The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act set off a series of discriminatory legal actions by the federal government targeted at Chinese persons. It’s one of many dark stains on American history. There’s a backstory to understand, of how the law came into being, and there are dozens of stories, too, of those who fought the laws until they were finally repealed, over 60 years later.
Today, I watched an essential documentary on the Chinese Exclusion Act. Check out the trailer:
And here’s why it’s particular timely today, according to historian Mae Ngai:
“This couldn’t come at a more important time in our country… because it tells a story, it tells our story. It shows what was done to our people, but it is also relevant to our present moment, and what is going on today, with anti-immigration laws and prejudices and what’s going on with the Muslim ban. They all have their roots, legally and politically in Chinese exclusion.”