Monday, January 24, 2011

Why alien pride?

I'm a legal alien, I am a Dane in Boston.

US legal language uses the term "alien" for foreign entities, indeed also to denote out of state. The lawmakers never intended any connotation with scary creatures from Mars. But of course we aliens still feel branded, and it gives the opportunity to savor being misunderstood. We bond by moaning.

There are a lot of us. In greater Boston, I guess there are several hundreds of thousands. We are legal, illegal, we speak strange languages. We are yellow, black, white, brown - just not green. We play pickup soccer together, we roll our eyes at silly American units, and we love discussing and worrying about where we belong.

I once attended a seminar with a Turkish-German author (whose name escapes me) who complained about belonging neither in Germany nor in Turkey. He had an "identity problem". Someone in the audience suggested thinking instead of cultural competencies: to be proud. The glass is half full. I loved it! I think we aliens should be proud of our cultural competencies. Because we have lived in at least two different cultures, we have a perspective on both.

Maybe 30 years ago one could have felt lonely as an alien, but in 2011 there are so many of us that we belong. We are not rooted in a single place, but we share the perspective of all those other people who have moved. It doesn't matter whether we come from El Salvador, Iran, or Sweden. We share a particular perspective on Boston and the US. We know that things could be different. We choose to live here, we feel somewhere between at home and away. We belong with other people like us, but we do not belong in any particular place.

I am glad to have a community of like-minded people. I am proud to be an alien.


  1. I love this! Nice said. I'm happy and proud to belong to such a community, too!

  2. Couldn't agree more. Happy to be an alien. There is always a hint of mystery attached to this brand. It would just not be as interesting if we were all the same.