Orange County allies celebrate Juneteenth by giving back to a community in crisis: while satisfying the sweet tooth
In spite of Orange County taking on the label of the “red curtain” for its localized conservatism amidst the continuously rising economy, the youth of southern California are taking social and political initiative into their own hands. By donating their talents and skills to raise awareness for injustice all over the world, these community leaders reshape their geographical region one step at a time.
A recent rejuvenation of the Black Lives Matter movement has shaken the United States’ population and has spread its aftershocks all over the world. However, the discussion has only grown stronger through the bonds created by those who have had enough with persistently ignored racial discrimination. Marches, protests, and unplanned riots are pronounced the booming microphone of the voices taking action against police brutality. The video-recorded murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 created a momentum inspirational enough to carry a liberative togetherness of diverse communities across the nation.
The youthful lead organizers of Baked Goods for BLM, Hannah Rogers and Amanda Tang. (Hannah Rogers)
At the pinpoint of Mission Viejo, individuals and allies of the movement use their innovative minds to find a safe, positive way to contribute to fundraising towards this globally ensured cause. In fact, two strong-minded women alike took their passion and baking expertise to a county-wide collaborative bake sale. Saddleback student, Amanda Tang, and close friend Hannah Rogers thought up the delicious idea organizing a socially distanced event on June 19– otherwise known as “Juneteenth,” the day in which the last slaves in America were emancipated from Texas slaveholders once the news of their freedom finally reached them two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was passed in 1863. The two leaders brought in friends and family from different SoCal cities to volunteer over 40 different kinds of pastries, delivery drivers, and packagers. Even so, there were more positions to be filled. Through a virtual interview, Tang says “What is so great about the bake sale is that there are so many different jobs people could do. Everything you bake burns? That’s okay! You can volunteer to drive and deliver the orders. Too young to drive or don’t own a car? That’s okay, be a baker! Can’t bake or drive for the sale? All good! Buy some delicious baked treats from our sale! Don’t live in the South Orange County area, but want to help? Great! Donate! Can’t donate? That’s okay, too! Share our posts on Instagram to get the word out.” Like the movement, there is always a way to play a part in resolving injustice.
Selling out within hours of their debut to the public on the Instagram account “bakedgoodsforblm,” the variety of pastries sit, ready to be delivered by community members drive all across south Orange County. (Hannah Rogers)
The “Baked Goods For Black Lives Matter” event was to take place one week after initially spreading the word through Instagram stories. Tang and Rogers also created a platform to post the different announcements and desserts they were going to offer. However, the support from the OC community was overwhelming. The “virtual” bake sale’s name spread across the platform after being seen on various stories and posts regarding the unique juncture. As Tang is known around the campus to be a notable baker after being taught by her own mother– a bakery owner herself– growing up, chatter began to form about what delectable treats were to be offered. When the exciting day came, Tang and Rogers gather their recruited volunteers in groups that work together in creating a successful system after seeing the influx of offers for their wholesome goods. Following the informative release that the bake sale is going to be held for 8 hours, the excitement and yearning to donate to the growing initiative turned “Baked Goods For Black Lives Matter” into a proud community moment for the youth of Orange County.
An assembly line begins to formulate in order to efficiently tend to the high influx of orders. From left to right, Faith Rogers, Amanda Tang, Peyton Chambers, Hannah Rogers, Forrest Houldin, and Alyssa Hall hustling for BLM. (Hannah Rogers)
Every unit sold within hours leaving the organizers tiresome, yet, starstruck with the rush of support and love received by their peers and strangers looking to help in any way they can. With aching hands and scattered thoughts, Amanda Tang and Hannah Rogers raise $3,000 towards their donations to three organizations fighting for racial equality. Rogers says
“We started ‘Baked goods For BLM’ as a safe way to raise money for organizations that directly help black communities.”
Effectively, the donations from the fundraiser are being equally split between Equal Justice Initiative, ArtworxLA, and the Communities United Against Police Brutality. Each working in regards to achieving equality for black individuals in the U.S.
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. Based in Los Angeles, ArtworxLA combats the high school dropout crisis by engaging students in long-term, sequential arts programs to offer a pursuable life path that inspires them to stay in school, evolve as unique people and flourish as creative adults. Communities United Against Police Brutality tackles defunding and ultimately changing the system of Minneapolis and St. Paul area police departments, in light of George Floyd’s death, by combatting brutality from many angles– including political and social legislative action, education, research, and providing services and support for victims and their families.
Volunteers, Savannah Sweet-Buhler and Forrest Houldin, take precautions in light of COVID-19 protocol and their regard for the safety of others. (Hannah Rogers)
This prosperous outcome of the “Baked Goods For Black Lives Matter” event leads Amanda Tang and Hannah Rogers feeling hopeful about a future who enforces equality for black individuals and dissipates the normalcy of racism. “If there’s anything I want to let the people who feel like they’re just one person so they can’t possibly make a difference know is that I used to feel that way too. You don’t need a large online platform or loads of money to do so. Use the talents you have! Small changes and big changes are changes nonetheless,”
Similarly, Rogers is ready– as an ally– to see change in the communities they worked to donate to: “We feel that this fundraiser will make a difference because through our chosen organizations we can help ensure justice for those who are wrongfully imprisoned, foster creative spaces for people of color to thrive in, and to support efforts to assist those directly affected by police brutality.”
After finally packaging all of the tasty treats into disposable containers, the team reflects upon their hard work by coming together in celebration of the bake sale’s contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement after raising $3000 in total.
When speaking on their inspirations and motivations for the social media based bake sale, each of them describe what they are hoping to see as a result of all of the efforts that are constantly evolving in response to the resparked movement. The activists converse how “there are many changes I wish to see in our communities and nation, but the one that was the main initiative to create the Baked Goods for Black Lives Matter bake sale is that Black people are killed by the police at a greater rate than any other race; but also that Black people, largely due to our nation’s colonial past and systemic racism, have been put at a disadvantage. The social issues in our country like unequal education, housing, food insecurity, the cycle of poverty, etc. can be traced and have roots in systemic inequality which affect marginalized groups, more specifically Black Americans.”
“Change is long overdue,” Rogers demands, “and we must continue to fight for what we believe, no matter the opposition we may face on the road to freedom.”
The two find that their passions align with the ambition needed to push forward this long-overdue fight for change. However, “America has made progress, I acknowledge that, but we should not stop now. There is more work to be done.”