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Becoming an American

In: Historical Events

Submitted By sele
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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of exclusion and the way they shaped and distorted Chinese American life, opens in 1882 and ends soon after Congress repealed the exclusion acts in 1943. Program 3 examines life during the Cold War, in the wake of immigration reform in 1965, through the years of the Civil Rights Movement, and to the present day with new opportunities and new challenges for Chinese Americans. These three themes discussing the history will be the focus of this paper documenting the journey of the Chinese American dream.

Becoming American: The Chinese Experience Program 1 begins in the mid-1800s a time of civil war and famine in southern China. Young Chinese men left their villages to search for better opportunities in other parts of the world. When the news of a gold rush in California reached China in 1849, thousands headed for the United States. Like others from Europe and the Americas, very few became rich, but many remained in the United States to take advantage of other opportunities in the West. Some Chinese helped build the first transcontinental railroad in the late 1860s. Others used their skills as miners, fishermen, and farmers to build lives in a new land. Still others improvised new jobs and acquired...

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