a word, please.

a word is just a word.

is just a word.

is just a word.

is --

not just a word.

not once it’s been heard.

it becomes a belief.

a reason for someone’s grief,

fear, confusion

causes actions:

a sign on a restaurant window:

“Chinese not welcome here.”

a slur on a car door:

“f---ing chink. go home. disappear.”

a clenched fist meets her back, her arms,

her face.

get out of our United States.

her face.

her face.



a face coughed on.

spit on.

kicked on.

disinfectant, sprayed on.

acid, splashed on.

knife, slashed on.

no, no -- you’re right.

you weren’t holding that knife.

how could you have known?

how could you possibly know

what a word could do,

unless it was said

about you?

how could you know

that negative comments

about people of Asian descent

increased one hundred sixty-seven per cent

a week after a word was said.

now, it’s too late to take it back.

now, we’re just barely keeping track

of over a thousand reports

of discrimination.

and counting.

and that’s just counting

the ones that were reported.

what about the ones that were left unsaid?

how many thought,

this can’t be happening.

and if it is,

should i even say anything?

i’m just grateful to be here.

so what actually happened?

how could you know?

how could you know

what it feels like

to call your parents,

not just to talk,

not to ask them,

hey, how was your walk?

but to ask them -- please,

don’t go outside.

there’s something happening


Mom, cover up.

not just your nose, your mouth,

but your eyes.

your hair.

your voice.



everything about yourself.

don’t let them see you.

don’t let them recognize you.

this virus does not discriminate.

people do.

but hey.

it’s just a word, right?

how could you know

what a word could do,

unless it was said

about you?


you were me.




call it Covid-19.

what will you say

when you can’t say

you didn’t know?


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