Updated May 16, 2021 - 7:00 am
When Micaela Moore left the Philippines to go to college in the United States, she downplayed her roots.
She feared not fitting in. She didn’t want people to hear her mother’s accent when she came to visit.
“I didn’t want people to notice that I was an immigrant or that I was different,” Moore, the city attorney of North Las Vegas, told the City Council on May 5.
And when she went to law school, she changed the pronunciation of her name so it wouldn’t be a barrier.
Moore choked up as she shared how working for the city allowed her to be herself.
“This is the American dream, not just to live together in tolerance, but to live together in support and celebration of one another,” she told the council. “That’s how we thrive.”
After she spoke, council members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
North Las Vegas’ resolution comes during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and follows a similar resolution adopted by the Clark County Commission in April. Together, the resolutions draw public attention to the rise in acts of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks instances of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, received 6,603 reports of acts of hate across the U.S. between March 19, 2020, and March 31. About 2,800 of those were reported in March 2021 alone.
Verbal harassment and shunning accounted for the majority of reported incidents.
Rozita Lee, a community advocate and former member of a White House advisory commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, has lived in Southern Nevada since 1979 and has seen the growth of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities here. She has also seen the way people are treated.
“And we have been so invisible,” she said.
Lee said resolutions like the one passed by North Las Vegas are important because they bring the public’s attention to the diverse cultures of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
“And so it’s important that people know us so that we can have what we call civility,” she said. “Civility amongst all people.”
Use of the phrase “China virus” has led to a shift in how some in the United States perceive Asian Americans, according to the North Las Vegas resolution. Former President Donald Trump has used the phrases “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu.”
Although discussions about race have moved into focus over the past year, Moore said Asian voices have remained quiet.
Moore knows the council’s action, which is purely symbolic, is important because it lends a voice to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, which lack representation in media, popular culture and government.
“If there is not the representation, then who is going to speak up?” she said. “You need other people to speak up on your behalf.”
Moore said the resolution reinforces the fact that Asian Americans are part of this country.
“I can tell you, even as an immigrant, I feel deeply patriotic. Deeply,” she said. “I mean, I love this country and all the ideals it stands for, and I think most people feel that way. So, I think it’s really all that recognition that, just because we look different, maybe sometimes sound different, doesn’t mean we’re any less American.”
The resolution, Moore said, serves as a way to show solidarity with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“We see your pain, we share your burden and pledge to support you,” Moore said at the meeting.