We don’t need a reason to get our sandwich on, but August is National Sandwich Month. Whether you’re bringing it in a brown bag or serving it up on a silver platter, there’s a celebratory sandwich out there for you. Try one of these!
We’ve partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Yolo County, our current Round Up recipient, to bring members of our community resources for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Mental Health Awareness Month. If you belong to the BIPOC/QTBIPOC community, you can find free mental health resources near the end of this blog.
Since 2008, July has been recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (or BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month). Bebe Moore Campbell was a Black American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate. She worked tirelessly to bring attention to the mental health needs of the Black community, including those of her daughter who suffered from mental illness. She witnessed the abandonment of her daughter by institutions meant to help, so she founded NAMI Inglewood to create space for Black folks to talk about mental health concerns.
This year’s theme is Strength in Communities. Like Bebe Moore Campbell and her daughter, many BIPOC folks have to find mental health support outside of traditional institutions. A lack of adequate services and a lack of representation have effectively marginalized many BIPOC folks from these traditional avenues of support. This year’s theme recognizes how BIPOC communities have had to overcome this and in the process have become experts in creating alternative support systems built by BIPOC and QTBIPOC (queer and transgender BIPOC) for BIPOC and QTBIPOC. Some of these alternative support systems include:
- Community care refers to ways in which communities of color have provided support to each other. This can include things such as mutual aid, peer support, and healing circles.
- Self-directed care is an innovative practice that emphasizes that people with mental health and substance use conditions, or their representatives if applicable, have decision-making authority over services they receive.
- Cultural care refers to practices that are embedded in cultures that are passed down through generations that naturally provide resiliency and healing.
Not surprisingly, white supremacy has serious negative effects on BIPOC mental health. Racial trauma refers to “ongoing individual and collective harms from repeated exposure to race-based stress.” The mental health effects of racial trauma are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. However, race-based traumatic stress involves prolonged exposure to the stressor(s), unlike traditional cases of PTSD. According to Mental Health America, while rates of mental illness are slightly lower in BIPOC communities, they often experience a higher burden of disability from mental illness. In fact, Black adults are 20% more likely than white adults to report serious psychological distress and depression is more persistent in BIPOC communities. In the criminal justice system, where BIPOC folks are disproportionately overrepresented, mental health conditions are common. The American Psychiatric Association found that 50-75% of BIPOC youth in the juvenile justice system meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental illness. Finally, Indigenous adults in the U.S. have the highest reported rate of mental illness of any single race identifying group, according to the APA.
Mental Health Resources for BIPOC folks
Loveland Therapy for Black Women and Girls (financial aid for therapy)
For white folks looking for ways to support BIPOC mental health
Learn about Racial Battle Fatigue and its effects on BIPOC mental health
Read this article about using your words, actions, and power to oppose racism
Read this article about how adults can support the mental health of Black Children
Round up at the Register for NAMI Yolo County during July 2021
Use the information in this blog to remove the plastic from your personal care routine! You can find these products in our Wellness Department as of the time this blog was written. You can also opt to save some money and make your own plastic-free personal care products*! All of the recipes feature ingredients available from our Bulk Department or ingredients packaged in glass.
Hand soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent, dishwasher concentrate, shower gel, and Dr. Bronner’s all-one soap are also available in bulk from the Wellness Department. Bring your own jars from home to fill up! You can also reuse old plastic lotion and shampoo bottles.
At the Co-op: Araceli Farms Lavender Scrub
This local scrub is made with Dead Sea salt, sugar, shea butter, coconut oil, and essential oils. The glass and metal packaging is reusable (great for shopping bulk!) and recyclable. Araceli farms is woman- and Latinx-owned.
DIY: Lavender Scrub
- 1 cup organic granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp softened coconut oil
- 5-10 drops lavender essential oil
- Optional: ½ tsp dried lavender flowers
Place sugar in a small container with a good-fitting lid. Add the coconut oil 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring in between. The consistency should be similar to wet sand, so if you achieve that before 3 tablespoons are added, stop there.
Use scrub after showering or soaking in the tub to remove dead skin. Pat skin dry and gently rub in scrub in a circular motion all over your body. Rinse well. Store in a glass container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Booda Butter Naked Coconut Cream Deodorant
This is a fragrance-free deodorant made with baking soda, coconut oil, shea butter, tapioca flour, and cocoa butter. It is handmade with organic ingredients. Some folks with sensitive skin can experience irritation from baking soda. If this is you, you can try our baking soda-free DIY version below!
DIY: Tea Tree Oil Deodorant
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup arrowroot powder
- 10-20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10-20 drops lavender essential oil
Soften coconut oil with low heat. In the summer, ambient room temperatures are usually high enough for coconut oil to be soft. In a small bowl or glass jar, mix together coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and essential oils. Apply to dry underarms as needed. Store in a glass container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Auromere Ayurvedic Mint Toothpaste
This toothpaste uses a blend of ayurvedic herbs like neem, licorice, peppermint, and spearmint. Fine clay acts as a gentle cleanser in this toothpaste. It’s formula is also highly concentrated so each jar lasts longer than conventional toothpaste because you use less each time you brush.
Bonus! You can also find plastic free floss (Senza Bamboo 100% Plastic Free Silk Floss, MamaP Vegan Dental Floss) and toothbrush (Green Panda Bamboo Toothbrush) options in the Wellness Department.
DIY: Minty Toothpaste
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 4 tbsp baking soda
- 10 drops spearmint essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
Soften, but do not melt, coconut oil with low heat. In the summer, ambient room temperatures are usually high enough for coconut oil to be soft. Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly until completely combined and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a glass jar with a good-fitting lid. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: Booda Organics Suds of Love All-in-One Soap Bar
This soap bar works as a body wash, shave cream, and shampoo! It’s made with olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and sodium hydroxide and is formulated to soothe dry, itchy skin and scalp.
You can find dozens of plastic free bar soap options at the Co-op! Many come from local vendors as well.
DIY: Honey Citrus Body Wash
- ⅔ cup liquid castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
- ¼ cup raw liquid honey
- 3 teaspoons sweet almond oil
- 30 drops sweet orange essential oil*
- 20 drops lemon essential oil
Combine ingredients in an old body wash bottle or glass jar. Mix or shake to combine. Gently shake before each use. This recipe has a shelf life of up to one year!
*Sweet orange and lemon essential oils are energizing. For a calming blend try lavender and chamomile.
At the Co-op: HiBar Solid Shampoos, Camamu Shampoo Bars, Moon Valley Herbal Shampoo Bars, Acure Shampoo Bar
With such a variety to choose from, look for a shampoo that best suits your needs.
DIY: Basic Shampoo
- ¼ cup distilled water
- ¼ cup liquid castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s
- ½ tsp sweet almond or grapeseed oil
- Optional: 20-30 drops essential oils*
*Some winning combos include eucalyptus and tea tree, peppermint and tea tree, & sweet almond and lemon, but you can go with your favorite!
Combine ingredients in an old shampoo bottle or glass jar. Mix or shake to combine. Gently shake before each use. Use within 1 month.
DIY: Dry Shampoo
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- For red hair: 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- For brown hair: 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- For black hair: 2 tbsp activated charcoal powder (this is not available plastic free at the Co-op)
- For blonde, silver, or white hair: 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- Optional: 6 drops essential oil of choice
Combine ingredients in a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Apply to roots in between washes. Use a makeup brush or your fingers. Work through strands with a comb. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
At the Co-op: HiBar Solid Conditioners
HiBar Solid Conditioners come in three formulations: moisturize, volumize, and maintain. These bars are safe for treated or colored hair and are free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicone.
DIY: Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioning Rinse
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 16 oz water
- 16 oz spray bottle
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and gently shake. To use: spray shampooed hair with conditioner until hair is thoroughly saturated. If you have long hair you can pour about ¼ cup directly onto strands, avoiding your scalp. Rinsing is optional. If your hair is dry, rinse out and apply coconut oil to ends every 7-10 days.
