Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is the host of Be Antiracist. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University and the founding director of the BU…
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Cathy Park Hong is a Korean American poet, writer, professor, and the poetry editor at The New Republic. Her recent book, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography in 2021.
Hong and Dr. Kendi have a deep discussion about the uniquely Asian American experience of living at the intersection of racist vilification and the stereotype of the “model minority.”
For a transcript of this episode, click here.
QUESTIONS TO INSPIRE DIALOGUE
- Dr. Kendi and Cathy Park Hong both describe having learned about Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama after seeing a photograph of her cradling Malcolm X’s head after his assassination. How informed do you feel about the long history of solidarity between Asian American and Black activists? How do you think the “model minority” myth has shielded people from learning about the significant bond between these communities?
- Cathy Park Hong says that while the term “Asian American” encompasses an entire continent of people, she encourages people within her community to think of it less as an abstract label and more as an oppositional identity for coalition building. What do you think of the term Asian American? Is it too constraining? How can it be used as a unifying concept?
- Dr. Kendi and Cathy Park Hong discussed critical race theory and how recently conservatives have been describing it as anti-Asian. Hong says it’s an example of how Asian Americans are “yet again being used as a wedge.” What do you think she means by that statement? Can you think of another example where the Asian American community has been pitted against the Black community to support conservative talking points? What is lost in the critical race theory conversation if people only see it as a Black/white issue?
- Cathy Park Hong and Dr. Kendi agreed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that passed earlier this year “didn’t do enough.” How familiar are you with this piece of legislation? Do you think it does enough to combat hate crimes in the United States? If not, what kind of legislation would you like to see? What would it, and wouldn’t it, include?
- While discussing the future of BIPOC in conservative politics, Cathy Park Hong referenced artist Lorraine O’Grady’s quote, “In the future, white supremacy will no longer need white people.” What do you make of that statement? How does that make you feel knowing that by 2060 minorities will become the majority in the United States? Hong says she feels a sense of responsibility to identify the reproduction of white supremacisty ideas within the Asian American community. How are you doing that within your community?
- Cathy Park Hong describes being moved by an effort in 2020 where younger Asian Americans were writing letters to their parents and grandparents to provide context and a window of understanding regarding the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matters and the demonstrations across the country. What other ways can you think of to open and engage in productive, illuminating conversations with family members and friends whose lenses differ from yours?
FURTHER READING + RESOURCES
- Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
- The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origin of the Model Minority by Ellen D. Wu
- Interior Chinatown: A Novel by Charles Yu
- Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
- Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America by Vivek Bald
- The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race by Anthony Christian Ocampo
- Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity by Vijay Prashad
- The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World by Vijay Prashad
- Tastes Like War: A Memoir by Grace M. Cho
- The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston
- Curb by Divya Victor
- When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen
- Registers of Illuminated Villages: Poems Paperback by Tarfia Faizullah
- A Nail the Evening Hangs On by Monica Sok
- The Last Thing: New & Selected Poems by Patrick Rosal
- Soft Science by Franny Choi
- Podcast: Time to Say Goodbye
- Podcast: Asian Enough
- Podcast: Long Distance
- Podcast: They Call Us Bruce
- Podcast: AAWW Radio: New Asian American Writers & Literature
ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT