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Meet Lyrical Opposition's Program Director: Lacy Nguyen

Meet Lyrical Opposition's Program Director: Lacy Nguyen

Lyrical Opposition program director Lacy Nguyen is using her poetry and spoken word art to bring medicine to the souls of people in marginalized communities. Lacy is hugely active in the spaces of social injustice and racial inequality, drawing on her experience as an Asian American in her work leading LO’s Lyrical Assembly initiative. Lacy first got into poetry while she was at college. She used poetry to help her process some of the trauma she was going through and ended up finishing second in a poetry slam in Seattle, where she’s from. “I realized, this is a tool that I can use to process a lot of trauma and almost write my story into existence. With Asian women, we don't have a lot of media representation, so I started taking creative writing classes and got into poetry even more.” Lacy was largely raised by her single mother, which she believes fuelled her passion for being an advocate for others. A key focus for her is reinstating traditional Asian values and practices. “If you hear stories of our parents in neighborhoods in Vietnam, it was a communal sense of collectivism. In the village, people take care of each other,” she says. “But that’s been replaced by a cutthroat attitude of mistrust, which is a result of capitalism and American systems of success. “In my own journey, I've had to learn about those things. I'm trying to have a worldview where I come back to that sense of taking care of my village.” Lacy first encountered LO when she was interning in a church in 2019. She started working with Lyrical Assembly, the program she now leads, focusing on creating safe spaces outside of white supremacy and what she describes as the heteropatriarchy. Her work drove her to write more and view her writing as a tool of resistance and healing, which became increasingly important for her with the recent increased visibility of anti-Asian hate. “It's been really hard to deal with that. There's a level of violence that comes with the visibility of a marginalized group only in the context of their death and trauma. I think that perfectly sums up what's going on for us right now as Asian people and Asian women because it's really hard when no one cared about you before. And now, when it feels like there’s a new video every day of one of your people getting attacked, I don't know how to handle it.” Lacy’s work is one of her passions, and she describes herself as “boring” without it. She loves traditional Asian food and likes to spend her time connecting with nature. “It’s a really big way of recentering for me. Being outside or going on walks, even just going to a park and sitting on the grass and connecting with the earth physically, is really healing. It's very recentering for me, and I believe creation speaks back to us. So whenever I'm out and trying to make sense of the world, I believe the grass is actually healing me.”

Team announcement

Lyrical Opposition Introduces Fego Navarro to its Stable of Artists

Lyrical Opposition Introduces Fego Navarro to its Stable of Artists

Social awareness nonprofit Lyrical Opposition has added Salvadoran American Fego Navarro to its stable of artists. Fego is a rapper and actor from San Francisco, CA, who met LO founder Cross Allan in 2016 after performing at a spoken word event at the San Francisco Christian Center more than two years ago. He says the meaning behind the Lyrical Opposition shows is what encouraged him to become an official LO artist. “I was doing shows prior to that, and what I noticed is that it was so intentional; when they do shows everyone was really actively listening,” he says. “It wasn't like everyone's just drunk and high. It was like, ‘Whoa, I've never done a show like this. It's not to say those shows aren’t fun too, but I saw that LO was very intentional with the themes with the community there. I felt really at home from the beginning.'” Fego featured in the 2012 song Them Days with Common Folk Nate, which premiered on MTV U and was #1 on Snoop Dogg’s online show Underground Heat in 2013. Among his acting credits, he appeared in the 2012 film Sin Padre, which won the audience award at the San Francisco Latino Film Festival. His most recent film credit is a movie titled Love Cecy, which premiered on HBO Latino Film Festival in 2017. Fego began experimenting with music as a teen, where he would freestyle raps with his friends after church services. His musical appreciation had been nurtured by his mother, who played a wide range of music, from Cumbia to soul, while he was growing up. He is releasing his first EP in April 2021. Fego is a big foodie, particularly when it comes to tacos. He grew up as a fan of Tupac and the Lakers in the NBA, which can surprise some people given he was born and raised in San Francisco. He spent part of his childhood in El Salvador and hopes to be able to travel to Europe with his music, once travel can resume to pre-pandemic levels.

Team announcement

Lyrical Opposition Appoints Shabnam Afshar as Secretary for its Board of Directors

Lyrical Opposition Appoints Shabnam Afshar as Secretary for its Board of Directors

Social awareness nonprofit Lyrical Opposition has announced the appointment of Shabnam Afshar as Secretary of its Board of Directors. Shabnam brings more than 10 years of therapy experience, and her approach to empowering her clients to overcome their struggles will help to guide her in her new role. Shabnam has been attending LO events for many years, as a friend of the board’s now-vice chair Shannon Price. She started out just wanting to support Shannon, but LO’s mission quickly resonated with her and she has become more and more involved as a supporter. “In this climate, there's so much protesting and voicing out, which is great, but I feel like art speaks to people in just such a deeper way,” she says. “Fighting social injustice through art, I just wish there was more of that. Because using art therapy, or even music, really helps people to open up more. Maybe we're not comfortable talking about our feelings, but we are totally comfortable talking about music or a piece of artwork. An Iranian-American, Shabnam is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist who runs her own private practice. She is also a Mental Health Therapist across five schools in the Fremont Union High School District in San Jose, California. She has a Masters in Counselling Psychology from Palo Alto University. In her free time, Shabnam has learned to develop habits that support her overall wellbeing, such as working out, playing sports, eating well, getting enough sleep, and devoting time to her faith. She also enjoys spending time with her dog, and her favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She describes herself as a functioning coffee addict, and she hopes to one day own a record store where people can hang out and listen to music while they get their coffee fix.

