By Elena Allison
If you could visit a past version of yourself (let’s say, New Years Eve of 2019) what advice would you have now? Just as it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to truly understand through words the depth of the turbulence that 2020 has brought thus far, it is still equally difficult for many of us to have meaningful and impactful conversations about current events. At Rafi Nova, our mission is to unite families by celebrating cultures from around the world and explore the different ways in which we build and create community. Although still in our early stages, Rafi Nova has attempted to live up to our promises by repeatedly shifting our brand and focus to meet the needs of all the different members of our community. In the month of June, we would typically shine a spotlight on the LGBTQ+ community both in celebration of achievements made, as well as recognition of the work that still needs to be done. However, in the past month, if you have seen the news, checked social media, or had any human contact (even through social distancing), you are likely aware that this month’s normal visions of parades, parties, and glitter have been postponed until further notice, and instead replaced with more solemn spaces for thought and action. As a business, and also as individuals, we are aware that it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and our children about topics that are painful and uncomfortable, like discrimination, brutality, and privilege. The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of pride celebrations, and falls at the center of a historic turning point in the course of human rights. At Rafi Nova, we will not be left behind as we move towards “a new normal”. This month, we stand behind the LGBT+ community and its decision to redirect attention towards the Black Lives Matter movement. We are committed to educating ourselves, our children, and our communities in an effort to make the world a better, safer, and more accepting place.
A blessing that comes from living in the age of the internet is the availability of information. Although not experts on the subject, we believe a critical piece of information to know when reflecting this month is that Pride began as a riot led by people of color against unfair treatment by police. In 1969 in New York City, bars that catered to gays could not receive a licence to serve liquor, which allowed the NYPD to enter the Stonewall Inn with a warrant. After thirteen individuals were arrested and excessive police force was used, riots ensued which ended up lasting for five days. The Stonewall riots are widely considered to be the catalyst that created legislative change for LGBT+ rights in the following years.
The similarities between the events leading to the riots at Stonewall are eerily similar to the events that led to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more. The BLM movement is currently calling on all marginalized individuals to come together in advocacy. Pride month focuses on how love triumphs over all, and this has not changed this year. We are answering the call by showing love and empathy to those injured by racism and prejudice in our country. If our country is founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all, it is time to change the system and live up to our words.
These topics are monumental to understand as a society, let alone as children. It is okay to not know where to begin, because these conversations are not meant to be easy or comfortable. Thankfully, there are abundant resources made available by experts to help your family decide how to approach the issues. Children frequently possess an inherent curiosity and empathy that will likely make them receptive to the message. When approaching any difficult issue, it is important to first find out what your children already know, offer comfort, and remain honest. They will likely ask questions in response, which should be answered calmly and directly. In times like these, it is important for parents to set a good example. Paying attention, staying informed, and taking action are things parents can do that will give children a sense of safety and control. Linked below are resources to offer information and help approach each specific situation.
Rafi Nova has designed two new collections of face masks to help spread awareness. The Pride Mask features the iconic rainbow design and three layers of protection. 15% of proceeds will be donated to TransParent USA, which works to offer support to parents of children who are gender independent. The "I am Listening Mask comes in a pack of two designs which champion compassion. 100% of proceeds will be donated to The ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Education Fund.In addition to voting with your dollar, there are many ways to be active with Pride this year. There are many virtual celebrations being hosted that provide safe spaces for LGBT individuals that are also safe from COVID spread. Additionally, informing yourself about current events like the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to uphold LGBTQ+ workplace rights, as well as understanding the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals during COVID-19 is the first step towards being an ally. And if you were disappointed by the cancellation of Pride events this year, consider attending a Black Lives Matter protest instead. Although the experience will be different, you will be fighting for the same cause.