Red velvet cake was a must growing up in my house. It was the cake of choice for graduations, birthdays, you name it. I just baked one. What are we celebrating? Juneteenth! Juneteenth has always been an important part of my tapestry as a Black woman who is descended from enslaved people in this country. Some Black people call it “Black Independence Day,” since it’s the day that the Emancipation Proclamation was read to enslaved people in the most far fetched part of the former Confederacy, some two years after they had in effect, been emancipated. Why red velvet cake? Because the color red is very important symbolically in Juneteenth celebrations, most notably (in my eyes), representing resiliency.
Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth for generations with BBQs, family reunions, parades all of which included the consumption of a red food or drink. We are celebrating in my household and I decided the culinary centerpiece of our celebration would be a red velvet cake. While icing it, I listened to a podcast about Juneteenth, thinking about how far we have come as a country, but also about how far we still have to go. Today in general is shaping up to be one with a lot of deep reflection and revisiting, and I know that this will continue long after the last bite of sweet, red, symbolic goodness has been consumed.
Happy Juneteenth to everybody celebrating, I hope it’s comforting, tasty and reminds you of your resilience.