Language, Incarceration and Exploitation on ‘Asian American Life’

The latest episode of CUNY TV’s “Asian American Life” takes a look at New Yorkers, young and old, learning Mandarin Chinese; what it’s like being incarcerated as an Asian American; and the exploitation of Asian workers within the Asian-American community.

With a growing number of people learning Mandarin, from toddlers to business professionals, “Asian American Life” visits two schools – a Mandarin Seeds preschool class in Lower Manhattan and farther downtown, an adult class at Wall Street Chinese. Watch at 1:44.

Do perceptions of Asians as the “model minority” stop at prison gates? The segment at 7:27 speaks to Asian Americans who spent time behind bars, to learn about the stereotypes they encountered, how their community treated their families, and the challenges of transitioning back into society.

Human trafficking doesn’t just involve the sex industry. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable to being the victims of labor exploitation, including in Asian communities where offenders are often within the same communities. At 16:25, “Asian American Life” speaks to former college students in Thailand who ended up passing out religious fliers and soliciting donations on the streets of New York and sleeping on a church floor.

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