*It’s always a good idea to test a small amount of any new product on your forearm to see how your skin reacts. Rub a small amount of product on skin and wait a few hours before using more.
It’s Plastic Free July and we’re taking the opportunity to talk about environmental racism and the disproportionate effects of plastic pollution on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. While environmental racism refers to the disproportionate effects of environmental hazards on people of color in general, this blog will focus on plastic consumption and pollution in relation to communities of color in the United States.
Greenaction, a grassroots environmental justice organization, defines environmental racism as, “the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race.” Environmental racism is caused by intentional neglect, a lack of institutional power, and low land values among low income communities of color.
As we discussed in our blog about the intersection of environmental, social, and economic sustainability, individuals and communities with privilege and power cannot afford to ignore social and economic sustainability in favor of environmental stewardship. It is through environmental, social, and economic justice that our communities will become safe and promote the wellbeing of everyone and especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, folks with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ people, poor people, incarcerated populations, migrant workers, and individuals experiencing homelessness.
Every part of a plastic’s journey from production to consumption to disposal negatively impacts communities of color. Plastics start underground, approximately 1-2 miles below the surface, as fossil fuels like natural gas and oil. In order to get natural gas to the surface, companies drill into the ground and inject a mix of water and chemicals into the rock. This forces the natural gas upward in a process known as fracking.
Fracking sites pose a serious health risk to neighboring communities. In addition to drilling through or near groundwater reserves and improper wastewater disposal, fracking releases dangerous chemicals into the air. A 2016 study from the American Journal of Public Health found a correlation between the proximity of fracking wastewater disposal sites and the proportion of people of color living in that area of Texas. A study from 2018 found that Pennsylvania power plants (coal, oil, and natural gas) are disproportionately located near marginalized communities with lower incomes, lower education levels, higher economic stress, and/or more people of color. In Pennsylvania, the asthma hospitalization rate for Black children is 5 times higher than white children. Latinx children were hospitalized at rates 3 times higher than white children. In fact, Black people across the country are exposed to more air pollution than white folks. According to research from 2019, Black people bear a “pollution burden” of 56% (excess exposure compared to consumption).
Formosa Plastics is currently lobbying to build a refining center on the banks of the Mississippi in St. James Parish in Louisiana where 87% of residents are Black. You can donate to RISE St. James to help the community protect itself.
Oil and natural gas pipelines similarly impact BIPOC communities. Indigenous activists are calling for an end to pipeline projects which threaten water safety and sovereignty. Pipelines can leak slowly over time or rupture, polluting land, air, and water with highly volatile compounds. While the number of these kinds of incidents has decreased since 1996, the number of major incidents has increased. Major incidents involve serious injury, death, fires, and explosions. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and childhood leukemia are serious health concerns for communities near pipelines. You can read more about pipelines here.
Once raw materials are turned into plastics, they are aggressively marketed to low income communities of color and sold at disproportionately low prices. This is possible because plastic refining corporations receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies (in fact, plastic production is subsidized every step of the way). Low prices keep demand for plastics high. Non-BIPOC consumption of plastic harms communities of color as well. In addition to endangering communities living near production facilities, buying plastics gives more political power to the fossil fuel industries and does nothing to combat how the industry treats its BIPOC workers or communities that host production facilities.
An April 2021 survey of energy sector employees from across the country found that Latinx and Black folks are underrepresented in the fossil fuels and that 8 out of 10 white employees surveyed described themselves as supervisors or having leadership roles. White energy sector workers also reported higher overall career satisfaction than any other racial or ethnic group. Black employees noted prejudice and racial bias as the biggest challenge in the workplace.
