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tv   Global 3000  LINKTV  July 23, 2022 10:00am-10:31am PDT

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del toro: stay up to date on america reframed at wldchanneorg. subsibe to world channel's youtube to go beyond the lens with our filmmakers. te us whatou think using #americarefred. major funding for america reframed was provided by the john. and catherine t. carthur foundation, wyncote foundation the corporation for. additial funding for america reframed provided by open societyoundations, acton family giving, pa foundion, the natial endowment r the arts, and the reva and david logan foundation.
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(waves lapping) ♪ (splashing) narrator: minutes from waikiki beach lies another hawai'i. i'm fourth generation chinese in the islands, and my comnity has long been part of the fabric of hawai'i. but the covid pandemic put even our chinatown on edge. ♪ chu lan kwock-shubert: there was some racism. anytime we are chinese-looking, people kind of stay away from you, like "ugh, you're diseased," you know?
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people didn't want to come into chinatow there just wasn't a lot of foot traffic or retail sales. woman (on phone) put that in there. every phone call was like, "i'm sorry, we, we have to shut down, event canceled." week one, the flowers were in the refrigerator. week two, the flowers were in the refrigerator. and my mom was just so heartbroken. she couldn't believe that we had to throw it away. she kept thinking that, "oh, next week will be better. next week will be better." and then we had to, like-- when we closed the doors, that was a big... a big hit. (cars passing) narrator: the pandemic hit chinatown harder than other parts of hawai'i. with fewer people going to chinatown, longstanding housing and mental health issues became more aprent on the streets nicholas lee: homeless is a lot more visible. i'll probably file five to 15 police reports, like, in a given year,
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just having to do with some kind of vandalism. - hi, cindy's lei shop. wing tek lum: in the evening, a different community takes over. some of it has to do with drugs, and some of it just has to do with people who want a place to sleep. kwock-shubert: i would call myself an advocate for chinatown... (women laughing) ...who wants people to respect our chinatown. mei mei say: ms. chu lan, she do very good work at chinatown. without her, i tell you, like i lost, you know. - (laughs) - she do a lot for the... yeah. - thank you. - i ve appreciate it. - yeah. - yeah. ♪ (sparking) narrator: my family has a building in chinatown where we hold chinese new year banquets every year.
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the building bears my great-grandfather's name, c.q. yee hop. he was the founding member of my family in hawai'i and a prominent businessman. it was in reading his autobiography that i learned about an earlier pandemic that hit honolulu chinatown. in december 1899, the bubonic plague arrived in hawai'i. the first plague victim was in chinatown. the next day, the government imposed an exclusive quarantine on chinatown, locking down the neighborhood. (distant marching) lum: "we are guarded day and night "by those who have complained that we cling together too much, "like grains of sticky rice. "now they will not let us out, fearing our lice and our fleas. "it is true that gray rats scramble beneath our floorboards "and peer down at us from our rafters.
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"our cockroaches are the largest in the four seas, "enough for a man to make a meal of, or so they say. "but this giddy disease has also claimed others elsewhere. "it is just that they wish to believe "that we like to wallow in our own pus, "and believing it is so, they will never allow us outside to live or to work like they do." i think there were very hard feelings that were generated because of the really strong militaristic measures. and they took very drastic measures to mandate that if someone died in a particular building in chinatown, the survivors were put in detention camps, and that specific building was burnt to the ground. (flames crackling) narrator: my great-grandfather wrote... c.q. yee hop (dramatized): the authorities deliberaly ordered certain sections of the city set afire
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to burn out the plague disease. unfortunately, a shift in the winds caused the fires to rage uncontrolled, and the downtown area, including chinatown, went up in flames. at the time, i was outside the quarantine zone. i stood helplessly beside the barricades erected to keep the citizens away and watched with alarm, fear, and dismay, as our market burned to the ground. it was a disaster. we lost everything. ♪ lum: if you walk around chinatown,
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all of the buildings, none of them are before 1900. you kind of put that together, that something happened that basically obliterated whatever was there before in chinatown. narrator: two years after my great-grandfather watched his market burn to the ground, he co-founded a new market, which grew into one of the biggest supermarkets in the islands. (indistinct crowd chatter) it's that resilience that characterizes chinatown then and now. nicholas lee: we had lot more talking with other lei stands and florists, you know, just to get a pulse on how things are. and even compare notes to kind of like share like some insights on just how to navigate this a little bit better. karen lee: the lei is such an essence of our lifestyle. you know, the lei is like... in everybody'story. birth and anniversaries and deaths
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and any momentous occasion. and so, the product stayed strong. narrator: a year into the pandemic, the city began responding to the problems in chinatown, launching programs to bolster a safer community. steve alm: we have developed this program that i'm really excited about, to get the homeless folks assessed and into treatment. the vast majority of the chronically homeless have mental health and-or drug and alcohol problems. so in order to have long-term success, we need to both arrest some pple in chinatown that are there to cause trouble, but we also need to help the homeless and get them into treatment so they can get their lives back. (brakes screeching) narrator: my family was also contacted by businessman eddie flores, as my great-grandfather had been selected as one of 14 people to be honored in a new archway.
