To Those Whose Fear Is Crystallizing Into Xenophobia

By Cassie Chee (she/her/hers)

October 30, 2020

To the woman on aisle 7
Whose fear is crystalizing into xenophobia… Don’t play yourself.

This mask is a prayer for thriving
Stitched with a knowing that our health is connected.

It hides my smile, full of pity
Because you probably need us more than you know.

When we came to this country
We didn’t take off our shoes because we were reminded that this isn’t quite our home.

You colored us with peril and made us believe That if we just washed our hands enough Our skin might turn white as snow.

So we compulsively cleaned because God forbid our yellowed stain

Rotted into brownness Or in nightmares, Black.

According to the boy next door (who was always so well read!)
“If washing your hands is not keeping you well you probably are not trying hard enough. Work harder.
You are more likely to be the disease if you have any or all of the following:
Skin that goldens and glows in the sun,
Eyes hooded with wisdom or curved in gentle waves,
Hair dark and rich as coffee.”

So some of us believed it
And continue to believe
That if we all just worked harder no one would be sick..

However, some of us became close with those who danced in our nightmares. We were humbled to learn that black is beautiful
And our nightmares were just dreams that this country had starved.

When we listened to the wisdom of blackness she told us that our bodies are not born sick But are infected by the system that tells us we are.

Together we found the ways that we can all still get fed if we share what we have; That when we remember who we are, we remember we are connected; That we can not be well until we are all well.

So to you whose fear is crystalizing into xenophobia Soften, and trust the wisdom in your fear.

Anxiety twists your fear to make you believe that I am the disease.

To hide what your fear has really been telling you all along:
The real crisis is that we allow our diseased system to kill us all slowly
As we force the so called “essential” parts of ourselves to feed the ease of life that we have the illusion of living.

When you have no answers, embrace the ambiguity.

When you feel that the world is suddenly in chaos,
Breath deeply because you are probably coming closer to reality than you ever have before.

When you feel the heaviness of loss, Invite grief and let it transform you.

And when your fear that has begun to sharpen to xenophobia softens, Be quiet and listen:

And we might tell you

This mask is a prayer for thriving:

A prayer that we will accept our need for one another, circulate life through all our connections,
And continue to find joy and life even in the constant reminders that this doesn’t quite feel like home.