Being One of Them and Being Who You Are: The Immigrant's Search for an Authentic Self

Presented with Strand Bookstore


Science fiction allows us the room to imagine what it looks like when alien races come up against one another and, namely, our human race. The genre’s power is in the ability to cloak our human frailties, ugliness, triumphs, and beauty in an alien package for audiences to open and revel in, grapple with. Little are we necessarily conscious of how thin and permeable the membrane between fiction and reality actually is. 

We will look at the Borg of Star Trek lore and seek to identify their ultimate goal of assimilation with the sort of assimilation that occurs in the everyday lives of immigrant communities and communities of color. What happens when you live multiple lives in order to survive? Who is your authentic self? And when your outer identity—namely race—is assimilated by the culture at large, what are the consequences of your inner identity’s mismatch? 

Clare Kendry is Nella Larsen’s embodiment of how explosive these consequences can be in her novel, Passing. We will look at Clare as another fictional example and talk about mental health concerns regarding the very real and ongoing struggle between being one of them and being who you are. It is imperative to have a conversation acknowledging racial division and colorism in order to explain fully why we do not all have these experiences and more importantly, to understand why these experiences exist.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue, the walls lined with leather-bound treasures from a book hand printed in 1480 to a limited edition Ulysses signed by Henri Matisse, the illustrator, and by James Joyce. 


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