BIPOC communities are also chosen as landfill and incineration sites for plastic disposal, both of which endanger the health of those living nearby. According to Denise Patel, U.S. Program Director at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, 79% of municipal solid waste incinerator facilities are located near BIPOC communities. These sites release heavy metals like lead and mercury directly into the air. Water contaminated by landfills leaches into groundwater and runoff can harm local waterways, water sources, and recreation spaces. The Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown, AL accepts waste from 33 states including toxic coal ash. The neighboring town is 90% Black and residents have reported increases in cancer, respiratory diseases, and mental health issues. Residents filed a Title VI Civil Rights complaint with the EPA, which was dismissed in 2018. State courts, federal agencies, and the company that owns the landfill have repeatedly failed the residents of Uniontown, whose median household income is about $15,000.
When asked how we can improve our waste management systems to mitigate the disproportionate burden BIPOC communities bear, Denise Patel answered, “From a solutions perspective, I think there is an incredible opportunity to allow EJ (environmental justice) and BIPOC communities to lead and inform policy.” Supporting the work of environmental justice organizations with monetary donations is one way to ensure BIPOC voices are leading this conversation. You can also use less plastic! Small changes make a big difference. Thanks to our community’s participation in Plastic Free July, the Co-op sold 7,000 more plastic-free products in July 2020 than July 2019. Here are tips about going plastic free on a budget, plastic free recipes, and tips on shopping plastic free at the Co-op.
Find the full list of organization you can donate to here.
In honor of Pride Month and in solidarity with our LGBTQIA+ and QTPOC community members, the Davis Food Co-op has donated $500 to the Sacramento Gender Health Center, a QTPOC-led nonprofit working to end systematic oppression and pathologization of transgender people and racism while centering the wellness of queer and transgender people of color. The SGHC is currently asking for donations to help cover the cost of their facilities upgrade, which includes moving to a more accessible space and upgrading furniture. We invite our community to join us in supporting the SGHC and our QTPOC family, friends, and community members.
Pride Month wouldn’t exist without queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC). More specifically, it wouldn’t exist without queer and trans people of color fighting back against police brutality. If this is news to you, read about the history of Pride below!
Note that while there are Pride celebrations all over the world, this blog will focus on the history of queer activism in the United States.
Pride is, and always has been, political. If you’re somewhat familiar with the history of Pride, you might know that the riots at the Stonewall Inn, which occurred from June 28th to July 3rd, 1969, are the impetus for the Pride events we know today. But Stonewall was not the first modern queer political action. The Society for Human Rights received its charter on December 24th, 1924 in Chicago, making it the oldest documented gay organization in the country. The organization was led by German activist Henry Gerber and African American clergyman John T. Graves. One of the Society’s goals was to advocate for shorter prison sentences for gay men arrested and convicted under obscenity laws. The Society collapsed just a year later when Gerber was unjustly arrested for “strange doings”. Although the charges were eventually dropped, the Society dismantled as Gerber was unable to support it financially after exhausting his savings to legal fees. Queer organizations like the Society for Human Rights remained a part of public life, but with varying visibility. The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were active throughout the 1950s.
The 1960s were marked by calls to end violence and injustice suffered by marginalized communities throughout the United States. The civil rights movement in combination with fervent efforts to overturn Jim Crow laws are most commonly associated with the decade of reform, but communities fought for women’s rights, the abolishment of police brutality, and an end to the Vietnam War as well. Queer folks were regularly arrested for having consensual sex, kissing in public, gathering at bars, or for simply existing if they looked queer. Moreover, queerness was classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. “Homosexuality” would remain a diagnosable disorder until 1973 (this history of using the term “homosexual” in conjuction with pathologizing queerness is one of the reasons why we don’t use “homosexual” to describe gays and lesbians anymore). This is the context out of which several key queer political actions were born.
The Cooper Donuts Uprising took place at Cooper Donuts in Los Angeles in 1959, ten years before Stonewall. At the time, it was illegal for a person’s gender expression to differ from the sex listed on their ID, which meant that trans folks were often the target of police harrassment. For this reason many gay bars banned or discouraged trans folks from entering. Cooper Donuts was open to many members of the queer community and was often a target for police raids. Two police officers arrested two drag queens, two male sex workers, and a gay man after asking to see IDs. As they were being arrested, patrons took to throwing whatever they could including coffee, donuts, and trash, to push back against the unjust police harassment. Police fled before making any arrests and returned with backup and a blockade to arrest the folks who were now calling for an end to police harassment in the streets.