Team announcement

Bailey Fan Joins Lyrical Opposition as Lyrical Academy's Program Director

Bailey Fan Joins Lyrical Opposition as Lyrical Academy's Program Director

San Francisco nonprofit Lyrical Opposition is pleased to announce the hiring of Bailey Fan as Program Director for its Lyrical Academy. She has previously performed at a range of Lyrical Opposition events as an artist, and in her new role will focus on creating writing workshops where artists can come to write and express themselves. Bailey is a talented artist in her own right, specifically as a spoken word poet. Much of her work focuses on social issues and impactful subjects. She is nearing completion of her Psychology degree and is a big advocate for wellness and mental health. “We want to focus on other people and their stories. Rather than be experts trying to teach people how to become poets or writers, it’s really just focusing on allowing people to be able to express themselves and write out things that they've been feeling,” she says. “And so my day-to-day involves a lot of thinking of different ideas on how to be interactive, thinking of ways to engage the community in healing, art, and artistic expression.” Bailey is a big believer in stimulating different senses throughout the day, and will often light a range of different candles to subtly change her environment. She also places huge importance on switching off from work and technology and makes a conscious effort to shut down her laptop instead of just closing it. Bailey has worked in her community for the last 15 years, mostly helping young people with inequity, injustice, and other related issues. A proud Asian American, she sees her role as a lifestyle rather than a job and aims to equip people with the tools they need to positively influence their communities and their own lives.

Team announcement

Charissa Price Joins Lyrical Opposition as Operations Director

Charissa Price Joins Lyrical Opposition as Operations Director

Social awareness nonprofit Lyrical Opposition has made Charissa Price its Operations Director. Charissa has volunteered for the organization in a range of roles previously and aligns strongly with its mission of spreading hope and raising awareness through lyrical arts. Charissa joined Lyrical Opposition in 2020 when she returned to California from Africa as the pandemic escalated. She had been volunteering with Mercy Ships, helping to provide free healthcare to West African countries. Despite living on a boat for around seven months, she actually gets seasick, and she plans on returning to her former role when the global situation allows. Charissa has a degree in Child Development and graduated Magna Cum Laude from California Polytechnic State University. She currently works full-time as a kindergarten teacher and dedicates her spare time to her role with Lyrical Opposition. She is especially proud of being able to contribute and support the global conversation around minority rights. “We've been able to respond to a lot of the rise in hate crimes against Black and Asian Americans,” she says. “We’ve been able to offer book clubs with books that are relevant to what's happening, books are written by minority authors and about their journeys, and their immigrant stories. The most rewarding thing is that we're able to facilitate a place where people can go and do something, or process what's happening in the world right now. As much as I'm sure it's helping people, it also helps us as a staff to be able to kind of cope with what's going on too.” Charissa is an avid reader and has memorized her library card numbers. She also collects passport stamps, though with three pages still to fill and her passport due to expire in 2022, she’s not sure she’ll be able to fill the remaining space. She is a big fan of the San Francisco Giants in the MLB and remembers being in the stands for Travis Ishikawa’s famous walk-off home run that won the NLCS in 2014.

Team announcement

Lyrical Opposition Elects Shannon Price to its Board of Directors

Lyrical Opposition Elects Shannon Price to its Board of Directors

Social awareness nonprofit Lyrical Opposition has elected Shannon Price to its board of directors. Shannon will serve as vice-chair, as well as sit on the fundraising committee and assist the organization’s Lyrical Assembly initiative with project and operations management. Shannon is familiar with Lyrical Opposition’s ethos, having been Operations Manager from 2015 to 2017. She has been a tutor and a teacher, as well as working in events and office management. She currently serves as a project manager for Visual Prophets, a design and destiny agency that aims to guide journeys of self-discovery for people and businesses. Shannon is passionate about human development and creativity and is a highly efficient administrator and organizer. She believes the challenges Lyrical Opposition has overcome in the past year show the opportunity there is for future growth. “We used to have a lot of in-person things; events, workshops, things like that. When the pandemic hit, it was like, ‘oh, how are we going to pivot?’, but then we saw the silver lining was the opportunity to capitalize on virtual events,” she says. “So we are now able to connect with people everywhere, not just the Bay Area. We were also able to get a lot of relief grants for the first time. So while we've been in survival mode, we've also been able to thrive, which has been a pretty cool blessing.” Shannon describes herself as a half introvert and half extrovert, who is a big advocate for mental health, self, and social awareness, and curating community. Her favorite food is her Mom’s home-made Singaporean/Malaysian chicken rice. Interestingly, she grew up supporting San Francisco sports teams, the Giants and the Warriors but has lost interest in them after they won their respective MLB and NBA championships and experienced an influx of new fans.

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