From his native Jamaica to a village in China, the journey of half-black, half-Chinese Vincent Lee began when he was only a young boy. Chinese immigrants to Jamaica in the late 1800 and early 1900s were largely men from southern China, known as Hakka. They often entered into relationships with Jamaican women as did Lee’s father. When his father died prematurely, like many Chinese-Jamaican sons shipped to China to discover their Chinese roots, Lee was sent to his father’s homeland, but endured hardship and servitude at the hands of his Chinese relatives.
Separated from his mother and siblings for years, Vincent returned to his native homeland as an adult. However, he had to leave behind a family in China and rebuild a new life in Jamaica.
Half is a story of the universal journey of love, loss, search for identity, and finally reconciliation and acceptance.
It illustrates the strength of family bonds, the importance of culture and how for Vincent Lee, returning home to find his family and his roots helped him become whole.
Chow Me Lee
English and Hakka Chinese with
NTSC, Color, Approx. 26 mins.
© Ms. Chin Productions
“With HALF, Jeanette Kong gives us a stunning and intimate window into the untold stories of Chinese-Jamaicans in Jamaica and in the diaspora. The film ... illuminates the tragedies and triumphs of transnationalism as well as the lesser known ethnic histories in the Caribbean.”
— Deborah A. Thomas, Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Producer and Co-Director of Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens
“HALF is a moving story of diaspora, trauma, survival and, ultimately, love. The documentary gently unfolds the narrative of Vincent Lee, a man born in Jamaica but raised in China, and four generations of a his transnational Chinese-Jamaican-North American family. Lee and his family prepare food, laugh and share memories - all the while, Lee speaks in a blend of Hakka and Jamaican Creole. Lee’s language is perhaps the most powerful symbol of his migrant itinerary as a Chinese-Jamaican for whom both countries, yet neither country, meant ‘home’. The film triumphs as a unique contribution to knowledge of Chinese Caribbean history. At the same time the compelling conversations with Lee and his family capture poignant, shared, inter-generational truths about 20th century Caribbean transnational lives. It is a film that will resonate at a profound level with anyone, but perhaps especially with Caribbean and diasporic people of any background or nationality.”
— Melanie J. Newton Director of Caribbean Studies at New College & Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto
“I am moved to tears by this beautiful film from Jeanette Kong, who generously shares the transnational story about fellow Jamaican-Chinese Vincent Lee, whom she lovingly terms ‘Half’ because of his mixed Hakka Chinese and Afro-Jamaican heritage. In a life that spans Jamaica, Guangdong (China), and Sioux Falls (South Dakota, USA), and over four generations of his multiracial family, Vincent’s life is a slice of both the Chinese diaspora and the Jamaican diaspora, as told lovingly by his daughter and granddaughter, his sister, and his niece, and captured in his own prodigious memory. ”
— Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Professor of History, American Studies and Ethnic Studies Director of Ethnic Studies, Department of American Studies, Brown University