Saturday, December 1, 2007

Commentary | "First Person Plural" (2000)

In the essay “What Must I Be? Asian Americans and the Question of Multiethnic Identity,” Paul Spickard argues that persons of Asian descent should embrace their Asian ethnicity perhaps even more if they are situated in an Anglo-American context. Even though Deann Borshay is not multiethnic, I think that her story of being adopted in a white American context is one that really complicates the notion of reconciling multiple identities. Whether it is possible to feel completely whole in either context (or even between them) is a question that I don’t think Deann has found an answer for in this film.

While she describes her connection to her Korean family and Korean culture as stemming from emotion and memory, she also comes to the realization that because she no longer depends on the Borshays for survival she has difficulty accepting them as her parents. I think in this way she is questioning where her loyalty should lie—with the family who took care of her or the family she feels that she truly belongs to but can’t truly communicate with. It’s difficult to choose sides, and because each adoptee’s experience is so different, there are no easy answers. What this film does bring up, however, are important ideas about the human need to belong to a past that can validate our present existence; and no matter how far removed we may be from it, why some consciousness of our roots and ancestry is vital to our self-worth.

Company Credits (via
Production Company / Independent (Dir. Deann Borshay)
Distributors / Independent Television Services (IVTS), PBS P.O.V., National Asian American Telecommunications Association

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