Who Am I really?

by smala1 on November 18, 2013 - 10:58pm

Who Am I Really? 

            “Documentaries are the creations of specific individuals. They are portrayals or representations of the world.” The documentary, Somewhere Between directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton, follows the lives of four teenaged girls adopted from China and is now living in the United States. At this time, the girls range from the ages of 13-15 and their names are Fang “Jenni” Lee, Jenna Cook, Ann Boccuti, and Haley Butler. In profiling Chinese adoptees in contemporary America, Linda Goldstein Knowlton creates a deeply moving documentary illustrating that even the most specific of experiences can be relatable. In this documentary, Knowlton relates her film to four specific terms from sociology. They include race, the “One Child Policy,” cultural shock and identity. These four terms are what help shape the film.

            So what exactly is race? Sociologists define race as human created or constructed categories that assume great social importance. Although we can say that race has something to do with skin shade, hair texture, and geographical origins of ancestors, it is actually so much more than that. Sara Cook, Jenna’s sister, said “Jenna always likes to say that we are white on the inside and Chinese on the outside.” This proves that race is human-created because how can you look Chinese to Americans and yet look white to your own race?

            Cultural shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply travel to another type of life. In this documentary, Knowlton shows one specific little girl who goes through cultural shock. Her name is Rung-Yi aka “The little girl in pink.” She went from living on the streets to being adopted from an American couple. Rung-Yi is a special little girl because she has CP and was told from a very young age that she was helpless. Thanks to Fang, this little girl now has a life outside of China. She, however, has experienced cultural shock because she at first felt very uncomfortable moving to a new country and living with a new family. She very quickly learns to become accustomed to her new life.

             “China’s “One Child Policy” was implemented in 1979. As a result, hundreds of thousands of babies were abandoned, mostly girls. 175,000 live in 26 countries worldwide and 80,000 live in the US, in all 50 states. It is exceptionally rare for these children to find any information about their pasts. Every one of these four girls was a result of the “One Child Policy.” All of their parents wanted a boy and when they gave birth to a baby girl, the father knew they couldn’t keep it.  

            Identity is the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known. Identity is a major key point in this documentary by Linda Goldstein Knowlton. All four of the main characters have, at one point in their life, experienced an identity problem due to the “abandonment” they felt at an early age. Haley Butler once said “I am a banana. I am yellow on the outside and white on the inside.” What she means is that she feels like one person/ race but is classified as another. Fang also says something similar to Haley. She said “I guess I am a child stuck between 2 countries.” What she means is that when she went to go visit China she never felt like a citizen there. She looked like them but didn’t feel the same way. The one last thing I want to mention about identity is the quote that Fang said about Rung-Yi. “I don’t want her to forget what she has been through even though it might be painful and at times she may think she should be ashamed of it. If she can hold on to what she has done in the past she will be able to take one step into the future.” Keeping hold of your childhood is what helps shape your future.

References:

Knowlton, L. G. (Director).  (2011). Somewhere between.  [Motion picture]. United States: Ladylike Films. 

About the author