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Team announcement

Meet Lyrical Opposition's Program Director: Lacy Nguyen

Meet Lyrical Opposition's Program Director: Lacy Nguyen, Lyrical Opposition

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 “But that’s been replaced by a cutthroat attitude of mistrust, which is a result of capitalism and American systems of success.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.”

More announcements from Lyrical Opposition

Team announcement

Get to Know Ashley Budelli, LO's Diversity, Inclusion, and Faith Coordinator

Get to Know Ashley Budelli, LO's Diversity, Inclusion, and Faith Coordinator

Ashley Budelli has the best of both worlds. A fifth-grade teacher, Ashley also takes on the role as the Diversity, Inclusion, and Faith Coordinator at Lyrical Opposition, allowing her to pack both her passions into her busy schedule. Lyrical Opposition is enabling positive social action through the arts, and Ashley is an advocate for marginalized voices. Part of her role involves running a book club, where she allows those voices to be heard. “It's really a community atmosphere; we're learning new things in an open space. In the community that we've created, we're all very different. It's multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and everyone can be their whole selves, which is a beautiful thing. “We try to not make diversity about this one event. Every activity, every program that we're doing, it's already included in the DNA of our group. So there's no special push for diversity. It's just that when we're picking books to read, we're thinking of who the author is or what’s a voice that we haven't heard from.” Ashley graduated with a bachelor of science and has since gone on to study ministry. Her degree is in Intercultural Studies, which gives her a unique perspective on inclusivity and diversity. “It’s just having the posture of learning from different cultures and different people. It’s about changing the frame of reference to think, ‘They have something to give that’s just as valuable as what I have to give’, and encouraging people to see how we can all become better from that.” Born and raised in San Francisco, Ashley says she has always been driven to help people to grow into the people that God has called them to be. Part of that comes from her work in school, where diversity can be encouraged from a young age. “With kids, it’s not just that they have a more well-rounded knowledge of others, but they can be active members striving for justice and equity. If you get that to young people, then they'll have that for the rest of their life, instead of trying to instill it in adults. “We're creating a different perspective, starting with things that are anti-racist or anti-oppression or anti-patriarchy. Because we're acknowledging these systems and we're only reactionary so really using our creative imagination and empowering the youth by having these conversations from a young age.” Passion is a central theme in a lot of what Ashley enjoys. Outside of her work, she likes watching movies, particularly when she can go to the theatre to enjoy them. She also hopes to live in a foreign country for a few months at some point and is drawn to Costa Rica as a place she wants to spend an extended period of time in.

Team announcement

Meet LO's Creative and Cultural Ambassador, Samuelu Veu

Meet LO's Creative and Cultural Ambassador, Samuelu Veu

Lyrical Opposition’s Creative and Cultural Ambassador knows there are many traps waiting for young people these days. Bay Area native Samuelu Veu has seen the devastating effects of violence, drug use, distribution, alcoholism, and neglect too many times, and he’s driven to help people avoid these kinds of lifestyles by providing a positive influence. “In LO, everybody knows how it feels to be excluded or left out. That's why it's always an open door. Anyone is always welcome, and that's how the DNA of LO makes it so easy for anybody and everybody to come in and feel like themselves. A lot of us know how it feels to not have a family, so this is like our family.” Lyrical Opposition is a community of artists inspiring social action through its messaging, and Sam uses platforms such as rap, spoken word, and guest speaking to spread love in the community. He started writing in eighth grade with one of his friends but didn’t start taking it seriously until later. “I'm like, heavy West Coast. Music all around, gangsta rap from L.A. It wasn't until I got older that I really started finding my voice and including things like poetry. There was always writing, whether it came out in rap or spoken word. Those were the common nucleus of my writing. But things really developed when I started exploring poetry.” Sam says he’s spent years developing his writing, but the next thing he wants to do is incorporate creative videos into his messaging. “When it comes to poetry and the rapping part, I don't want to sound cocky, but that's the easy part. That part will always be taken care of. It's just more of the package, which is showcasing the video or anatomy or facial expressions, and stuff like that.” Sam met LO founder, Christian when he was a student at Skyline College. Sam was actually the president of the hip hop club that Christian founded, and the pair have kept in touch ever since. Sam sees plenty of opportunities for growth for LO as it continues to meet the needs of its communities and enable positive social change. He believes the key to doing that is to stay true to its strengths. “We have such a heart to meet so many different needs all at once. My hope is that we see LO focus on like a core few things instead of trying to meet every need. If we could just focus on three things that we do for good, we will make a bigger difference that way. That’s what I hope to see and I feel like we're getting to that.” Sam is a dedicated Christian and is a big believer in the values of his Samoan roots; God, family, respect, discipline, and love. He is, not limited to, but mainly active in the Black and Pacific Island community and helps to coordinate events and benefit concerts, many of which he performs at.

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