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PBS delves into the Chinese Exclusion Act with their new documentary

Photo via YouTube.


Alhambra , CA United States

I had the privilege of attending a 45-minute preview for the upcoming PBS documentary, American Experience: The Chinese Exclusion Act. I highly recommend that every American watch this documentary on immigration. The project was started in 2012 and completed in 2017.

The preview was hosted by filmmakers Li-Shin Yu and Ric Burns, who showed the sections dealing with the the genesis of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the reasons “paper sons” came to be. Paper sons were Chinese immigrants who got to this country by posing as the relatives of Chinese Americans who already had citizenship in the United States, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect. Other related topics, not shown in the preview, are covered in the full-length film.

As the filmmakers commented during Q&A, the real stars of this film are the historical documents and pictures themselves. They tell the story of the Chinese Exclusion Act with their very existence. Today’s politics was not the focus, reason or subtext in the making of this film. Rather, the injustice of what happened to Chinese Americans during the founding of this country is relevant no matter what the political context.

As I congratulated Li-Shin Yu during the post-film reception, I remarked that to truly appreciate this documentary, one should set aside personal politics and simply watch, listen and learn – to which she heartily agreed.

The extended preview will be shown again for free at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library on Sunday, May 13 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The library is located at 318 S. Ramona Avenue in Monterey Park.

If you can’t make it to the screening, please see this enlightening and defining documentary on PBS on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 8-10 pm EST. You will be very glad that you did.”

Jeu Foon is a writer, singer, guitarist, ukulele accompanist, taiko drummer, former stockbroker and retired engineering supervisor. He is the founder and host of Rick’s Open Mic on Wednesday nights in downtown Alhambra.

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