CAAM, WETA, Flash Cuts, LLC., Tajima-Peña Productions, ITVS
Renee Tajima-Peña’s five-part documentary series is an ambitious start toward the push for a deeper racial consciousness around the fastest growing group in the United States. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the series places Asian communities at the center of debates about belonging and citizenship in America. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to the internment of Japanese Americans, from the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 to the targeting of South Asian Americans after 9/11, and from hostilities toward Vietnamese refugees to the burning of Koreatown after the L.A. riots, Asian Americans have long been regarded as America’s perpetual immigrants and foreigners within. The documentary reminds us that this history is a violent one. At the same time, the series asks us to consider who gets to be at the center of these American stories, offering the requisite national, ethnic, religious, political, linguistic, and cultural diversity that make up Asian American communities across the country today. In turn, we move beyond a singular representative testimony and bear witness to varying, complex, and touching portraits of individuals, identities, enclaves, and movements, collectively born in the face of tragedy and in spite of the burdens of trauma. For its revelatory storytelling as a demonstration of activism and solidarity in the American story and fight for justice and dignity, Asian Americans wins a Peabody.