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honolulu has one of the few chinatowns without an iconic arch. eddie flores: the purpose of arch is very simple-- it's the pride of the chinese community. this is one way for us to promote chinatown, to invigorate chinatown, to help us, you know, bring tourists in. this is where i do all my shopping in here. and that's my cousin working. my two cousins from the same village in china. (speaking chinese language) - hello! (conversing in chinese language) here in chinatown, you can buy anything. look at this-- dried fish. dry scallop. so we're excited, because we want to clean up chinatown. we want to bring it back to what it used to be, to promote businesses. and this to me is very important. ♪ kwock-shubert: chinatown can be a shining jewel. if there are more people involved in realizing how special a place it is. and i hope everybody has more of a civic-mindedness
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to give some time to help. ♪ narrator: honolulu chinatown rebuilt after the 1899 plague and fire, and i'm hopeful for better days after this pandemic, when i can bring my children to see their great-great-grandfather's name on the archway and learn of the lecy of this place. ♪ ♪
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in the summer of 2005, i'm on a 16-hour flight to a foreign destination i never been to before for my mom. shenzhen, china, is a city that borders hong kong to the south. couple of weeks prior to our trip, i remember sitting on my parents' couch a watching tv. and my mom says, "david, i need to tell you something." the tone of her voice brought chills down to my spine. i'm, like, "mom, what?" "david, i want to go back to shenzhen, china, for two weeks "and revisit the place i was born, "and reunite with an older sister i've never met before. "i'm scared and i don't want to go alone, and i want you to come along with me, okay?" shocked and excited, "mom, how come you never told me you had an older sister before? why?" she takes a deep breath, followed by a long awkward pause, and i feel this nervous tone in her voice. "david, you know i had a hard life.
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"my mom died when i was a baby, "and my dad and stepmohad an opportunity "to bring us to hong kong for a better life. "unfortunately, we couldn't bring my older sister along, and we h to abandon her-- so sad." after my mom told me that, i could not believe the weight of guilt she's been carrying all these years until that day. supportive, being in my mid-20s, i never traveled outside the united states in my entire life. i'm excited to learn more about my culture and my language. after a grueling 16-hour flight, we finally land in shenzhen, china. exhausted and dehydrated from eating too many salted peanuts on the plane, we exit the airport, and remember, standing in the middle of the street with my mom, and just seeing a mist of people walk by us. suddenly, i see an older woman walking towards us.
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as she gets closer, i see a reflection on my mom. oh, my god, i can't believe it's her. as she embraces my mom in her arms, and hugs her as tight as she can. and i stand there, and i stare at both of them. d i think about my older sister back in new york city, and how crazy it would b if we were separated for that many decades. for the fit couple of days, we travel through the countryside and we end up in the neighborhood where my mom was born. it was very urban and dense, and i remember walking through the staircases of one of thbuildings and seeing fishbones everywhere, garbage piled on the side ofhe hallways, and people tightly packed in a single apartment. compared to how i grew up, i had my own room, backyard surrounded by trees. i'm grateful to be raised in the united states.
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although the experience was priceless, ironically, i felt disconnected. directions, advertisement, how everyone interacted with each other was in chinese. and my mom was giving all her attention to her older sister, and i started to feel alienated around them. one afternoon, we end up at a restaurant for lunch. and the waiter brings us our food. and instead of a chops... instead of a fork, he hands me a set of chopsticks. i never used chopsticks in my entire life. parents never taught me, nor how to speak in chinese. born and raised in the bronx, i always assumed my parents wanted me to be american like everyone else, and when we would ever go out to eat, they would always ask the waiter for a fork
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in chinese on my behalf. unfortunately, i don't have that luxury, because of my mom is giving all her attention to her older sister. and i stand up, and i get the waiter's attention, like i'm hailing down a cab. "excuse me, waiter? fork, please." and he gives me a glazed look, and i realize, i'm not in new york city, i'm in shenzhen, china. and i take my hand, and i clench it like a fist, and i make this circular motion on the side of my face. and i say, "fork, fork!" and he gives me this frazzled look. my mom starts to laugh. and she asks the waiter for a fork in chinese, like she did when i was a kid. and now everyone is bursting out in laughter. embarrassed, i storm out of the restaurant. 20 minutes later, i'm back at the hotel, and suddenly i hear music playing down the street.
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as american as it sounds, i ended up at the hard rock cafe. the walls are covered in rock and roll memorabilia: plaques, guitars, and posters. and i see a bunch of people standing by the bar. and i walk through the crowd of people. and i see the bartender with a mic in his hand. and he's doing a cover of stone temple pilots' "wicked garden." impressed, it brought back memories when i was a freshman in a small town called oswego, new york, home to the port of oswego, the hub in the city. i remember i was 18 years old, mid-90s, first time away from home. i missed my family, i missed my friends, i missed sleeping in my own bed, and everyone on campus did not look like me. and i spent all my free time watching mtv. and one night, stone temple pilots' "wicked garden" was aired.
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and i remember the video. it takes place at a rock concert, and everyone is crowd-surfing across the room. it was very uplifting, and inspiring, and encouraged me to meet new people on campus. if stone temple pilots' "wicked garden" could get me through freshman year in a small town like oswego, new york, i'm sure it could get me through two weeks in a foreign city like shenzhen, china. and i can't take it out on my mom and her older sister. i had to take the initiative to change. the next day, we end up at a restaurant for lunch thatfternoon. the waiter brings us our food, and he hands me a set of chopsticks. i'm not gonna look like a fool and try to use the chopsticks, and end up using it as stilts for my hands. and i asked the waiter for a fork in chinese, cha zi.
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and it brought a smile to my mom and her older sister's face. it was truly a rock star moment, like stone temple pilots' "wicked garden."
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(fun music)


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