On October 15, 2022, the Umoja-ASTEP program took 14 students and staff to see The Ritual of Breath Is the Rite to Resist. This opera was created in response to the murder of Eric Garner, serving as an act of resistance. The event created an experience where music, visuals, text, and movement could intertwine and invite its audience to co-conspire and highlight the importance of breathing in any way we can.

The field trip was hosted in partnership with Skyline College’s WMLA, BSU, and BAM. It began with a van charter from Skyline College to Stanford University, allowing students a quick campus tour of Stanford University. Notable landmarks included Stanford’s Memorial Church, Stanford Stadium, and the CoHo Café.

Dr. Chad Coates, the Umoja-ASTEP Coordinator, mentioned, “This was a truly transformative experience for those of us who attended.  Most of our students had never attended an opera before, and for their first project to center on Black empowerment, rituals, and resilience as acts of resistance against oppression within our current social/cultural context is phenomenal.  Some students remained after the performance to hear from and engage in dialogue with the project’s creators.”

When asked about her experience, WMLA student Ashley Elliot said it was “very powerful…hearing it on the news…and then seeing the art…made the experience meaningful”. WMLA student assistant mentioned that the opera was a “mixer of emotion…I felt the pain and empathy, and hope…the play made me feel empowered to make a change being in community with one another”.

The Umoja-ASTEP learning community is part of the Global Learning Programs and Services Division at Skyline College. If you wish to learn more about Umoja-ASTEP, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Coates at coatesc@smccd.edu.

Article by Sirreck Brown | Photo by Brittney Sneed

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