THE AAPI community in Nevada took center stage during a Facebook LIVE roundtable hosted by Democratic Congresswoman Susie Lee. She is currently serving Southern Nevada’s 3rd congressional district.
The roundtable featured an informative conversation with leaders of the Asian Community Development Council (ACDC). The nonprofit and non-partisan organization operates with a mission to educate, empower, and connect the Asian American Pacific Islander community throughout the state of Nevada. ACDC’s founder & CEO Vida Lin said she appreciates Congresswoman Susie Lee for reaching out to the AAPI community, especially during these uncertain times.
“Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to think outside the box to reach our community,” said Lin. “We have done a number of virtual events and campaigns, and that’s why it’s so important for us to partner with the congresswoman and have this roundtable to talk about issues impacting the AAPI community in Nevada”.
The roundtable moderator, award winning journalist and Las Vegas based media consultant, Patranya Bhoolsuwan, brought up a variety of questions and issues impacting the AAPI community across the state. At one point, she asked if the government can do more to help AAPI families affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congresswoman Susie Lee said one of the critical things that needs to happen now is for the Senate to pass the Heroes Act, which was passed by the US House of Representatives 2 months ago.The Heroes Act contains $200 billion in additional money to American consumers, including assistance for making rent & mortgage payments.
“The Heroes Act has $ 8.7 billion in support of Nevada. If the Senate had passed this, we would not be having a lot of these tough conversations right now and the state legislator would not have to meet and cut programs important to our children” said Congresswoman Lee. “We just have to get this passed and get resources to our community.”
The congresswoman went on to say in terms of the healthcare impact of the novel Coronavirus epidemic, everyone in our community has to do their part to stop the spread of this disease.
“Ultimately this is a war-like scenario and the enemy is a virus that we can’t see. For us to overcome, we literally have to look out for each other and I have been inspired by my community members, including Asian Americans, who have stepped up and helped their neighbors.”
Among those who took part in the Facebook LIVE roundtable are three ACDC’s board members: Joe Coe, Director of Diversity at Boyd Gaming; Janice Tong, Director of Asian Gaming at M Resort; and Peter Lung, owner of World of Feng Shui, located in Chinatown in Las Vegas.
Lung says it’s important to raise awareness about how much this pandemic is hurting small businesses across the state.
“A lot of small businesses are deciding should I open and pay employees or should I close the business and retire,” said Lung. “That’s the situation right now. There’s no hope, there’s no future. And there’s the problem that even if a business is open, there are employees who don’t want to come to work because they are getting more money, that extra $600 dollars in addition from unemployment benefits from the government, for not going to work.”
Another issue that came up during the roundtable is the rise of racist incidents against AAPI communities across the country. This includes the use of the words “Kung Flu” and “Chinese Virus” by government leaders, including President Donald Trump.
Congresswoman Lee said it’s our obligations to speak up and talk about why this is wrong.
“We need to continue to put awareness on our leaders who are using this language and the impact it has on people’s lives, “ said Congresswoman Lee. “There are people on this call who have been subject of discrimination. I think it’s incredibly hurtful. I wish our leaders would not use those languages. We need to shine a light on this issue.”
Both Congresswoman Lee and ACDC leaders expressed a feeling of hope despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and they urged everyone to go out and register to vote for the General Election this November. They also asked people to take a few minutes to fill out their census.
“I have been in Vegas 25 years. I know that Nevada, especially Las Vegas, has the ability to think outside the box and adapt to challenges. We will all get through this but we need to work together.”
Congresswoman Lee agrees the partnership each community has with each other is key in getting past these uncertain times.
“For as challenging and devastating in some cases as this pandemic has been, there are bright spots and the work that ACDC has done, the work that the AAPI community has gone out to do especially in getting PPE’s and food to those in need, that makes me hopeful,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Anyone who needs assistance please call my office 702-963-9336. We are here to help. Our staff is working day in and day out, We are here to help you to pull through this.”