On September 27, Skyline College hosted the Call to Consciousness College Lecture Series. This program was co-sponsored by 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 and Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, Eugene Whitlock. Dr. Whitlock said, “Skyline’s mission is to empower and transform a global community of learners…my hope is that by you participating in today’s lecture, you will have a greater consciousness around how to imitate these values.”
Kristen Ersando, ASSC’s Commissioner of Activities introduced the guest speaker onto the stage. Dr. Rios opened his talk detailing his childhood as a migrant, high school dropout, and gang member. In 1994, his life story was featured in a Frontline Documentary. He became an Award-Winning Author, Educator, and Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Barbara. Dr. Rios shared about the poverty and violence he experienced growing up in Oakland that led him to eventually drop out of high school and join a local gang. After going in and out of juvenile hall multiple times and witnessing his best friend get shot and die at 15-years-old, Rios decided to turn his life around. He visited a high school teacher that once told him, “When you’re ready, I’ll be here for you.” That educator played a significant role in putting him on a path of success.
Dr. Rios finished high school on time, got accepted into college and graduated from CSU East Bay. He continued his education and earned an MA and Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. Dr. Rios has used his personal and academic journey to motivate, teach, conduct research and publish books about Juvenile Justice, the Youth Control Complex, Restorative Justice, and Educational Equity to students, school districts, and organizations throughout the country. He stated, “You in the audience are the next generation of our political leaders. You are the next generation that’s gonna lead the world and this country in the right direction.”
Dr. Rios shared about an experience as a College Professor where he brought a group of high school students to visit UC Santa Barbara for a campus tour. The students were racially profiled by a campus police officer who stopped and searched them for 45 minutes. After he informed the College President about the incident, the police officer was terminated and the following year, Dr. Rios was asked to be on the committee to hire a new Chief of Police. “You want to change things, go get power. You want power, get yourself an education,” he said. This story was an example of how an education is a tool that empowers us to take action against injustice.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer segment and a book signing of Dr. Rios’ books: Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys, Human Targets: Schools, Police and the Criminalization of Latino Youth and his autobiography, Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D.
Article By: Katrina Pantig