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A bake sale like no other, Bakers Against Racism has raised $1.8 million (US$1.3 million) and counting for organizations supporting Black lives around the world. Founded by three Washington, D.C. chefs — Paola Velez, Willa Pelini and Rob Rubba — the global virtual bake sale is thought to be the largest of its kind. After quickly gaining momentum on social media, the grassroots movement united bakers from 16 countries on five continents with a common goal: “to fight racism with the tools we know how to utilize, our food.”
As with the recent renewed interest in community cookbooks — such as Montreal restaurant Elena’s pair of digital mini publications , which benefits the city’s hospitality workers — people are returning to bake sales (albeit in online form) to raise funds and awareness. “Bake sales are community activism,” Bakers Against Racism said on Instagram. “The power of a pie is unyielding in times for change.”
Thousands of bakers joined the cause, including Evelyn’s Crackers in Toronto, which contributed proceeds of their almond-hazelnut biscotti to Women’s Health in Women’s Hands (and shared the recipe on their website ), Jean Hwang Carrant in Paris, France, who donated sales of black sesame cookies to Little Africa, and Blondery in Brooklyn, N.Y., which sold blackout blondies to benefit the Equal Justice Initiative.
“I really wanted folks to not only participate in this, but to research the local organizations that are impacting change within their very own communities,” Velez, executive pastry chef at Kith/Kin, told Washingtonian . “Every baker that participates has the power within their own hands to choose the organization that best represents them and what they believe is going to make lasting change to Black lives.”
When the organizers put out a call for participants on June 4, 100 chefs, cooks, professional and home bakers signed up. What started as a national endeavour went worldwide within days.
Involvement required bakers to offer at least 150 treats for sale, and donate the majority of proceeds to a nonprofit involved in enriching Black lives. Word swiftly spread leading up to pre-sales, which began on June 15; dessert pickups took place on June 20.
Baker Dawn Woodward, co-owner of Evelyn’s Crackers, joined the virtual bake sale after catching wind of it on Instagram. “What a nice note of joy and hope in this time,” she says of the movement’s success. “They did such a good job: The graphic is beautiful, the website, how you sign up. They made it so easy to participate in.”
The bake sale was open to “everyone who wants to see radical change against systemic and structural racism.” To get involved, bakers sent an email to the address listed on the Bakers Against Racism website. In return, the group shared a folder with each participant, which included a form detailing who they planned to donate to and why, instructions on getting started, pandemic precautions, as well as a list of anti-racism resources. After the sale was complete, bakers filled out a second form tracking their donations.
For Woodward, Evelyn’s Crackers’ involvement in the anti-racist bake sale is part of a long-term commitment to activism. Inspired by Toronto-based documentary filmmaker Arianne Persaud — founder of the Toronto Restaurant Workers Relief Fund and the #changehospitality initiative — she hopes to fundraise for various similar causes every four to six weeks. “We’re already committed to grain diversity and food access, and they’re all connected,” says Woodward. “It’s just broadening our vision that much more.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020