Through all the controversial debate surrounding the discriminatory bake sale, writer urges naysayers to take a look at bigger picture.
By Jessie Wong
What’s your flavor: red velvet, creamy chocolate, or French vanilla? For UC Berkeley students the only color that mattered was the one on your skin. Well, sort of.
There were protests in response to the racist bake sale at UC Berkeley. Some argued for SB 185 and others against.
The point was to raise awareness
and get a message across. And in this writer’s opinion, the members of the university’s College Republicans did just that.
Gov. Jerry Brown seemed to receive the message loud and clear as he vetoed Senate Bill 185 on Saturday. It was a bill that would have allowed public universities to consider one’s race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, and other relevant factors in their admissions process.
According to The Daily Californian, Shawn Lewis, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, issued a statement supporting Brown’s decision to veto the bill, stating that college admissions decisions should be based on “the qualifications of the applicant and the individual challenges he or she has faced” rather than race.
But it all started with a little bake sale.
The now infamous “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” held last month involved cupcakes and cookies sold at different prices according to the buyer’s race:
- $2 for white students
- $1.50 for Asian students
- $1 for Latinos
- 75 cents for African Americans
- 25 cents for Native Americans
And of course, all women received a 25-cent discount.
Yes, it was a racist bake sale. I don’t think anyone is denying that. But those that decried it missed the whole point of the bake sale.
“We agree that the event is inherently racist, but that is the point,” Lewis wrote in response as reported by CNN. “It is no more racist than giving an individual an advantage in college admissions based solely on their race (or) gender.”
The racism in the sale clearly parallels the racism in the controversial and discriminatory state bill.
Regardless of your position on affirmative action, the amount of anger and hurt feelings over this bake sale was overblown and unjustified. University campuses, especially one as liberal and tolerant as Berkeley, are supposed to be bastions of free speech even if the stance is in the minority.
There was no need for Associated Students to gather in an emergency meeting and condemn the use of discriminatory methods for all occasions. This sent the message that students are unable to freely voice their opinions and share in deep and provocative discourse.
If deep and provocative discussion isn’t safe in the academic atmosphere of college life, where is it safe?
The College Republicans did not obstruct anyone’s way or physically harm anyone.
So, why did this story pick up so much press? The idea of hosting “bake sales” to prove a point certainly wasn’t unprecedented. Bake sales have been used on other college campuses to make a political argument or stir up public discussion.
And this sale was a piece of cake compared to other more radical protests at the top teaching and research university.
Everybody needs to take a step back and examine the bigger picture. The story isn’t about race and a petty bake sale, but the construction of race and its role in a piece of legislation that threatens to reinstate affirmative action in California.
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