Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

July 11, 20222 min read

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Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings is a seminal essay in bringing to the light the experience of Asian Americans, and by extension Asian diaspora who live all throughout the world. This is a great introductory read to familiarise oneself with racial politics, since it is spiked with personal experiences and anecdotes. 

Minor Feelings are “the racialised range of emotions that are negative, dysphoric, and therefore untelegenic”. Instances of this can be when, upon hearing a slight, knowing it’s racial, and being told, Oh, that’s all in your head. After one’s reality has been belittled so many times, one begins to doubt their very own senses.  

I resonated a lot with certain passages, such as 

I always pretended like I wasn’t the only Asian woman in the room, which, for me, feighted the air with tension as if my body were the setup to a joke that never became defused by a punchline. But why not defuse it? If there was this expectation that I should write about my Asian identity, why not say out loud that I was the only Asian in the room?

Who let in all the Asians?  you rant in your head. Instead of solidarit , you feel that you are less than around other Asians, the boundaries of yourself no longer distinct but congealed into a horde.

Among critiques on Capitalism, and it’s colonial and imperial past, we see Hong’s literary analysis of Persons of Colour (POC) which I found fascinating

In many Asian American novels, writers set trauma in a distant mother country or within an insular Asian family to ensure that their pain is not a reproof against American imperial geopolitics or domestic racism; the outlying forces that cause their pain – Asian Patriarchal Fathers, White People Back Then – are remote enough to allow everyone, including the reader, off the hook. 

Overall I found this fantastic read.

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Apurva Shukla

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