This book broke me in ways I hadn’t expected. Poets have a tendency to do this. I can’t help but enter their world on tiptoes as I dance around their words p, only to eventually collide with a fragile moment that shakes me awake from my complicity in upholding the systems that be. Minor Feelings is no exception and remains one of the most challenging books I’ve encountered to this day.
Minor Feelings is a powerful memoir that offers a unique perspective on the experiences of people of color in America. The author, Cathy Park Hong, is a Korean American poet and writer who has lived her life at the intersection of race, class, and culture in America. Through her personal stories, Hong challenges the reader to confront the ways in which we all contribute to the perpetuation of oppressive systems of power and the impact that these systems have on people of color.
What sets Minor Feelings apart from other books on race and identity is the way in which it invites the reader to experience their own complicity in upholding harmful ideologies. Hong does not simply present a laundry list of injustices or a call to action; rather, she invites the reader to engage with their own thoughts and feelings and to recognize the ways in which they may be contributing to these systems of power.
This is a challenging but necessary task, as it requires the reader to confront uncomfortable truths about themselves and their society. However, it is also deeply humane and full of heart. Hong’s writing is poetic and evocative, and she shares her stories with an honesty and vulnerability that is both relatable and revelatory. She writes about her experiences growing up as a Korean American in a predominantly white neighborhood, of feeling like an outsider in her own skin, of experiencing microaggressions and racism, and of struggling to find her place in a world that often seems hostile to people of color.
Throughout the book, Hong also explores the impact that these experiences have had on her mental health and emotional well-being. She writes about the way that racial trauma can manifest in physical symptoms and how the experiences of people of color are often overlooked or invalidated by the medical establishment.
One of the most compelling aspects of Minor Feelings is Hong’s willingness to grapple with the complexity of her own experiences and emotions. She acknowledges the ways in which she has internalized harmful messages about herself and her community, even as she fights against them. She also recognizes that her experiences as a Korean American are not representative of the experiences of all people of color, and that there are nuances and differences within communities of color that are often overlooked in discussions of race.
In addition to her personal stories, Hong also examines the cultural and historical factors that have contributed to the marginalization of people of color in America. She writes about the myth of the model minority and the ways in which it has been used to pit different communities of color against each other. She also discusses the history of Asian Americans in America and the ways in which their experiences have been erased or overlooked in mainstream narratives of American history.
This is a powerful and necessary book that challenges readers to confront uncomfortable truths about themselves and their society. It is a reminder that the fight for justice and equality is ongoing, and that there is much work to be done in order to create a more just and equitable world. But it is also a testament to the resilience and strength of people of color in America, and a celebration of the power of storytelling and empathy to bring about change. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding more about the experiences of people of color in America, and in working towards a more just and equitable society.
Minor Feelings is an important book for anyone who hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of people of color in America. It is a call to action, a challenge to confront our own complicity in perpetuating harmful ideologies, and a testament to the power of empathy and compassion in the face of oppression. By reading this book, the reader is invited to reclaim their humanity and to work towards creating a more just and equitable society for all.
I’d love your thoughts. Have your ready Hong’s Memoir? How did it make you feel? Let me know in the comments below.
Here are some additional reading recommendations from Asian American and Asian authors that explore issues of identity, race, and culture:
- The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
- Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
- The Leavers by Lisa Ko
- The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
- America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
- I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita
- No-No Boy by John Okada
These books offer diverse perspectives and insights into the experiences of Asian Americans and Asians, and are valuable additions to anyone’s reading list
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