Cal’s “Affirmative Action Bake Sale”: I want my free cookies.

by Guest Contributor Adrienne Keene, originally published at Native Appropriations

AA Bakesale

[Last week,] 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:

    White: $2.00
    Asian: $1.50
    Latino: $1.00
    Black: $.75
    Native American: $.25
    $.25 discount for women

Screenshot from TV news

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.

(Thanks MK, Kayla, Caroline, and Olga!)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650113834 Robert Jones Jr

    Heh. Their math is off, though. They forgot to include the white male discount for Legacy Admissions. And they also failed to take this into consideration:

    http://laist.com/2011/09/09/study_shows_white_kids_are_getting.php

  • Anonymous

    White people should be priced below Asian americans. Everyone knows whites mostly score lower than Asians. Without affirmative action, white enrollment would dip. How misleading to have whites paying $2.00(the highest price). 

  • k.eli

    I find it funny how these campus republicans have absolutely no qualms about students who get admitted to college simply because mommy and daddy went there or others who get in simply because they’re rich and/or famous (yes, I’m looking at you, NYU). They don’t seem to rail against the inherent unfairness of colleges putting such a high amount of weight behind standardized test scores when the schools in this country are not themselves standardized. Why should they? All of these discriminatory measures only help people like them. So I guess it’s only natural for them to protest the one measure that doesn’t put them on a pedestal.

    In high school we once had a “debate” in my US history class on the legitimacy of affirmative action. Given that my class (much like the school) was overwhelmingly white (and I was its token black person), I’m sure you can figure out how the conversation went. One of my classmates made the oh-so-astute observation that affirmative action was racist against white people. It was then that I realized that the controversy of it was deeply rooted in the differing experiences and viewpoints between POC and white people. In the latter’s mind, affirmative action takes away spots from qualified white people and gives them to unqualified POC. It never once crosses their mind that perhaps the program was created to take spots away from unqualified white people and give them to qualified POC who were previously denied admittance simply because of their ethnicity/skin color/national origin/etc.

    • http://profiles.google.com/mikevagoisawesome Mike Vago

      Not all white people have that view of affirmative action, or willfully misunderstand the need for it.  But there is a significant percentage of the white population who think things are only “fair” if things are slanted in their favor.  We call them Republicans.

    • http://profiles.google.com/mikevagoisawesome Mike Vago

      Not all white people have that view of affirmative action, or willfully misunderstand the need for it.  But there is a significant percentage of the white population who think things are only “fair” if things are slanted in their favor.  We call them Republicans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13305872 Robin Margolis

    The bottom line for me is that this play from the conservative movement continues to be effective. Not only is it not a new idea, it’s also often fed to young conservatives on campuses by the larger infrastructure set up just to nurture and develop conservative leaders (which Jack Abramoff, Karl Rove, and Grover Norquist all went through).

    And yet this kind of stunt can still pull national coverage from mainstream media and progressive+radical news sources.

  • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

    I live in the Bay Area and this story was covered wall to wall without context by the local media hacks. The only thing that kept popping in my head regarding this was how could these people with no understanding of racial oppression in American have gotten into Cal. And then I thought legacies!

    • Nightsky

      Not for Cal, I don’t think–they didn’t do legacies when I applied, anyway. This was 15 years ago, but they’re still a state school and I still don’t think they do legacies.

      • nifty_lobster

        State schools do not usually have explicit legacy policies. State schools don’t care that your parents attended the school… however, if your family attended and donated lots of money you will get (very) preferential treatment.
        My greatgrandfather left a large sum of wealth to his Law School (a state school) when he passed. A large enough sum that should I choose to apply my grades and test scores would not matter.

      • nifty_lobster

        State schools do not usually have explicit legacy policies. State schools don’t care that your parents attended the school… however, if your family attended and donated lots of money you will get (very) preferential treatment.
        My greatgrandfather left a large sum of wealth to his Law School (a state school) when he passed. A large enough sum that should I choose to apply my grades and test scores would not matter.

        • Anonymous

          No one has an “explicit” legacy policy but when the lawsuit was filed against the University of Michigan, it was in fact revealed that having a legacy with the school did in fact give you a “bump.”   A legacy policy is something that is implied.  They used a formula as did the Cal schools for many years, and at Michigan definitely got extra “points” for being related to alumni.  It is true that at some schools, the admissions rate for legacies is SEVERAL times higher than it is for the general population (so a school that has a 7% admit rate might have legacies getting in at a rate or 25-50%).
          You should pretty much assume that if a school’s application asks you about who else in your family attended, it is something that they consider.  They aren’t just asking to take up space on the application.

          The same statement you made about the state school(regarding large donations) is true at the Ivies.  If my mom or dad went to Yale but just went on to become a “regular” alum, then the “bump” that I get from being a legacy is not as significant as if my last name is Bush or Kerry.  But I will get a bump nonetheless.

        • Anonymous

          No one has an “explicit” legacy policy but when the lawsuit was filed against the University of Michigan, it was in fact revealed that having a legacy with the school did in fact give you a “bump.”   A legacy policy is something that is implied.  They used a formula as did the Cal schools for many years, and at Michigan definitely got extra “points” for being related to alumni.  It is true that at some schools, the admissions rate for legacies is SEVERAL times higher than it is for the general population (so a school that has a 7% admit rate might have legacies getting in at a rate or 25-50%).
          You should pretty much assume that if a school’s application asks you about who else in your family attended, it is something that they consider.  They aren’t just asking to take up space on the application.

          The same statement you made about the state school(regarding large donations) is true at the Ivies.  If my mom or dad went to Yale but just went on to become a “regular” alum, then the “bump” that I get from being a legacy is not as significant as if my last name is Bush or Kerry.  But I will get a bump nonetheless.