A community survives as much through love as blood. Ah Ling, son of a prostitute and a white man, is sent from his homeland to make his way alone in California; he rises to valet for a powerful railroad baron and unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor. Anna May Wong, the first Chinese film star in Hollywood, is forbidden to kiss a white man on screen; she must find her place between two worlds and two cultures. The death of Vincent Chin, aspiring all-American, becomes the symbol for a community roused to action in the face of hatred. John Ling Smith, half-Chinese, visits China for the first time to adopt a baby girl; there he sees the long history of both cultures coming together in the spark of a new century.