The fundraiser that I participated in organizing occurred this past Thursday. After the original planning meeting that I mentioned in this post, we - the community - rallied to create the fundraising event, under the auspices of the RAFA-V Foundation, called RAFApalooza. After the initial frenzy of organization, I had to drop back my involvement pretty significantly due to some family issues that needed my attention, but due to the amazing energy, vision, and skills of a spitfire named Sara Hudson, the event was AMAZEBALLS.
The final monetary totals are yet to be released - Monday seems to be the target date for that - but there were probably around 400 people there, about 40 different silent auction items up for bid, a half dozen restaurants spooning out delicious food (a dish called jambalaya grits has stolen my heart!) and all sorts of people: cops, politicians (Council Member Susan Guidry,) young, old, black, brown, white... a proclamation declaring November 17 (the date of the party) a Day of Nonviolence (maybe I should check the crime stats out to see how that worked out...) It was intense and awesome and exhausting.
Yet with all of this, Rafael still loves his city. When this city let him down, he did not leave. He stayed. He stayed to do something about it and the community has rallied around him and the need to stop this culture of violent living in New Orleans. We have a generation of hopelessness and despair, of feeling undervalued and tossed to the wayside, the “lost generation of New Orleans” if you will...no respect for their own lives much less anybody else's. And WE must be the ones to stop it.
So, first on the agenda is RAFApalooza: A Fundraiser, Silent Auction, & Anti-Violence Event. Rafael explained, “As I was recovering from the shooting, it seemed that the city and community in general was really affected by what happened and really rallied around it. So it’s become much bigger than me. A lot of folks are starting to understand that they have a role to play in dealing with the epidemic of violence that’s affecting the city.”
Organizer Sara Hudson added, “As soon as people found out about what happened to Rafael, twenty-four hours later we had fifty people in a room saying, ‘What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do for Rafael and for this city?!’ This was an impetus to really take action and not just say, ‘Oh, this is bad.’ This is not about finding these individuals; this is about a systemic problem. It’s not about two kids and a gun. It’s about a city full of kids with guns.”
Well done, y'all. But this is only one step in an ongoing battle. Never forget that indifference kills.