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Self Evident: Asian America's Stories

May 18, 2022

When Augustine Tang’s father passed away, Augustine decided to inherit his taxi medallion – the license that had allowed his father to drive a yellow taxi cab in New York City for decades. But the medallion came with a $530,000 debt trap and years of struggling to escape it. Augustine’s friend Kenny, a fellow taxi cab driver, committed suicide. So did several other drivers who were crushed under the weight of these impossible debts. In hopes of preventing another death, Tang joined a push by the local taxi drivers’ union, to campaign for debt relief. And eventually, city resistance to worker demands culminated in a 15-day hunger strike to convince City Hall that immigrant taxi drivers deserved a fair deal. The drivers’ struggles for livable working conditions showed how political power doesn’t just come down to votes. It’s a reminder how strong collective will can be, especially for those often silenced and ignored by our imperfect democracy.

Resources and Reading

Special Thanks To

Augustine Tang, Jaslin Kaur, John Duda, Kader Guerrab, Kuber Sancho-Persad, Maria Santana, Maximillian Alvarez, Michelle Faust Raghavan and Alec Saleens, and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance Media Team


  • Produced by Self Evident Media

  • Reported by Sahil Nisha, with help from Alina Panek and Janrey Serapio

  • Interview recordings by Sahil Nisha, Stacey Wong, and James Boo

  • Public protest and demonstration recordings by NYTWA, Augustine Tang, CM Zohran Mamdani, and Former CM Brad Lander

  • Edited by James Boo and Julia Shu

  • Fact checked by Harsha Nahata and Tiffany Bui

  • Sound mix by Timothy Lou Ly

  • Music by Epidemic Sound

  • At the Moment theme music by Satoru Ohno

  • Our Executive Producer is Ken Ikeda

  • This episode was made with support from the Solutions Journalism Network’s Advancing Democracy program