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Family Next Door

Family Next Door
a spoken word poem by Ashley Lee

A spoken word poem. Watch the full performance here.

In Korean, the word “이웃”

holds a deeper meaning than just “neighbor.”

옛날 한국 사람들은 이웃들과 가족같이 친했습니다

Years ago our ancestors and their neighbors were one,

becoming family,

related not through blood

but being


We cared for one another

rejoicing and crying


But recently, we’ve been far too busy to focus on our neighbors.

Occupied with school, work,

social media, our own desires—

whatever it is that distracts us

from the burdens our neighbors carry.

The same burden

Amadou Diallo carried.

An immigrant, he came from Guinea,

seeking to start a new business, a new life, but instead

he found bullets

41 bullets hailed down from police in his own home.

Trayvon Martin carried

a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles.

He was only seventeen

when he was followed back home

shot and killed by a man

who claimed he was just “protecting his neighbors”.

The same burden Sean Bell carried

just hours before his wedding,

officers fired 50 bullets,

struck his neck,

cutting off all circulation.

He had to fight just to breathe, to live, to

breathe and

George Floyd couldn’t breathe.

For eight minutes and forty six seconds, he was pinned down to the ground,

pleading for his mother

Ten times too many he said,




It is so easy to turn away,

to ignore the violence, oppression, abuse, racism, and injustice

that’s happening right next door.

This is the time to rise up.

This is the time when our society, our neighbors,

우리 이웃들,

our family

need us most.

So stop ignoring. Stop turning a blind eye to

Breonna Taylor, to

Sandra Bland,

Aiyana Jones,

Oscar Grant,

Eric Garner,

Oluwatoyin Salau,

John Crawford—

the list of names goes on and on.

And start listening to the Black community.

Care, take action, fight for justice—

we will fight for justice.

And we will not stop until we are done.

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