Meet One of Criminal Justice’s Newest Faculty Members

January 6, 2014 —  

Lallen Johnson

Lallen Johnson, PhD

Lallen Johnson, PhD

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Degree: PhD in criminal justice, Temple University
Research interests: Crime and place, race and justice

Q: What did you do before coming to Drexel?
A: Visiting assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Central Florida

Q: What’s your favorite book? Movie?
A: Book: “Crime and Racial Constructions: Cultural Misinformation about African Americans in Media and Academia” | Movie: “The Purge”

Q: What’s your favorite food or restaurant?
A: Mac n’ cheese

Q: If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be?
A: James Baldwin, bell hooks, Marion Barry

Q: What’s one thing you couldn't live without?
A: My gym membership

Q: When is the last time you did something “for the first time”?  What was it?
A: October of last year, hot yoga

Q: What was the most memorable class you took as an undergrad and why?
A: The most memorable class I took as a college student was an introductory-level biology course. The professor was late at least once a week to a course that ran twice a week. I vowed to never become that kind of professor.

Q: Which current event/issue do you think students should know more about and why?
A: Recently, 13-year old Landry Thompson (white) was traveling with her dance instructors (two black men) when all were stopped by the Houston, TX Police. All were handcuffed, but Landry was detained overnight until the department contacted her parents the following morning. Reports suggest that the officers were suspicious of a young white girl traveling with two black men, in spite of her mother providing written consent. This case is noteworthy because it speaks to the historic and continued elements of racial profiling and “protection” of white womanhood and sexuality. It also shows how the idea of a post-racial America is largely a neo-liberal myth.

Q: What’s one thing every student who plans on taking one of your classes should know about you?
A: I REALLY appreciate it when students come to class with questions and critiques of the assigned reading. That makes me VERY, VERY happy.

Q: What made you want to become a professor?
A: I became a professor because I value autonomy and intellectual freedom. I couldn’t imagine being in a position where my critical thinking and decision-making skills are extremely limited. In other words, I love that I get paid to be nosey by posing interesting questions, investigating them, and sharing my findings with others.

Q: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement thus far in your career?
A: Aside from finding a good job in a very tight employment market, my biggest achievement has been mentoring a graduate student in a research competition. Although she didn’t win, the experience gave her a new perspective on research and it motivated me to be a better teacher.

Q: What course would you be most excited to teach at Drexel and why?
A: I actually have the pleasure of currently teaching the course that I’m most excited about—Race and Justice. Not only do my students get to learn about how the criminal justice system perpetuates notions of race, but also how it is influenced by the social construction of race. Perhaps more important is that they get to have an open, respectful and informed dialogue about race—something that we don’t do enough in post-secondary education or general society. In turn, my students teach me about the pedagogy of race.

Q: What do you hope to add to the CoAS community?
A: I hope to contribute to an ongoing trend of critical research and activism that engages with and assists disenfranchised groups and communities. I also hope to engage students in learning formats where they can note, analyze and describe solutions to social problems rather than merely reading about them.

See Lallen Johnson, PhD, in action: CoAS Dean’s Seminar: “The Trojan Horse of Whiteness: Black and Brown Communities, White Drug Offenders and Violence,” Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 3:30 – 5 p.m., Disque 109