1-Sentence-Summary: Minor Feelings explores the purgatory state that Asian-Americans are stuck into as immigrants who have an image of non-white and non-black people who don’t speak, disturb, or make any impression at all.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Asian-Americans are a part of our society that no one knows much about, and not many consider them when they think of ethnic groups. The author, Cathy Park Hong, starts Minor Feelings with the premise that Asians are an ignored social category often carrying their lives in the shadows of other major ethnic groups.
Although ignorance can sometimes prove to be a good thing, too much of it can be a blessing in disguise. Living in the shadows of other ethnic groups in the USA, Asians grow up with a lack of presence making it difficult for them to create a strong impression.
From their daily activities related to their careers and their personal lives, Asians feel their race stands in the way of a fulfilling existence.
Here are the three most comprehensive lessons from the book that can help us better understand their experience:
- The author experienced negative emotions caused by her race that build up daily.
- Even today’s culture in the USA promotes, perhaps unwillingly, the outsider status of Asians.
- Hong found peace in English literature and art.
Now, let’s explore these lessons in detail and find out what it truly means to be an Asian American living between foreign faces and racial prejudice.
Lesson 1: Self-doubt and negative talk that emerge from your racial identity must stop.
The author always felt as if she had to behave, feel, and speak in a certain way because she was an Asian-American. These unsettling feelings weren’t something that she could put her finger on, yet they were there. Before she realized that there is nothing wrong with her identity, she was in depression.
She categorized her negative emotions and feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, and frustration as minor feelings, and never really considered them essential. When she was in a poor state of mind, she stumbled upon Richard Pryor, a black comedian who rose to fame by emphasizing racial discrepancies.
Finally, someone was saying what she was thinking out loud. However, even Pryor was talking about the differences between black and white people, never the Asians. To her and her community, they were still non-existent. When they did get a place in the spotlight, it was always accompanied by a negative event.
Her childhood was marked by feelings of shame and a constant struggle to fit in. At school, she was bullied. In society, she was feeling excluded, and so was her family. The people she looked up to and expected protection from were as vulnerable as she was. Growing up, childhood left a negative mark on her.
Lesson 2: Even today, Asian Americans face a strong sense of non-belongingness.
The United States is, at its core, a place for all individuals to live freely and engage in acts that serve their souls in a way that does not harm those around them. The theory sounds simple and it sparks emotion in everyone, but the practice beats us to it.
She recollects one particular memory of a Korean man who shot an American girl, which caused people to protest against all Asian and even publicly harm them. Luckily, she lived in a good neighborhood where she felt safer, but her fellow friends weren’t as lucky then.
Another recollection of hers dates back to 2018, when Lorraine O’Grady, an artist, said that white people wouldn’t be needed in the future anymore, as white supremacy will dominate. Once again, the black and the white community was highlighted, but never the Asian one.
Lesson 3: Art, a group of girlfriends, and English literature are what gave Hong peace of mind.
Hong was looking for ways to fit in and discover that sense of belonging during her teen years. She knew English was a weak spot for Asians in general, and that people would mock her even more for her poor vocabulary, so she picked up English literature.
In time, she found that poetry developed into a real passion, and so did art. She found a group of two friends that shared similar experiences in their background and loved art and poetry. Together, they were invincible, and they would understand each other better than anyone else.
The girls spent a lot of time reading, crafting, and enjoying each other’s company, when all of a sudden their friendship fell apart. Hong felt as if one of them was stealing her poetry and so, she cut off ties with her. Still, literature remained part of her identity and helped her discover a refugee where she could be safe and at peace.
Minor Feelings Review
Minor Feelings is a book about racial injustice, the progressive state of the USA, and the Asian ethnic group finding itself in a state of non-belongingness even today.
While the spotlight always falls on white and black people, the orientals remain silent while maintaining an overall submissive and indifferent impression in the public eye.
For the author, this state of affairs had deeply affected her childhood and adult life, making her realize that she can either keep living in the shadows or form a voice that could speak up for her people.
Who would I recommend the Minor Feelings summary to?
The 27-year-old Asian American woman who wants to build a voice and feel heard, the 30-year-old person who wants to learn how to deal with racism, or the 40-year-old person who likes to educate themselves on racial biases, different ethnic groups, and the history of multiculturalism in the USA.
Last Updated on October 6, 2022