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Back to December Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 311 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS DECEMBER 2011

"Racist Bake Sale" Highlights Affirmative Action Dangers
U.C. Berkeley's College Republicans (BCR) drew national attention when they hosted a bake sale on September 27. The "Increase Diversity Bake Sale" advertised baked goods priced according to each buyer's race and gender. Cupcakes and cookies were sold to white men for $2, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1, black men for 75 cents, and Native American men for 25 cents. Women of all races were offered an additional 25 cent discount.
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The sale, which was carried out peacefully despite the fact that many of the organizers had been threatened with violence before the event, caused quite a stir on campus and in the media. Associated Students of the University of California President Vishalli Loomba spoke for many U.C. Berkeley students when she said, "As a woman of color, when I first saw the event, I was appalled . . . not only a different pay structure, but also to rank the races. It trivializes the struggles that people have been through and their histories."

Students weren't the only people to turn out for the high-profile event. Long time anti-affirmative action activist Ward Connerly joined the BCR's table in support of the bake sale. Other attendees included Michael Delacour, a local liberal activist and veteran of the 1969 People's Park riots in Berkeley. Mr. Delacour reportedly tried to block the BCR's table for a full hour, all the while insisting "I am an elder! You must respect me!"

Berkeley College Republicans president Shawn Lewis admitted that the sale would offend some, and pointed out that, while students were rightly taken aback by his group's satirical sale, they ought to direct their outrage at the parallel results of the passing of California Senate Bill 185, which was then awaiting Governor Jerry Brown's signature.

SB 185 would have authorized the University of California and the California State University to consider factors including race, sex, and ethnicity in the college admissions process. Such considerations have been illegal since 1996, when Proposition 209 amended the state constitution to prevent affirmative action measures. Governor Brown vetoed the bill on October 8, but not without acknowledging his support for the spirit of the measure:

"I wholeheartedly agree with the goal of this legislation . . . [However] Our constitutional system of separation of powers requires that the courts — not the Legislature — determine the limits of Proposition 209 . . . Signing this bill is unlikely to impact how Proposition 209 is ultimately interpreted by the courts; it will just encourage the 209 advocates to file more costly and confusing lawsuits."

Similar bake sales have taken place in the past at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, The College of William and Mary in Virginia, the University of California, Irvine, and at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

 
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