SBCC Reads panel to discuss new angles on immigration

TOVA KIBAL, Channels Staff

During a political climate where the current president wants to take action to keep immigrants out of the country, SBCC Reads will host a panel discussion with new perspectives on immigration and border experiences.

The discussion will take place at 3 p.m. March 22, in the Luria Library. The panelists will include professor David Starkey, director for the creative writing program, Melinda Gandara, American ethnic studies instructor, and psychology major Juan Perez Vazquez.

SBCC Reads is hosted by the Luria Library, in collaboration with UCSB Reads and Westmont Reads. Featuring events and discussions, its goals is to get more people to read, discuss important issues sparked by their reading, and open up doors for people to share experiences that others may not have gone through themselves.

‘‘There is going to be discussions of both physical and non-physical borders,’’ Library Director Elizabeth Bowman said. “There are political and emotional borders even between people who live in the same town.’’

Students and faculty members will participate in the panel discussion about the novel “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea. The book tells a story many have never heard of before and touches on subjects of deportation, sexual harassment and struggles of surviving as an immigrant.

‘‘In the political environment we live in today, not many people know who the people that immigrate into this country are,’’ Perez said. ‘‘Only one part of the story has been told, and this book tells the other story.’’

The heartfelt story touches on racial and gender issues that will leave readers with new perspectives on immigration. The book centers around 19-year-old Nayeli who suddenly notices that there are no men left in her border village. The men have left for a better, easier life in America, and so she decides to head up north to round up seven men to protect the residents, in fear of her village being taken over by bandits.

The book’s relevance with our time is apparent in the discussion of the political environment the country is currently experiencing concerning questions of immigration, something Perez believes will be an important part of the panel discussion on Wednesday.

Growing up in Mexico, Perez experienced many of the issues that the books touches on, and he believes it tells an important story of the immigrants coming into this country. His own father had to do the journey from Mexico and leave his family behind to support them from afar.

‘‘I missed the part of my childhood with my dad always being there,’’ Perez said. ‘‘You gain something, but you lost something too.’’

Spreading the story of what it’s like for Mexicans having to leave their families behind to support them, Perez believes he can help broaden people’s perspectives. He feels that it is especially important because of the hateful environment towards immigrants today, due to how immigrants have been portrayed.

‘‘The politics don’t acknowledge all the parts of our reality,’’ Perez said. ‘‘I want people to see a different view, and I think this is a way to reach other people.’’