When Fresh Departments Buyer Aiesha Babu (she/her) was growing up in the Twin Cities, she used to go to a large Juneteenth celebration in St. Paul. It was an event that centered the Black community in a city where those were few and far between. “Being around Blackness is awesome,” Aiesha says, recalling the St. Paul celebrations that commemorated Black liberation and facilitated Black joy. “We don’t have a lot of safe spaces, so on Juneteenth, whether you go to events or you’re around family, you’re able to embrace and be celebrated for who you are.”
Now, Aiesha’s Juneteenth tradition involves gathering with family and friends outdoors for a barbeque. The potluck– which, for her family, typically features greens with smoked turkey, salmon, ribs, mac and cheese, and more–always ends with everyone talking about what they’re appreciative of, both personally and in community. It’s about “uplifting each other,” Aiesha says.