Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Hosted and narrated by Bill Moyers, this multipart PBS documentary chronicles the history of Chinese-Americans from the mass migrations of the 19th century due to plague and famine in their homeland. Journeying to the West Coast with dreams of freedom and opportunity dancing in their heads, the newly arrived Chinese found themselves ridiculed, beaten, murdered, and pressed into forced labor as "coolies" to work on the nation's railroads. Thanks to rampant xenophobia (fostered by inaccurate and prejudicial information regarding the spread of crime and disease amongst "foreigners"), a number of laws were passed in the late 19th century to prohibit further emigration of Chinese, with the Exclusion Act of 1882 remaining in effect until 1943. Miraculously, the Chinese-American community survived, assimilated, and eventually prospered, ultimately developing its own culture within a culture, the "ABCs" (American Born Chinese). The documentary is divided into three segments: "Gold Mountain Dreams," "Between Two Worlds," and "No Turning Back." Becoming American: The Chinese Experience was originally telecast on March 25, 26, and 27, 2003.
Chinese-American, immigration, assimilation, cultural-identity, dreams-of-success, opportunity