Hello there. Here's the MINOR FEELINGS podcast on Spotify and the Substack newsletter in case you want to get started already. But here's an introduction.
Over the pandemic, I discovered this fantastic collection of essays. It’s called Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong.
The term 'Minor Feelings' is rooted in, as Hong says, the work of theorist Sianne Ngai, who wrote extensively on what is generally considered “ugly” feelings, negative emotions like envy, irritation, and boredom. Like ugly feelings, minor feelings are “non-cathartic states of emotion” with “a remarkable capacity for duration,” she says.
I’ve also been exploring this concept called learned racism in relation to psychology and psychiatry. Dr. Michael Moskowitz, an excellent psychoanalyst who deals with race issues, and I had an important conversation about this, and how it plays an essential role in therapy that aims to be culturally sensitive. It is essentially colonial and racism hangovers passed over generations and perpetuated almost unconsciously by the marginalized towards the marginalized.
This could be in schoolyards, institutions, bodegas, parties, and we don’t necessarily have a neat, compact explanation for why it happens. I’ve been looking at West Indian/Indo-Caribbean and West African/African-Caribbean communities in Queens, New York, for example, and a lot of their rifts have to do with their colonial histories of migration, insecurity around belongingness among other POC communities, and a need to be part of something bigger than the stereotypes they’re associated with.
It’s again, not as simple.
I’d like to look at Minor Feelings to shine a light on, as Ngai says, the “ugly feelings” and the “ugly” realities that lie behind them, but I’d also like to talk about healing and hope - confronting and addressing anti-blackness, for example.
I'll be in conversation with everyone from a Black psychoanalyst from the Financial District, a school counselor in Providence, MA, a community leader in Richmond Hill, or even a health worker from my home city, Chennai, India.
All these will revolve around the themes in the newsletter, and this conversation will also come with a fair amount of reported context as introductions. On some issues, I will publish and am very open to personal pieces on the same. I’ll put out a call for that very soon. See you on Substack and Spotify!