Hello! Last time, I mentioned Cathy Park Hong’s book Minor Feelings but didn’t get a chance to review it. Now, I am.
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning,
by Cathy Park Hong
“Minor feelings occur when American optimism is enforced upon you, which contradicts your own racialized reality, thereby creating a static of cognitive dissonance. You are told, ‘Things are so much better,’ while you think, Things are the same. You are told, ‘Asian Americans are so successful,’ while you feel like a failure. This optimism sets up false expectations that increase these feelings of dysphoria. A 2017 study found that the ideology of America as a fair meritocracy led to more self-doubt and behavioral problems among low-income black and brown sixth graders because, as one teacher said, ‘they blame themselves for problems they can’t control.'”
Minor Feelings is a series of essays written about the Asian American experience. It’s very insightful, though in my opinion, the essays near the beginning were more insightful than the essays near the end (though there were some near the end that were just as insightful).
Hong really gets at the existence of “minor feelings”—feelings that come about when your reality is challenged so many times that you start doubting yourself, and start feeling paranoid, unhappy, and anxious. Then you have to suppress those feelings because they don’t fit the white paradigm, and if you finally do express them, they tend to be perceived as challenging and difficult, even though they’re just the truth.
This book was written with a great amount of hope, anger, and compassion. It’s a terrific read. No matter who you are, it will make you think deeply, and I definitely recommend it.
Until next week!