Dignity to Dream: 6th Annual Social Justice Conference kicks off with poetry

Willie Perdomo, author and poet, was the first keynote speaker

Dignity to Dream

Willie Perdomo speaks about his creative journey during the pandemic. Zoom screenshot

Marlena Harvey, Managing Editor

Trying to keep his mind sharp and creative while in lockdown during the pandemic, Willie Perdomo needed to come up with a new routine.

He found inspiration from his calendar. It was National Poetry Month. 

Perdomo started writing one Haiku every morning to center himself before the day began.

After that month passed, he continued this as a daily meditation exercise.

“For a while, I was even doing two, three, even four per day,” Perdomo said.

That was April 2020, and nearly a year later, he still practices this daily exercise.

The pandemic was the end of hanging out as Perdomo knew it, and he needed poetry to help alleviate confinement.

Perdomo shared that part of a keynote speech at the Annual Social Justice and Education Conference held on Zoom on March 25.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Perdomo struggled to find his place in the world of poetry growing up in America. 

Perdomo recounted his experiences as a young person of color in the American education system, and how it affected him growing up as a young poet. 

“My history professor has a bad habit of looking at me when discussing slavery,” he read aloud from one of his poems. “Professor, why do you keep looking at me, when discussing slavery?”

Counselor and UMOJA coordinator Erin Charlens, discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has impacted the yearly conference and herself. Charlens highlighted the challenges of teaching and talking with students and coworkers over Zoom.

“I’m empty some days, but I have students to serve,” Charlens said.

Perdomo said it’s important to always ask questions, as questions can lead to a discovery you didn’t even know you were looking for.

“To be aware is to be alive,” Perdomo said.

The conference ends March 25.

If you missed any of the presentations, videos can be found on the San Diego City College Youtube here

For more information on the conference or the speakers, please visit https://www.socialjusticeandeducationconferencesdcc.org

To see more of Willie Perdomo’s work, please visit his website here.