LETTERS: Two responses to racism

Dear Editor,

“Everyman is me.
I am his brother. No man is
my enemy. I am everyman
and he is in and of me.

This is my faith,
my strength, my deepest hope
and my only belief.”
— Kenneth Patchen, American poet and novelist (1911-1972)

Been thinking lots. Especially about how I might handle an incident that my daughter, Miya, encountered over the weekend. While waiting to pay for her groceries at a Seattle grocery store, she overheard two customers and the clerk chatting in agreement that they hoped the virus “attacks all Chinese people because they’re the ones who created this mess.” As a counselor and social worker, Miya had two reactions: to say something positive or say nothing. She did both. She looked directly into the eyes of one man and smiled.

This morning, Kenneth Patchen’s poem resurfaced in my thoughts. Though I wouldn’t quote the poem word for word, instead I might look the person(s) in the eyes (at a 6-foot distance) and say something like this:

I am not your enemy.
Can you see yourself in me?
We are equal.
My deepest hope is that soon this guides you, too.

Jane Muramoto Yung
San Francisco

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