Cathy Park Hong

American writer

Cathy Park Hong (born August 7, 1976) is an American poet, writer, and professor who has published three volumes of poetry. Much of her work includes mixed language and serialized narrative. She was named on the 2021 Time 100 list for her writings and advocacy for Asian American women.

Cathy Park Hong


Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (2020)Edit

  • Patiently educating a clueless white person about race is draining. It takes all your powers of persuasion. Because it’s more than a chat about race. It’s ontological. It’s like explaining to a person why you exist, or why you feel pain, or why your reality is distinct from their reality. Except it’s even trickier than that. Because the person has all of Western history, politics, literature, and mass culture on their side, proving that you don’t exist.
  • One characteristic of racism is that children are treated like adults and adults are treated like children. Watching a parent being debased like a child is the deepest shame. I cannot count the number of times I have seen my parents condescended to or mocked by white adults. This was so customary that when my mother had any encounter with a white adult, I was always hypervigilant, ready to mediate or pull her away. To grow up Asian in America is to witness the humiliation of authority figures like your parents and to learn not to depend on them: they cannot protect you.
  • When I hear the phrase “Asians are next in line to be white,” I replace the word “white” with “disappear.” Asians are next in line to disappear.
  • By not speaking up, we perpetuate the myth that our shame is caused by our repressive culture and the country we fled, whereas America has given us nothing but opportunity. The lie that Asians have it good is so insidious that even now as I write, I’m shadowed by doubt that I didn’t have it bad compared to others. but racial trauma is not a competitive sport. The problem is not that my childhood was exceptionally traumatic but that it was in fact rather typical. Most white Americans can only understand racial trauma as a spectacle.
  • Innocence is both a privilege and a cognitive handicap, a sheltered unknowingness that, once protracted into adulthood, hardens into entitlement.
  • Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But in reality, this is the most economically divided group in the country, a tenuous alliance of people with roots from South Asia to East Asia to the Pacific Islands, from tech millionaires to service industry laborers. How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition—if such a thing exists?
  • The most damaging legacy of the West has been its power to decide who our enemies are, turning us not only against our own people, like North and South Korea, but turning me against myself.
  • My term “minor feelings” is deeply indebted to theorist Sianne Ngai, who wrote extensively on the affective qualities of ugly feelings, negative emotions—like envy, irritation, and boredom—symptomatic of today’s late-capitalist gig economy.
  • 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.
  • I’d rather be indebted than be the kind of white man who thinks the world owes him, because to live an ethical life is to be held accountable to history.
  • Racial self-hatred is seeing yourself the way the whites see you, which turns you into your own worst
  • The problem with silence is that it can’t speak up and say why it’s silent. And so silence collects, becomes amplified, takes on a life outside our intentions, in that silence can get misread as indifference, or avoidance, or even shame, and eventually this silence passes over into forgetting.
  • To other English is to make audible the imperial power sewn into the language, to slit English open so its dark histories slide out.
  • Nothing gets dated faster than a joke.
  • minor feelings: the racialized range of emotions that are negative, dysphoric, and therefore untelegenic, built from the sediments of everyday racial experience and the irritant of having one’s perception of reality constantly questioned or dismissed.

Interview with The Guardian (2020)Edit

  • Anti-Asian racism has come roaring back with the coronavirus scare,” says Korean American writer Cathy Park Hong. “People don’t think Asians face racism, but it’s always lurking under the surface.
  • Asians are hyper invisible. We’re not even included in racial breakdowns in polls. We’re always listed as ‘other’, if we’re listed at all...It almost feels like we’re not publicly participating in this country.
  • The way Richard Pryor talked about race was so brutally honest and funny and unvarnished. It made me think that I had never encountered Asian identity being written in that way.
  • It’s one of the best benefits of growing up bilingual, right? You realise that meaning is slippery.
  • Maybe what I’m responding to is how white America has flattened our experience to a single story, how they perceive us as one kind. The book is an attempt to overthrow that.

Quotes about Cathy Park HongEdit

  • When I read Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, it felt like I was being shaken awake to something I had convinced myself wasn’t real. The subtle ways Asian Americans are dismissed; how Asian American women feel the need to apologize when taking up any sort of space. I was also floored by how she described the ripple effect of the Chinese Exclusion Act: how that fear of not wanting to stick out has been passed down through generations, and how this survival tactic limits us and can cause self-hate. And at the same time, Cathy shares stories that feel so personal, so fresh and so specific, nobody else could’ve written them. I had never read a depiction of three contemporary, young Asian American women that was so complicated, interesting or full of both love and conflict. Her writing is beautiful, funny, sharp and—most importantly to a working mother of two who has few brain cells left at the end of the day—easy to read. I annotated the hell out of Minor Feelings—it’s the kind of book you want to dog-ear and underline. Reading it was such a crazy feeling: I felt so seen that I couldn’t believe that this book existed. And it’s become even more painfully relevant in a year in which anti-Asian violence, which has always existed in America, has spiked so aggressively, putting our communities on high alert and searching for solidarity. This is the book to read when you ask me, “How can I be an ally?” This is the book to read if you want to educate yourself. This is the book to read if you want to be more in touch with your humanity.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: