Signs of Solidarity on Shop Windows
Several off-campus businesses are fostering a sense of unity with the Muslim population of Riverdale as clear as their storefront windows.
These stores, often frequented by Manhattan College students, have placed paper signs on their façades which read, “EVERYONE IS WELCOME HERE.”
The black and white flyers feature an image of a smiling woman wearing a hijab, an example of traditional Islamic dress denoting the signs as being directed towards the Muslim community. As of this past Friday, the signs could be seen hanging in the windows of the Short Stop Coffee Shop, Riverdale’s Premiere Laundromat and Pharmcare Pharmacy, all lining Broadway opposite Van Cortlandt Park.
Josie Cardenas, manager of Pharmcare, explained how she came to receive the sign and why she decided to hang it up.
“A local artist was visiting a museum downtown, […] she saw it in the museum and decided to print it and go to all the local businesses and ask if it was okay to post it in lieu of all that is going on.”
The posters arrive at a heightened time of concern for discrimination towards the community throughout the country. Additionally, they come in the wake of President Donald J. Trump’s executive order barring entry into the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a decision that has since been rejected by a three-judge federal appeals panel.
Cardenas said the business received the poster just prior to the ban’s instatement. She says that she plans on keeping it up, despite other local businesses which have since taken their own copies down.
“If it’s not offending anyone I’ll keep it there,” said Cardenas, who also noted that some customers have made positive comments about the sign.
“We are all humans… it doesn’t depend on your color of skin, your background, […] everybody should be treated the same. No race is better or worse than another.”
The poster was originally designed by Oakland, California-based artist Micah Bazant. According to Bazant’s website, they were first printed and distributed in the San Francisco Bay Area before quickly spreading across the country, as more establishments followed suit in hanging them up, letting passersby know that their business would welcome any customer regardless of religion.
The posters have been well received by Manhattan students. Senior and Chrysostom Hall Resident Assistant Rima Reda is just one of many who appreciated the gesture.
“I think it’s good that people are trying to show that they’re including Muslims, although our president has other views on it; but at the same time I feel like it’s something that shouldn’t have [needed] to be said in the first place,” said Reda.
Reda, who was raised Muslim, pointed out that the flyer’s could also serve a role in heartening those feeling targeted during a trying time for the nation.
“It shows young kids that are Muslim like ‘Oh I’m not the bad person’,” said Reda.
“[The posters] wouldn’t influence me to go in, it would just reassure me that not everybody’s an idiot, and I wouldn’t mind giving these people business if they had this on their door.”