Open Book/ Open Mind: Futureface – Alex WagnerAdult Events 09/14/2018, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM Main Library – Auditorium
A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging
Alex Wagner is co-host of Showtime’s The Circus and a contributor to CBS News and The Atlantic. She was formerly the host of MSNBC’s Emmy-nominated Now with Alex Wagner. Now the acclaimed journalist travels the globe to solve the mystery of her ancestry, confronting the question at the heart of the American experience of immigration, race, and identity: Who are my people?
Alex Wagner has always been fascinated by stories of exile and migration. Her father’s ancestors immigrated to the United States from Ireland and Luxembourg. Her mother fled Rangoon in the 1960s, escaping Burma’s military dictatorship. In her professional life, Wagner reported from the Arizona-Mexico border, where agents, drones, cameras, and military hardware guarded the line between two nations. She listened to debates about whether the United States should be a melting pot or a salad bowl. She knew that moving from one land to another—and the accompanying recombination of individual and tribal identities—was the story of America. And she was happy that her own mixed-race ancestry and late twentieth-century education had taught her that identity is mutable and meaningless, a thing we make rather than a thing we are.
When the possibility of an exciting new twist in her already complex family history was mentioned, Wagner was suddenly awakened to her own deep hunger to be something, to belong, to have an identity that mattered, a tribe of her own. Intoxicated by the possibility, she became determined to investigate her genealogy. The journey takes Wagner across oceans and she begins to grapple with a deeper question: Does it matter? Is our enduring obsession with blood and land, race and identity, worth all the trouble it’s caused us? The answers can be found in this deeply personal account of her search for belonging, a meditation on the things that define us as insiders and outsiders and make us think in terms of “us” and “them.” In this time of conflict over who we are as a country, when so much emphasis is placed on ethnic, religious, and national divisions, Futureface constructs a narrative where we all belong.
Alex will be in conversation with a TBA partner at the event. The event is free thanks to our Series sponsors The Montclair Foundation and Investors Foundation, but registration below is strongly suggested to ensure a seat. There will be no waiting list if the reserved seats are taken but unclaimed seats will be released at 6:50 PM in the cafe area. Watchung Booksellers will have copies of Alex’s book available for purchase and signing at the end of the event.Click here for more details...