AACRAO's member led book club meets monthly, choosing a content piece (novel, short story, graphic novel, etc.) to read over the course of the month, culminating in a one hour long discussion of thoughts, takeaways, and questions at the end.
May's selection was Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, by Cathy Park Hong. Our hosts shared a bit of their thoughts around the discussion.
I joined AACRAO in 2020. In addition to attending the Annual Meeting, I was looking for ways to get involved in the organization when I came across the book club and noticed that members could submit suggestions. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning was the best book that I read in 2020.
One of the chapters on racialized innocence was informed by a book that was important to me when I wrote my dissertation. The chapters about stand-up comedy and using Bad English in poetry highlighted the significance of live performance and art forms that resist the disappearance of minoritized people. And Cathy Park Hong drives home how institutions of education have played a big role in shaping Asian American identity. I could not think of a book that was more important for professionals in Admissions and Registrar officers to tackle. Increasing awareness of hate crimes in the United States directed towards Asian Americans only made the discussion more significant.
It was wonderful to work with AACRAO to host the book club. If you have any interest in hosting a similar event, I would highly recommend submitting a suggested reading for a future book club.
Michelle T. Weller:
When Allan reached out with the book recommendation I was excited to start reading! I found Cathy Park Hong’s book both inspiring and introspective. Allan, Su, Fahduma and I met several times before the official book club meeting, and I found that the discussions forced me to deal with some internal struggles. The book club allowed me to make space for the discussions that I had suppressed. Unfortunately due to health limitations, I was unable to make the final book club session, but I am deeply moved by each of the preceding conversations.
As an AAPI advocate, I remind others that the term is not meant to conflate or flatten the identity, but to unite the diverse perspectives and to have a common platform for social change. Similarly, while Cathy Park Hong’s experiences did resonate with some of my own, we do not expect that they represent the entire population.
I’m thankful that my friend Su Choe was able to join the conversation and offer her perspective as a community organizer for the Asian American Advocacy Fund. As higher education professionals, we have immense power to advocate for our students, our faculty, and for ourselves and fellow staff members. I hope that we can use our power, in partnership with organizations like AAAF and AACRAO, to continue to take up space and make change. Nobody else will do it for us.