Yesterday, UC Berkeley’s College Republicans Chapter decided to have an “Affirmative Action Bakesale” to protest a new bill that has been introduced into the CA legistlature that would reverse parts of Prop 209, which in 1996 banned the use of race as a factor in admissions decisions in the UC system.
The premise of the bake sale is not new, and has definitely been used on other college campuses. The basic idea is that there is different pricing for different racial groups, as follows:
Native American: $.25
$.25 discount for women
The pricing implies that standards are lower for non-whites and women, and that the (poor, innocent!) White males are just royally screwed by the whole system. But you know what I see from that pricing? I GET FREE SNACKS. (I joke, I joke)
I’ll let the illustrious Tim Wise breakdown why this is so stupid (as if you needed an explanation):
Tim Wise, author of the book “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son,” calls the bake sale a “sarcastic and rather smarmy slap at people of color.”
“There are a lot of ways to make a point about your disagreement with affirmative action,”
“I get the joke,” he continued. “How very original. It’s been done for 15 years. The point that I think needs to be made … is that by the time anyone steps on a college campus … there has already been 12- to 13-years of institutionalized affirmative action for white folks, that is to say, racially embedded inequality, which has benefited those of us who are white. And it’s only at the point of college admissions that these folks seem to get concerned with color consciousness.”
So we’re clear why this was a silly publicity stunt. But what about those girls in the picture above wearing headdresses? They decided to be “cute” and pretend to be Native American women and get free cookies.
You can hear from them in their own words at this video here. But the gist of what they say is:
“This bake sale trivializes the issue of affirmative action, so we thought to show our opinion of the bake sale, we would trivialize their opinion.”
Um, that doesn’t even make sense. At all. In the words of my friend Kayla (a Native UC Berkeley student):
Even if anti-bake sale, [this] makes no sense to me, since the next logical step ought to have been “maybe we ought not to trivialize Native American (women) with stereotypical headdresses”
Amen. Basically this whole thing was a big mess, and got far more attention than it deserved. There were several counter-protests, and even a table selling “Magical Costco Muffins” with different prices for Muggles and Wizards, but the bottom line is that, clearly, the College Republicans of UC Berkeley have no grasp of historical context, current systems of institutional racism and inequality, or their own blinding privilege.