Why should you become a BRAVE-Maker?
The following is a summary from the ACAN Youth Talk given by Emlyn Lee on May 29.
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If you couldn’t achieve something just because of your skin color, what would you do?
Unfortunately, Emlyn Lee had to witness this when she was only in 5th grade. She noticed that the main roles of a play at her school were all white students, even though there were other more talented, non-white students. When she was in 6th grade, the same happened to her and her best friend; they were given the supporting roles despite being more fit for the main.
Emlyn is the 5th (and youngest) daughter of her family. While her 1st and 3rd sisters had a gift for math and her 2nd and 4th sisters had art skills, Emlyn was sort of the “black sheep” of her family. Although she wasn’t good at a specific subject, she had great people skills and as a result, she was very aware of the injustices happening around her.
Angered by the unfairness, Emlyn encouraged the ”minority”
classmates to boycott the play. This would be the beginning of her fight to bring awareness to the social injustice happening around us.
Many years later in 2001, after the tragic 9/11 attacks, Emlyn was inspired to start her first company. She and a group of volunteers helped Americans, predominantly 18-30 years old, to travel abroad to ~29 countries in 5 continents with an immersive experience.. She worked on this business for about 10 years until she sold it.
In 2015, after multiple African Americans being shot to death because of their skin color, Emlyn created BRAVE Communities, a program dedicated to spreading awareness to social justice, amplifying voices of the marginalized, and advocating various political events, such as the census.
BRAVE stands for: Build Relationships Awareness Voices Engagement
BRAVE Communities is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers a variety of programs and services for the Greater Austin area and beyond. They host monthly community conversations, organize a monthly community celebration called “BRAVE-Fest”, and host young leaders for U.S. Department of State cultural and educational programs. This year, 2020, has two significant events: the US Census and the national presidential election, which only fall on the same year every 20 years. Because of the lasting impact that these two events will have over the next few years, Emlyn is hosting a summer program for female-identifying youth between the ages of 15-21 years old.
This program, called BRAVE-Makers, is a leadership and social change program for young women. During this program, young women will develop leadership skills, explore racial identity, promote peer accountability, and become influencers for positive social change.
Right now we are living in a historic time. The COVID-19 pandemic not only caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, but revealed the inequities of living standard and access to healthcare among communities of color. The tragic death of George Floyd and many others show this. Not only that, but the two greatest powers in the world, China and the US, have increased tensions.
It is in this context that Emlyn came to speak to ACAN Youth last Friday and shared with us her life journey, her passion, and what we can do as ACAN Youth. Just as Emlyn said, “as an Asian American, this is probably the most impactful time of our life. We can rise up and become an agent of change, a BRAVE-Maker.”
“as an Asian American, this is probably the most impactful time of our life. We can rise up and become an agent of change, a BRAVE-Maker.”