The Immigration Working Group will be hosting a screening of this documentary film on Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 5:00 pm. The event will take place in the Sociology Lounge (Room 6112) of the CUNY Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave). We look forward to seeing you there.
THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT is a documentary by Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu, produced by Steeplechase Films and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). The film explores the important connections between the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act – the only federal legislation in United States history ever to single out and name a specific race and nationality for exclusion from immigration and citizenship – and the history of American civil liberties, immigration, labor, and culture. THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT examines the dramatic social, political, and economic circumstances that lead to this landmark piece of legislation and the wide-ranging consequences it had on national attitudes towards race, culture, politics, and society. The film also shines a light on the forgotten history of Chinese American resilience and resistance to the exclusionary laws and the affronts to their civil rights, including educational segregation, forced registration, and mass lynchings.
Chinese Americans resisted in many ways, including through community organizing, civil disobedience, and the justice system. They brought 10,000 cases to federal courts, which led to a number of legal precedents that are defining to this day. At its core, THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT is a deeply American story about immigration and national identity, civil rights and human justice, and how we define who can be an American and what being an American means. The film examines the economic, cultural, social, legal, racial, and political dimensions of the law; the forces and events that gave rise to it; and the effect it has had, and continues to have, on American culture and identity, as well as the larger issues of globalization, immigration, labor, and civil rights that continue to dominate headlines today.