Mary Ann Key Book Club: Introducing Lindsay Peifer

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August 25, 2021

How to participate

The Mary Ann Key Book Club is intended to allow folks to participate in ways that match their time and interest. You can engage with the fall Mary Ann Key Book Club in several different ways:

  • Read the book. You can borrow or download one from the library.
  • Read the newsletter
  • Share your feedback, reflections, or questions with us.
  • Talk about the book with family, friends, neighbor, and colleagues.
  • Lead your own book discussion.
  • Join a virtual library program, dates coming soon.


Reflections from Myron Medcalf

Portrait of Myron Medcalf

How can readers support BIPOC communities if their racial or cultural identity or lived experiences are different?

"When he returned from Mecca in the 1960s, following his exile from the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X had changed. He told those close to him, through letters, that praying next to other Muslims of all ethnic backgrounds had encouraged him to consider a “spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

Malcolm’s transition, just before he was assassinated in 1965, demanded sacrifice. He had to leave his comfort zone to attain new experiences. I think the task is the same for all of us, but especially those who seek to understand and support BIPOC communities. Minor Feelings is a book about Cathy Park Hong’s experiences in this country. She is speaking about the steps BIPOC communities -- but specifically the AAPI community -- take just to be seen. It is a story. And every individual in a BIPOC community has their own tale. Are you listening?

The American temptation is to invite individuals who are not like us into the places where we are most content and comfortable. That is our “welcome.” It is often a self-serving act rather than a gesture of goodwill. But true support of those whose experiences may differ from our own requires humility and selflessness. To support me is to know me. To validate who I am. But I am also responsible for doing that with other communities, too. “Most Americans know nothing about Asian Americans,” Cathy Park Hong writes in “United,” the first chapter of the book. It is not my job to question that -- but to acknowledge her truth and ask myself if I am a member of the ignorant majority she cites. And if I am, then I must commit to not remaining there."

- Myron Medcalf


Guest contributor and fall panel event moderator

Portrait of Lindsay Peifer

Lindsay Peifer was an educator in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for 24 years. She earned her Bachelor of Applied Arts from the University of Minnesota Duluth to teach English in 1993, earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from St. Catherine University in 2010 and earned an Educational Specialist degree with a Principal license from Concordia University in 2020. She has been an active member of the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers, Education Minnesota, and a founding member of the Minnesota chapter of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). She recently joined the NEA team as staff working as a Senior Program/Policy Analyst/Specialist focusing on AAPI Outreach & Engagement in the Community Advocacy & Partnership Engagement (CAPE) department.


Message from Lindsay Peifer

"After the Atlanta shootings, I got a phone call from Myron Medcalf. We talked about the pain our communities were going through--from the murder of George Floyd to the increased anti-Asian hate crimes happening across the country and world. We talked about how the pandemic had intensified existing inequities and that there was so much to take in that it was hard to know where to begin, how to create spaces of healing, how to balance self-care with showing up for and with others. It felt like I’d met a kindred spirit in Myron. We kept talking--about history, culture, books we should read, actions we could take, how we could stand in solidarity.

When we started talking about Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong, I messaged him about how important this book was and though I was reading it for fun, I was also moved to highlight passages, write notes on post-it notes, to read it like it was required reading for a course I wasn’t teaching and yet living in real time. “This feels like it should be required reading,” I thought. This feels like a place to start having conservations that are grounded in the history of Asian Americans who have long been deemed invisible, been othered, seen as the perpetual foreigner in the United States. I cannot count the number of times that I have been asked, "Where are you from?" and when I answer, "Minnesota," or "St. Paul," they say, "No, really, where are you from?" I also know that if you are ethnic and reading this, you are shaking your head because this has happened countless times to you, too.

When we talk about systemic racism embedded into laws, policies, and practices, we see how this continued othering is allowed to continue and is supported through micro and macro aggressions, lack of representation, and so many other ways that have been normalized that it is hard for people to see it, name it, acknowledge it. When Park Hong writes on page 9, “For as long as I could remember, I have struggled to prove myself into existence,” I stopped reading and just sat with that sentence. How many of us have struggled to prove ourselves into existence--to be seen, to be valued, to be recognized in our full humanness?

I am thrilled that Hennepin County Library’s Mary Ann Key Book Club has chosen Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning to be their fall book club book and I look forward to the discussions we will have about it. I hope you find it as engaging, compelling, and healing as I did. I hope we can use this to create transformational action. I hope this book brings the AAPI experience into our collective societal consciousness. I hope you, too, will be part of this discussion."

- Lindsay Peifer


Share your feedback and questions

Tell us your thoughts as you read Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. Share your feedback, reflections or questions. Responses and questions may be shared with Myron Medcalf and library staff, and quotes may be shared with readers through our newsletter.


Upcoming programs

We are finalizing plans for fall events. More details will be shared in our next newsletter.  

Questions about the Mary Ann Key Book Club? Email


Thank you, Friends.

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The Mary Ann Key Book Club receives generous financial support from Friends of the Hennepin County Library. You can help expand access to more books, programs and resources, by supporting your library today. GIVE NOW


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The Star Tribune is a valued partner of the Mary Ann Key Book Club. Mr. Medcalf is leveraging his column to further engage our community on the truths of the past, our challenges in the present, and the possibilities of the future.

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