which she characterized as “psychological terrorism” and she and her class created a pro-choice banner. 
    “Everything started because of my own questions about my identity at a very young age,” Caballero-Christenson says, “and this eventually led to a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Ethnic Studies.” By the time she finished graduate school, Caballero-Christenson found herself working as an organizer for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a position that brought her in touch with Laney and Merritt Colleges. 
    A few years later, she was invited to teach at Laney, and four years later, she is a professor in the Ethnic Studies Department. Her classes focus on the role of women of color in the United States, as well as the cultural and social contributions of the Chicano/Latino people to the country. 
    “We are specifically looking into why we have a growing Latino population in the United States with a rich legacy, which is often marginalized in a dominant United States historical narrative of what makes the United States of America,” Caballero-Christenson says.
    “My goal is to help people start thinking critically and start asking questions. I don’t believe that people should go to a class in order to obtain information; I think it is a learning process and a journey in which you can engage in questioning and think about yourself in relation to others and your community and your family,” she said.
    Caballero-Christenson stresses “engaged pedagogy,” a term she describes as the ability one has to bring their whole selves to the classroom. Is she making an impact? Caballero-Christenson finds it hard to answer the question, as she acknowledges her students’ backgrounds and the difficulties they deal with. 
    Supremacy“We have most of our students working one to two jobs in a community where the rent is becoming more and more expensive, so it’s harder even to have the luxury to be a student.”
    A student’s response when asked about Caballero-Christenson’s teaching style makes it clear that the instructor is realizing her desired effects. “Alicia is my favorite professor at Laney College,” said Kevin Ryan Nava. 
    “She’s genuinely passionate about everything she does. She sets the bar wonderfully high: for herself, her colleagues, and her students. She is at the same time the most human professor I’ve ever met.” 
    Nava continued, “Rather than checking the rest of the world at the door, she embodies the idea that the classroom knows no bounds. She brings her real, authentic self to class every day.
    “She urges all her students to be teachers, students, and active human beings: she asks about our own worlds, and then encourages us to accrue knowledge to be able to go out and improve them.” 
    Returning to the Project Truth demonstrations, Caballero-Christenson recalls that many members of faculty as well as students shared her discomfort. 
    Regarding her participation in the pro-choice demonstration, she suggests that “for me it was more important to create an alternative space for anyone to have a dialogue outside of their brainwashing, or what I call ‘psychological terrorism,’ because they were making people feel afraid.” 
    Caballero-Christenson said she would be organizing events regarding women’s reproductive rights, including a panel on reproductive justice at Laney College on Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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