The Minor Feelings author talks about stereotypes in the wake of the coronavirus and being inspired by Richard Pryor.
When the state of New York received its first confirmed coronavirus patient, both the New York Times and the New York Post published articles with accompanying pictures of East Asian people, even though the diagnosed woman in the news report had recently travelled to Iran.
“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. For instance, my friend is worried for his kids. He lives in New York City, and he has a son in school who has been bullied and made fun of for having the coronavirus. There’s this yellow peril stereotype that never goes away.”
Minor Feelings, Hong’s collection of essays, explores how society’s perception of Asian American identity shapes the experience of being an Asian American. Growing up in Los Angeles, Hong was reminded almost daily that how white America viewed her community clashed with her own experiences.