On September 20th, 2018, Skyline College hosted the Call to Consciousness College Lecture Series. This program was co-sponsored by the Center for Student Life and Leadership Development, the Associated Students of Skyline College (ASSC), and the Division of Student Equity and Support Programs (SESP). The program opened with welcoming remarks from Dean Lasana Hotep. He said to students, “Our goal as educators is not to provide you a syllabus, test, quizzes, assignments and grades. Our goal is to ignite a passion for lifelong learning in you. The world is a classroom and this opportunity outside of your formal class structure is to continue that journey about being excited about learning and being curious about the world.” Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud also provided remarks on behalf of the college and ASSC President, Michelle Chee, introduced Reverend angel Kyodo Williams to the stage.
Rev. angel is an author, spiritual leader, master trainer and founder of the Center for Transformative Change in Berkeley, California. Ordained as a Zen priest, Rev. angel is a Sensei¸ the second of only five black women recognized as teachers in the Japanese Zen lineage. Rev. angel talked about the value of finding and discovering one’s calling and purpose in life. She shared with the audience the different inflection points of her journey in learning and applying wisdom teachings. On a daily basis, we as human beings must make important decisions about our lives such as figuring out what to major in, what career path to take, which job to apply for, etc. Rev. angel challenged the audience to shift their thinking from focusing on WHAT we should be to think about HOW we should be in the society. She stated that there is no position or role that is useless or beneath anyone and that it’s more important to reflect on how we want to be or show up in that particular role. Rev. angel also shared that the call to consciousness is not an isolated event in our lives but in fact, we receive a call to consciousness consistently and daily and therefore we must make a decision to respond to those calls.
Rev. angel also talked about how our ancestors had to answer a call to consciousness in the face of injustice and discrimination. She said, “The Call to Consciousness has been there from the very moment at which someone stepped foot on this land and decided that they were discovering a place that other people had already been. The so-called dream of America was not designed for us in this room and yet you are here because people responded to a call of consciousness even when they were structures and systems that hindered the potential for people to be able to realize that dream.”
At the end of her talk, students participated in an engaging discussion with Rev. angel about how to find hope, motivation, and support on a daily basis while being confronted with major life challenges and struggles. Following the lecture, folks had an opportunity to meet Rev. angel and participate in a book signing for two of her books, Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation and Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace.
Mustafa Popal, Professor of History said, “I think I have a firm understanding on equity and social justice. I have an ever-improving understanding of how to do the work of social justice and equity, but Dr. Angel Kyodo Williams provided clarity in how to find psyche-emotional peace with the complexity of the work we engage in. In social justice work there is always the conversation of ‘self-care’ that almost always translates to taking some time to yourself, but Rev. angel described a practice of “being”, which integrated ‘self-care’ into the work.”
Article by Katrina Pantig | Photo by Zaw Min Khant