In 1966, patrons of Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco’s Tenderloin rioted after a police officer attempted to arrest a drag queen for cross dressing. She threw a cup of coffee in his face which sparked the uprising. Leading up to the rebellion, police used any excuse (e.g. obstructing the sidewalk) to arrest Compton’s queer customer base which was largely made up of drag queens, sex workers, and trans women of color. After the riot, Comtpon’s banned trans women from entering, but not without resistance in the form of a pickett line and smashed windows from the Tenderloin’s queer community.
LA’s Black Cat Tavern was a popular bar for Southern California’s queer community and often the target of police raids. On New Year’s in 1967 several undercover officers began beating and arresting patrons celebrating the New Year with kisses. Police arrested fourteen people for assault and public lewdness. On February 11th, 200 people protested the arrests with civil demonstrations in public. The Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE) group and the Southern California Council on Religion and Homophile organized the effort. No rioting took place, despite armed squadrons of police officers meeting protestors. These instances of queer political action and liberation, largely at the hands of QTPOC, would pave the way for Stonewall and the larger queer liberation movement.
The Stonewall Uprising in New York City is perhaps the most salient example of civil rights era activism and revolutionary tactics influencing the gay liberation movement. There are so many contradictory and inconsistent accounts of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969, but we do know that police launched a violent raid on the Christohper Street bar targeting drag queens, trans folks, and gay men, the majority of whom were Black or brown. The arrests were met with resistance from Stonewall’s patrons and sparked 6 days of protests against police brutality. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black activist and performer who described herself as “gay,” “transvestite,” and a “drag queen,” is often associated with the uprising. Sylvia Rivera, a brown trans woman, also led protests on Christopher Street. She participated in anti-war and Black liberation marches throughout the latter half of the 60s. Miss Major Griffin Gracy, another Black trans activist, also led actions throughout the riots. Storme DeLarverie, a biracial, lesbian drag performer is believed to have “thrown the first punch” when police first started making arrests. Countless QTPOC were involved in the protests, fighting for their autonomy, personhood, and freedom. Pushing back against unjust systems is the core of all of these uprisings and would remain the core of Pride.
One year after the Stonewall riots, Christopher Street Liberation Day attracted thousands of marchers calling for gay liberation with chants of “gay power!”. That march is considered the first New York City Pride Parade taking place on June 28th, 1970. Queer activism continued, with the Gay Activist’s Alliance, Gay Liberation Front, and Street Transvestive Action Revolutionaries (STAR) forming in the wake of Stonewall. The contributions of QTPOC continue to be minimized in favor of acknowledging the contributions of white activists. We’d like to specifically call attention to a few queer Black folks who pushed the movement forward during this time: Bayard Rustin, a key adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; writer, poet, and activist Audre Lorde; Ernestine Eckstein, a leader of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian and civil rights organization in the U.S.; Barbara Jordan, the first Black woman elected to the Texas Senate; writer and scholar Angela Davis; and author James Baldwin.
Changes in recent years
With these deep roots in political action, Pride has grown and spread all over the globe. Unfortunately, so has the influence of capitalism at Pride. The presence of corporate logos at Pride is particularly troublesome since some companies that pour money into Pride events don’t back up that support with any tangible action. For example, Google sponsored a 2020 Pride event in San Francisco, but refused to take action against LGBTQIA+ harassment on its YouTube platform (Google is now banned from that Pride event). As Pride moves away from a political agenda, some communities, like Black trans women, will be particularly vulnerable to violence by the state and the public. Be cautious of brands that adopt a rainbow logo, but don’t walk the walk when it comes to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. “Rainbow-washing” is ultimately harmful and dangerous, especially for queer and trans communities of color.
