BMCC’s Asian American Student Population

BMCC’s Asian American Student Population

Despite the dominant narratives about Asian American academic achievement at elite institutions, 40% of Asian American college students are enrolled in community colleges in the US, and this number is actually growing. [Source: Park, 2013]  At CUNY, Asian American students make up 17% of the community college body. 

Students who identify as Asian make up 15% of the student body at BMCC. China, Bangladesh and Guyana are three of the top 10 foreign countries represented at the college and Chinese, Bengali, Arabic, Cantonese and Korean are in the top ten spoken languages (2019). 

Beyond some simple facts, there is little available data about our AAPI students’ identities and experiences. From listening to AAPI students, we know there is a lot of variation with respect to economic position, immigration status, English language literacy, family responsibilities, academic interests, and other issues but most of this information is shared in informal conversations. 

The ABI is conducting a needs assessment, through a survey and focus groups, to learn more about the specific experiences of our diverse AAPI student population so that our programming can better serve their needs.

What do we mean by “Asian American”?

The term “Asian American” includes people from a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences  and communities including: South Asian, Southeast Asian, East Asian, Central Asian, West Asian, and Asian diasporas in the Caribbean.  

Asian American includes people who identify as Afghan, Bangladeshi,  Bhutanese, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese (Mainland Chinese), Filipino, Hmong, Hong Konger or Hong Kongese, Indian, Indonesian, Iranian,Iraqi, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Nepali, Pakistani, Palestinian, Sri Lankan, Syrian, Taiwanese, Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Uzbek or Uzbekistani, or Yemeni. 

It can include people who are Asian Caribbean, Asian Latinx, or Asian African, whose ancestors were from a nation in Asia they but migrated to the Caribbean, or Latin America, or Africa. Asian American can include people who are multiracial, people who are in cross-racial adoptive families, and many other identities that are not listed here.

Asian and Asian American Studies courses at BMCC:

The Department of Ethnic and Race Studies offers a variety of courses in Asian and Asian American Studies (ASN), and is expanding course offerings in this area. Ethnic Studies courses  (ETH) also contain Asian and/or Asian American content.

ASN 111 Chinese Culture and History: This course introduces Chinese culture and history, taking into account changes of tradition and inheritance in social, political, economic, and philosophical aspects. Cultural activities from ancient to modern times will also be covered in the class. A brief history of China and its contact with the west will also be explored. Discussion of criticism about the past and present in China will be encouraged. Films, guest speakers, and field visits will be integral to the class. Flexible Core – World Cultures & Global Issues

ASN 114 Asian American History: The Asian American presence from the mid-nineteenth century to the present is studied. Three periods, 1848 to 1943, 1943 to 1965, and 1965 to the present are examined. Topics are designed to focus on the impact of historical processes on the cultural, economic and political experiences of diverse Asian American groups in urban and rural communities. The multi-ethnic aspects of Asian American communities are explored. Flexible Core – US Experience in its Diversity

ASN 211 Asian Americans in New York City: This class will examine the diverse Asian American communities that have populated New York City from the late 19th century to the present. The course will look at Asian populations and neighborhoods through topics such as racial segregation, ethnic economies and labor, global and transnational flows, gentrification, community institutions and inter-racial community relations. Flexible Core – US Experience in its Diversity

ASN 339 Asian American Literature: Representative works reflecting the collective experiences of Asian American writers are analyzed. Fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction written from Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian cultural perspectives are discussed.

ETH 100 Introduction to Ethnic Studies: The course examines the academic field of Ethnic Studies by raising questions about the ways that race and racism shape our experiences and world across a range of time and places. In an interdisciplinary approach, the course will introduce students to a variety of terms such as ethnicity, race, class, gender, ethnic stratification, etc. The course will also teach students a variety of methodological approaches to doing ethnic studies research and major issues in the field. It places an emphasis on relationships and conflicts between diverse groups, especially how they were treated and defined in relation to each other. Broadly speaking, this course is concerned with how these groups struggle to stake out their place in a highly unequal world.

ETH 125 Comparative Ethnic Studies: This course surveys the long history of cross-racial and inter-ethnic interactions among immigrants, migrants, people of color and working people in the United States and the wider world from the era of mercantile capitalism in the sixteenth century to the present. By making inroads into the dynamic worlds that indigenous people, people of African and Latin American descent, European Americans, and Asian Americans made and remade, the course aims to reach across borders of all kinds, including national boundaries, to cultivate global, transnational and comparative perspectives on race and ethnicity. Flexible Core – US Experience in its Diversity

For more information on Asian and Asian American Studies courses or Ethnic Studies courses, contact Dr. Linta Varghese ( or Dr. Soniya Munshi (

New York City’s Asian and Asian American Communities

Today, Asians are the fastest growing group in the United States. The specific Asian ethnic groups that have seen the most growth in the U.S. include the Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Nepalese, and Burmese, all of whom have developed substantial communities here in New York City. Statewide, between 2010 and 2020, the Asian American and Pacific Islander population increased by 37.6 percent, growing to over 2 million people and currently making up 10.8% of the population. 

There are 1.2 million API residents in New York City, making up 18% of the city population. 

All data is from A Demographic Snapshot: NYC’S Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Immigrant Population from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. 

  • Over 70% of Asian American New Yorkers are foreign born.
  • The Chinese immigrant population, the largest API ethnic group, accounts for approximately one half of the API immigrant population (418,000). API individuals who ethnically identify as Indians are the second largest group (152,000) comprising 18%. Korean (56,000), Filipino (54,000), and Bangladeshi (53,000) immigrants each comprise about 6% of the overall foreign-born total. 
  • The Bangladeshi community has seen the most growth of any API group in New York (a 94.7% change between 2010-2019).  
  • Two-thirds (66%) of API immigrants are essential workers compared to 57% of White immigrants. Bangladeshi immigrants have the highest share (82%) followed by Pakistani immigrants (75%). 
  • 13% of all API immigrants in NYC are undocumented, slightly lower than the share of NYC immigrants overall (16%). 
  • API and Hispanic immigrants have the highest poverty rates of all immigrant groups (24%). Within the API groups, there is wide disparity: Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants have the highest poverty rates (32% and 29% respectively) compared to Filipino (12%) and Japanese (14%) immigrants. 
  • 52% of API New Yorkers live in Queens.

Resources to learn more about New York City’s Asian and Asian American communities: