Bakers Against Racism

Last summer, hundreds of thousands of bakers joined forces for the largest bake sale in history. Launched by Bakers Against Racism, an organization founded by Paola Velez, Willa Pelini, and Rob Rubba, the bake sales have raised $1.9 million to date—and counting. We’re highlighting three of the bakers who helped transform the bake sale from a fundraising event to a full-blown movement.

Arley Arlington

Black Lives Matter

ARLEY ARRINGTON

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

How did you get involved with Bakers Against Racism?

AA: “When I first saw the Instagram post announcing Bakers Against Racism, I was immediately on board. I’ve been running an online bakery, Arley Cakes, for a while, and I’ve always brought my beliefs and activism to my baking. For the Richmond, Virginia, fundraiser, I baked little cookies with “Black Lives Matter” frosted on top. Since then, I’ve been auctioning cakes to the highest bidder and hosting other bake sales, donating the proceeds to a variety of causes, from a local fundraiser for school supplies to Spread the Vote, which boosts voter registration. Basically, since the first bake sale, I’ve strived to do one bake sale a month. Even if the donations are small, I love the opportunity to raise awareness for these causes.”

We’ve all been spending more time at home recently. Have you challenged yourself with any difficult or more-involved bakes during the pandemic?

AA: “I’m still figuring out what I want Arley Cakes to look like, but I know what the long-term goal is. I want to build a business that can create good job opportunities for people who need it. I want to provide good work for disenfranchised people, offering benefits and health insurance in an industry that really needs it.”

FOLLOW: arleycakes.com

INSTAGRAM: @arley.cakes

ROBERT TOLAND

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

How did you get involved with Bakers Against Racism?

RT: “The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, chapter of Bakers Against Racism started with Camille Cogswell through Chef Paola Velez. Camille and Paola reached out to me shortly afterwards to get me involved. Being the Pastry Chef at Terrain for the past 5 years allowed me to have a larger platform to spread the word. Not only were we able to reach out to bakers in the Philadelphia area but we were also able to get chefs from our other locations involved as well. Camille also partnered with local brands like Weckerly’s to get the word out. When we got back together to do the Bake the Vote bake sale, the mission was the same. Raise money and awareness while supporting those that are trying to make a difference in our society.”

Robert Toland

Where does your work go from here?

RT: “This was my first time getting involved in a bake sale that raised funds for charities. I’ve always donated my money, but never my time and work like this and it’s been so incredibly gratifying. For future bake sales, we’re just hoping to protect the vision that Paola, Willa, and Rob worked so hard to create with Bakers Against Racism. The climate becomes ripe for people to be more informed. Now, more than ever, people are ready to listen. It’s up to us to be a voice of change.”

Weckerly's

INSTAGRAM: @thetoland

@phillybakersagainstracism

CHERYL DAY

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

How did you get involved with Bakers Against Racism?

CD: “Lisa Marie Donovan, Sarah O’Brien, and I had just started the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice, an organization that works to do similar fundraising through an all-star group of Southern restaurants. Since bakers are the sweetest people on earth, I knew that we could pool our resources together to raise even more funds and awareness. We’ve been collaborating ever since. Lisa, Sarah, and I are all bakers, so it was a natural relationship that developed. For our organization, 100% of our profits go to Black-owned restaurants that are struggling. But we’re always coordinating with BAR, doubling our impact. It’s incredibly empowering that all of our voices are raised together.”

What do you think has made Bakers Against Racism such a successful movement?

CD: “The reason I think this bake sale has been so successful is because Paola and the other founders opened the platform to both professional bakers and home bakers. It made all the difference. So many people were able to be part of this. When we hear about people in France and Germany who were able to participate, it’s because everyone was welcome to join. Plus, Paola Velez is one of the most inspiring young women I know. As an elder watching this young woman come up in the same profession, it makes me so proud. She’s been my woman of the year.”

Where do you think it goes from here?

CD: “Bake sales go so far back in our history, since the Civil Rights movement and beyond. Bakers have always been the ones to get together to raise money for different organizations. This isn’t a trend. Bakers know they can make a difference, and I don’t see that going away anytime soon.”

Cheryl Day

FOLLOW: backinthedaybakery.com

INSTAGRAM: @cherylday

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