It is for similar reasons that the author of this blog, a straight white cisgender woman, asks other straight white cisgender folks to be mindful of queer spaces, especially at Pride. While I absolutely affirm that none of us can afford to not be allies, Pride isn’t a space for us to take center stage. Pride isn’t for us.
How we can support the QTPOC community
Despite diverse leadership and ground-level contributions by QTPOC, it is white cisgender gay men who have benefitted the most from achievements made in recent decades. This is because white supremacy pervades all levels of society and because our identities are inextricably tied to one another (i.e. race and queerness intersect). According to Mapping Violence, Black folks are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people, even though Black folks are 1.3 times less likely to be armed. Moreover, Black transgender women are at an even higher risk of fatal violence. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, more than one-fifth of transgender people who have interacted with the police reported harassment, and the rates are much higher for Black transgender individuals: 38% reported harassment, and 15% reported assault by officers. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found “that 57% of transgender people are afraid to go to the police for help largely due to the threat of being harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or misgendered—which is why the deaths of transgender people often go severely unreported.”
Giving to the Sacramento Gender Health Center is one way white folks and allies can serve the QTPOC community. Knowing that our institutions will not protect this community means we must support queer and transgender people of color through collective, community action. Being actively anti-racist by calling out racism when you see and hear it is essential. Supporting the work of the SGHC is something real you can do right now. Volunteering with the Sacramento LGBT Center is something else you can do. You can also read this article about Black queer love and (in)visibility. Patronizing LGBTQIA+ and QTPOC businesses and artists is another way to provide tangible support to the community.
In addition to donating to the SGHC, sponsoring Davis Pride, and collecting Round Up funds for the Davis Phoenix Coalition, the Co-op will continue to work to make our community more accessible and safe for the LGBTQIA+ and QTPOC community. We’re excited to announce the addition of pronouns on staff name tags coming this summer. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog all about why we’re making this change.
Welcome to the Co-op, Flying V!
Flying V Farm is a new Davis Food Co-op vendor, thanks to the help of Kitchen Table Advisors. Flying V is a certified organic worker-owned farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, just 60 miles from the Co-op. They work together to produce food in a way that nourishes our community, stewards the land, and empowers workers. They strive for a more socially and ecologically just rural economy by practicing worker-ownership and collective care.
Flying V delivers their produce to us in clean, reusable tubs. This helps cut costs and waste for both of us. We snapped this pic on Friday, when Flying V delivered their first batch of produce to us! We received gorgeous beets, little gem lettuce heads, and more.
Meet the Team
Lucy O’Dea – harvest, sales & events manager
Cody Curtis — field, perennials, & site manager
Katie Lewis — assistant field manager
On the evening of December 31st, 1862, Black Americans gathered in homes, churches, and community spaces awaiting the New Year which would bring with it the freedom outlined in the Emancipation Proclamation. Black Americans, enslaved and free, called that night “Freedom’s Eve.” Frederick Douglas said, “We shout for joy that we live to record this righteous decree.” Since then, generations of Black Americans have lived and died, existing in a liminality between slave and citizen. While Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery, white supremacy and systemic racism continue to oppress, disenfranchise, and imprison Black Americans. We affirm, once again, that Black Lives Matter and ask our community to be actively anti-racist and fight for Black citizenship, personhood, and wellbeing on this Juneteenth and always.
The first Juneteenth
On January 1st, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved folks in Confederate states, at least on paper. About 500,000 of 3.9 million enslaved people were able to liberate themselves by escaping behind Union lines between 1863 and the end of the war in 1865. The rest – the vast majority – remained enslaved. The Emancipation Proclamation also authorized Black men to join the Union army. These men would be crucial to the Union’s war effort, especially as Northern forces swept through Confederate territory liberating enslaved populations. After the Proclamation was issued, slave owners in Mississippi and Louisiana marched more than 150,000 enslaved Black people west to Texas, beyond the reach of Union forces at the time. Texas remained under Confederate control until the spring of 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. On June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Major General Gordon Granger announced:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
This is the day we celebrate as Juneteenth (“June” plus “nineteenth”), the day freedom came to those enslaved folks still living under Confederate control in Texas, at least symbolically. Granger’s announcement asks the newly freed people to “remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages,” which exemplifies how ending slavery and upholding white supremacy can completely coexist, almost in the very same sentence.
