November 16, 2021

Episode 12 – “Learning to Survive” with Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty

Surviving is a strategy. Thriving is a path towards unlimited opportunities. Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty shares her experiences of unlikely mentors, educational events, and faith that led her to challenge the oppressive systems that hold back so many from fulfilling their purpose.
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Show Notes


Guest Bio:

Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty was born in Los Angeles, but raised in Acapulco, Mexico for most of her childhood. She is the daughter of immigrant parents and a first-generation high school and college graduate. She also completed a Master of Counseling and a PhD in Education Policy and Social Context. Dr. Alma is a Mexicana activist intellectual, an expert and practitioner in the field of education, a lover of Jesus, and the cofounder of the Prickly Pear Collective, a faith-based, trauma-informed collective bringing people together to move toward healing. She’s also the cohost of The Red Couch Podcast with her husband, who most people know as the rapper Propaganda.


Summary of EPISODE:

Everything in Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty’s young life seemed stacked against her, and she grew up literally fighting to survive. She learned that education was the key to changing her situation, and Jesus was the key to changing her heart. In this episode of Where Ya From?, Rasool talks with Dr. Alma about her childhood experiences of being in a gang, living in two different countries, and having mentors show her the power of education and how these experiences and relationships shaped her future. Her success sparked a desire to show others that they, too, can navigate a better path, especially through education.


Notes and Quotes:

  • “So going into school was actually, I would say, what God really used in my life to just kind of give me a grounding sense of identity and just purpose from a very early age.”
  • “It was totally a survival mechanism. Whenever there were folks that were trying to test me, I was just real quick with my fists. I learned to be a fighter and a survivor before I learned nurturance and all this other fluffy stuff that I’ve had to kind of relearn on my own.”
  • “I was still in a place where I was just like, ‘Oh, this is just how the world is.’ You just join a gang, because if you don’t, you get picked on by the gang. That’s just how it happens. So to me, it was about survival, and it was like a strategy. But it was also about who my friends are . . . these are girls who live in this community.”
  • “I realized if I would have known some of the stuff when I was younger, if there would have been policies in place that were just a little different . . . people in my community could have known about all the different pathways to higher ed. This would be awesome; I want to do this. And that’s when I really fell in love with education as a field and just wanting to give back to my own community, but also expand the way that we do education in general.”
  • “As I went up the ladder in my own educational journey, there were less and less folks like me, you know. There were more and more folks that were already from privileged positions in our society. There were already folks that are third, fourth generation college-goers.”
  • Of course He would bring me over here where that would make me the uncoolest person on the block to be Christian. But that’s just how God works. He knows each of us very well. And sometimes that’s what it takes, right, to really get through our hearts.”
  • “To me, decolonizing is to understand my faith beyond the white gaze and the way that white populations have understood my religion, Christianity. Okay, so for instance, like you might want to decolonize the fact that Jesus is not a white baby. He was a brown baby, and He grew up, and He became a man. Some people only have that image of like the white little cherub, white-looking baby. And that’s kind of like decolonizing.”


Links Mentioned In Show:


Verses Mentioned in Show:

  • Doubting Thomas in the Gospel

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