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In the new PBS documentary series “Asian Americans,” a clip from the 20th-century TV Western “Bonanza” becomes the perfect metaphor for the Asian American experience.

The documentary series was created by a team of Asian American filmmakers, including Academy Award-nominated series producer Renee Tajima-Peña, who survey the breadth of the Asian American experience over the past 170 years.

In both cases, Asian Americans were galvanized into activism that led to a stronger sense of collective identity and to important alliances.

Some episodes of “Asian Americans” are stronger than others, and there are occasional stumbles in editing and gaps in context.

“Asian Americans” airs at 8 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, May 11-12, on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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