The freed people of Texas continued to commemorate the ending of slavery each June 19th. They celebrated near lakes and rivers with a large, central barbecue pit and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation. When Black people were barred from celebrating in public spaces, they raised money to buy Emancipation Park in Houston and Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia. Celebrants dressed in their finest clothes, however poor, to push back against racist characterizations by white folks. Juneteenth celebrations endured through times of extreme violence as well. Between 1885 and 1942, Texas lynch mobs brutally murdered at least 339 Black folks, mostly men. While newspapers failed to report the violence and history texts rewrote the story of the Civil War, Juneteenth endured. In Hayes Turner’s words, Juneteenth is “a potent life-giving event … a joyful retort to messages of overt racism … a public counter-demonstration to displays of Confederate glorification and a counter-memory to the valorization of the Lost Cause.”
Between 1916 and 1970, half of the southern Black population, nearly 6 million people, migrated north and west to escape segregation, widespread lynching, and a lack of social and economic opportunities in the Jim Crow South. This movement northward is known as the Great Migration. Black Texans took Junetheenth with them. Starting in the 1920s, Black communities celebrated in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle in the west.
Juneteenth was bolstered once again when civil rights organizers of the Poor People’s March told delegates to take Juneteenth back to their communities. After 1968, Juneteenth took root in the Midwest. From there, it spread to nearly every state. In 1979, Texas made Juneteenth an official holiday (the state government also affirmed its commitment to celebrating June 19th as Confederate Heroes Day). California recognized the holiday in 2003. Today, 45 states and Washington DC recognize Juneteenth.
This week, the Senate unanimously approved a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. The House also approved the bill, but with 14 no votes from Republican representatives including two from California. President Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday afternoon, making Juneteenth Independence Day the eleventh federal holiday.
Structural oppression & a joyful retort
The 13th Amendment, officially ending slavery, was ratified on December 6th, 1865, 5 months after Texas’ enslaved population was freed. The full text of section 1 reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Many Black scholars have traced a line from the exception clause (bolded in the text above by the author of this blog) to mass incarceration rates among Black men in the US today (Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th explores this connection deeply; it’s available on Netflix). Black Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of white Americans. That means one out of every three Black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison, compared to 1 out 6 Latinx boys and one out of 17 white boys.This is white supremacy at work. Slavery, sharecropping, segregation, lynching, police brutality, and mass incarceration are all iterations of deeply systemic racism upheld at every level of society by white supremacy.
Today, more than one out of every six black men who should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life, according to the NAACP criminal justice fact sheet. Incarceration and early death are the leading causes. For those that are released from incarceration, nearly 50,000 legal restrictions block access to work, housing, and educational opportunities in this country. These barriers to re-entry lead to high recidivism rates, plaguing communities of color. Planting Justice, an organization based in Oakland, works to heal communities suffering from mass incarceration. They’ve built over 550 edible permaculture gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area, worked with five high-schools to develop food justice curricula and created over 40 green jobs in the food justice movement for people transitioning from prison. They have created a movement that centers sovereignty and healing around food, around sticking your hands in the earth and bringing forth life for whole communities.
The Davis Food Co-op is supporting their work with a $500 donation in commemoration of Juneteenth. This donation will support their Holistic Re-Entry program, which provides permaculture garden training to folks inside San Quentin State Prison, offers meaningful work and a living wage when they’re released, and prioritizes the health and wellbeing of formerly incarcerated persons and their communities in the Bay Area. We plan to continue to support organizations like Planting Justice with monetary donations. As mentioned in our Racism and Bigotry blog, redistributing resources, especially money, to organizations for and by the BIPOC community is one way to be actively anti-racist. We invite you to join us in supporting Planting Justice, which continues the project of Juneteenth in our community through building food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing.