By Sumaiya Malik
Ashwin Ghatalla, (Co-chair Austin Asian Complete Count Committee, President Asian American PAC and Advisory Board Member IACT) works relentlessly to make people aware of the importance of Census 2020 and realize the power of their vote.
For that he has in the past year brought elected officials and political candidates on a single platform at AARC where the South Asian community could hear them and ask questions about what concerned the community.
So when Ghatalla brought BRAVE Community Conversations to our attention, we sat up and listened.
Ghatalia wants South Asian communities to participate in a conversation uniting all Asian communities, including Pacific Islanders, conducted monthly by BRAVE Communities.
His reasoning is to learn, collaborate and seek support from each other especially through 2020, a critical year for civic engagement.
“Only together we form 7% bloc for politicians to pay attention.” According to him, each group does not have a clout separately.
Founded in 2016 by Emlyn Lee, BRAVE Communities (Build Relationships, Awareness, Voices, and Engagement), seeks to unite students, schools, businesses, nonprofits, and community groups by sharing their stories and voices, so people may understand, embrace, and empower each other to become a more integrated and inclusive. It highlights community leaders through monthly conversations (currently webinars) who share how they assert their identities as they carry on their daily lives. BRAVE also highlights, the work Asian Community did in shaping the history of the US in order to empower the Asian American identity.
At the same time, it offers a training for future adults through a six-part series program for young females to be better leaders, influencers and advocates for social justice and racial equality.
Keeping this collaboration in mind on May 18, Emlyn Lee conducted a webinar on AAPI’s National Anti-Bully/Anti-Hate Day interviewing five Asian community champions including Pooja Sethi, Attorney and Asian American Quality of Life Commissioner, candidate for City Council District 10, Hugh Li, Ph.D., high-tech entrepreneur, President-Elect at Austin Chinese American Network (ACAN) Lucas Pastorfield-Li, recipient of Masters in Global Policy Studies on migration from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT in May and creative artist Linda Phan, Director of Public Policy at Texas Council on Family Violence, and Alice Yi, Chairwoman of Austin Area Census Count Committee, founded the Austin chapter of APAPA, a consultant for APIA Vote, and on the executive board of national 80-20PAC.
Each one talked about how they face daily challenges of asserting their identity as they carry on their daily work.
This summer, BRAVE iwill offer BRAVE-Makers Young Women’s Leadership Summer Program to emerging young women leaders (ages 15-21 y.o., inclusive), a 6-series (12 hours) training program that will equip young females to be a better leader and influencer, and activator for social justice and racial equity.
The organization is especially seeking out youth from all different racial/ethnic backgrounds including the South Asian network. Scholarships available on need basis for the program at https://bravecommunities.org/ or email Emlyn Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Application deadline is June 3.