Week 6: Lemon cookies and "Minor Feelings"
WHY THIS BOOK
In 2020 Vancouver BC my home was called the anti-asian hate crime capital in North America. With 1 out of 2 asian descendants reporting a hate crime.*
Cathy Park Hong takes the time to provide personal stories from her early 20s in university to today in her 40s stating how she started thinking about writing this book because of her daughter.
The book title came from theorist Sianne Ngai who wrote extensively about negative emotions, and how minor feelings are "non-cathartic states of emotion." Another example is when she is told that "Things are so much better here" and "Asians are so successful," when she feels like a failure.
In the chapter called “The end of white innocence” she shares how there was a lot of shame in her life. She also provides an example of living in the USA and not realizing the cultural nuances. Cathy was in grade 4 when she went to school wearing a red shirt with a white silhouette of a bunny. During school a student came up to her to ask "do you know what that means?" The author said no and saw the student smirk and walk away. Cathy is filled with shame and doesn’t know why. It was a playboy bunny shirt. This is common for immigrant children to be made fun of over something that is beyond them.
I discussed this book with my partner Alex who is Filipino and he shared how he was told to always be good and don’t cause a scene. These comments stick with us and start to affect our identity as "the good asian student."
This book is raw and real and I am grateful for the author to share her experience with the world.
*Vancouver Is the Anti-Asian Hate Crime Capital of North America (bloomberg.com)