BC hosts a speech by Nick Belardes

Trina Goree, Reporter

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The pitfalls of modern society spark conversation amongst Bakersfield College students. Meth, prostitution, human trafficking, and childhood homelessness were a few of the themes featured in author Nick Belardes’ speech.

The Nick Belardes “Your Place in Words: The Individual’s New Responsibility in the Southern Central Valley Through History and Writing” speech was held on April 9 in the Robert F. Kennedy lecture hall at BC’s Delano Campus. Belardes’ lecture was part of the Cultural Historical Awareness Program (CHAP) series. Students seemed to enjoy the speech despite it covering such scandalous topics.

Belardes spoke of the dark and not so underground world of Bakersfield. Belardes stated, “I wanted to write about the unsayable.”

During the speech, Belardes spoke about an infamous district attorney crime trial that happened some years ago in Bakersfield that dealt with sex, drugs, and cover-ups.

Belardes then asked, “What is our personal Iraq war in the Valley?”

Belardes responded with meth in Oildale, farming pollution, and gang activity in the San Joaquin Valley.

Belardes also mentioned, “Most of us in impoverished communities cling to mediocrity.”

Belardes went on to discuss a story about an individual from Bakersfield that was involved with selling his body on the internet, doing porn, then disappeared somewhere in Mexico. Belardes offered the idea that the individual was a product of the corrupted elite in Bakersfield.

The speech was Belardes exposing issues that too often go unsaid and underrepresented. A common theme that was present in the speech was the ability to find your own voice.

“How do you find your voice in literature?” a BC Delano campus student asked.

Belardes responded, “Put effort into college, into your writing.” Going on to mention that he didn’t apply himself in high school. Belardes continued sharing with students to be present and aware of the world around them. Students should get outside of Delano and their usual friend group. Also being an author, Belardes encouraged students to read everything.

A last piece of advice Belardes offered was to write your opinion.

“Write your opinion even if to yourself,” said Belardes.

Belardes has also taught at BC. He understands the difficulties students face in finding their voice but urged all students to say the unsayable.

Another BC student in the audience mentioned it is one thing to say the unsayable but how do you do the undoable? Belardes responded, “inspire people by speaking, protest, brave society by saying something.”

Maria Hernandez, Delano Campus Tutoring Center tutor, enjoyed the speech and even referred to the speech as being a type of puzzle. Hernandez felt the speech took different topics and ideas that people believe typically happen in other places and connected them to the central valley.

“I felt very positive from the amount of information that was presented during the speech,” mentioned Hernandez.

Hernandez agreed when asked if the information during the Belardes speech was useful.

“It is useful because us students get exposed to topics that you don’t know happen in the central valley.”

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