Ackerman’s Community Book Club selection for May is Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong. Hong is a Korean American poet and and writer. She has three poetry collections, published prior to Minor Feelings. She is the poetry editor of the New Republic and a professor at Rutgers-Newark University.
Minor Feelings is a collection of essays where Hong explores the experience of Asian Americanness, including growing up as a child of Korean immigrants, as well the exploration of her identity, family and friendship with vulnerability and humor. Hong also skillfully shares her perspective of navigating racism, gender, power, and oppression in America and bringing forth the historical context of what is has meant to be Asian in the US.
In popular imagination, Asian Americans inhabit a vague purgatorial status: not white enough nor black enough; distrusted by African Americans, ignored by whites, unless we’re being used by whites to keep the black man down. We are the carpenter ants of the services industry, the apparatchiks of the corporate world. We are math-crunching middle manages who keep the cooperate wheels greased but who never get promoted since we don’t have the right “face” for leadership. … ut while I may look impassive, I am frantically paddling my feet underwater, always overcompensating to hide my devouring feelings of inadequacy.—Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
As family therapists, the desire to be seen and truly known is echoed across identity makers and social locations. Minor Feelings highlights Hong’s understanding of what it means to be Asian American, aspects of which may be unknown or invisible for some family therapists. This reading challenges therapists to feel the edges of their understanding and empathy and to question if they are curious about this experience, while not viewing Asianness as a monolith.
Book club selection and description written by Cheryl Ching, LCSW
Above Image of Cathy Park Hong by Beowulf Sheehan
About Ackerman’s Community Book Club:
Ackerman’s Community Book Club is a monthly series of reading recommendations curated by our family therapy instructors. We invite you to read one book each month that explores diversity, equity, and inclusion and join us on a pathway to curiosity. The books on our list have been selected with the aim of increasing knowledge, empathy, willingness, and skill to confront xenophobia as therapists, educators, and lifelong learners, in the personal and professional spaces we occupy.