Becoming American: the Chinese Experience

Decent Essays

Becoming American: The Chinese Experience
SOCY 100
February 18, 2012

Introduction The Chinese Experience records the history of the Chinese in the United States. The three-part documentary shows how the first arrivals from China, their descendants, and recent immigrants have “become American.” It is a story about identity and belonging that is relative to all Americans. The documentary is divided into three programs, each with a focus on a particular time in history. Program 1 describes the first arrivals from China, beginning in the early 1800’s and ending in 1882, the year Congress passed the first Chinese exclusion act. Program 2, which details the years of exclusion and the way they shaped and distorted Chinese American …show more content…

In 1965, the last legal barrier to Chinese immigrants fell with the signing of a new law that ended immigration quotas based on race. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the story of the Chinese in America was primarily a legal drama, played out on the nation’s borders and in courts. After the new immigration law went into effect, it became a personal story told by one individual and by one family at a time. Many new arrivals still struggle to survive and often Chinese Americans still encounter suspicion and hostility. Chinese Americans have achieved great success and now, like so many others, they are stitching together a new American identity. As Michelle Ling, a young Chinese American, tells Bill Moyers in Program 3, “I get to compose my life one piece at a time, however I feel like it. Not to say that it’s not difficult and that there isn’t challenge all the time, but more than material wealth, you get to choose what you are, who you are.” ( This documentary enlightened the struggles and success of the Chinese American who fought many obstacles to maintain their cultural identities and also be American. Their struggles have not ended but like the experiences of many minority groups awareness can help strengthen the bonds that we as American citizens are unified under the precepts of our founding fathers to make our

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