BCR's Diversity Bake Sale: A Counter-Strike against Real Racism

Posted by 비회원
2011. 10. 6. 17:06 CAL/Episode/비화
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." -Martin Luther King Jr.

At what point does the prevention of racism and the insistence on equality take upon itself the oxymoronic form of racism by deploying racist measures to enforce equality? Although the US has definitely made drastic progress since the years of the Ku Klux Klan and the Civil Rights Movement, in an effort to prevent the issue of race in society, the government is now on the verge of choosing the racist bill, California Bill SB 185, a very politically correct way to go about a very politically incorrect business. 

What then is California Bill SB 185?

SB 185 authorizes the consideration of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, and other "relevant" factors into all undergraduate and graduate admissions for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. The bill would also mandate both university systems to report to the Legislature and Governor concerning those factors as to how many students of each color and background were admitted into each university. The report would then be reviewed and compared with admissions from past years.

Though not mentioned within the bill, the reason behind the considerations and reporting of these factors in admissions would be to assign an implicit status quo of racial diversity into the universities. Of course, the universities are not explicitly required to admit a defined number of students from a certain race or ethnicity. The fact that the government would be looking at the ethnic placement of admissions, however, implies that the government would enforce diversity by making claims of racial discrimination in the universities' admissions processes if a certain number wasn't reached, inevitably forcing the universities to put higher priority on students of color in comparison to the supposed 'majority' students (White/Asian).

Of course, on the cover this seems to be a success for the promotion of racial diversity in public education. However, students would no longer be accepted solely on the basis of their scholastic accomplishments or social achievements in their high schools, community colleges, or other universities as they should, but rather, many students would be accepted on the basis of their status as minorities. Therefore, in the process of trying to be less racist by creating racial diversity, the bill justifies racism by allowing racial preferences. 

Here, I would like to bring emphasis to the quote above by the charismatic leader of the Civil Rights movement himself, Martin Luther King, Jr: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Does SB 185 uphold this extremely clear-cut statement? No, in fact, Mr. King is probably spazzing in his grave right now.

What has the majority done wrong to be wrongfully discriminated against in the admissions process?
Giving a disadvantage to students because they are White or Asian, or even for being born a male is considered being "racist" and even "sexist." 

Berkeley College Republicans' Diversity Bake Sale: Why the Fuss?

On September 28, 2011, the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley initiated a phone bank to encourage students to call California Governor Jerry Brown in support of the proposed bill SB 185. To oppose the phone bank, the Berkeley College Republicans scheduled at exacly the same time, a "diversity bake sale" in which baked goods were sold at different prices to people of different ethnicities.

  • White/Caucasian $2.00
  • Asian/Asian-American $1.50
  • Latino/Hispanic $1.00
  • Black/African-American $0.75
  • Native American $0.25 
    All women receive a $0.25 discount

With this principle in mind, a White Male would be paying the maximum amount of $2.00, an Asian Female would be paying $1.25, while a Native American Woman would be paying nothing for baked goods. Very racist indeed, but a straightforward and parallel example of how racial discrimination would work in the admissions process, giving favors to the racial and gender minority over the majority. 

Sparks flew over the event after the BCR created an event page on Facebook urging students to support the cause. Many people responded to the cause in a negative light calling it "racist." Some commentors claimed that they would overturn BCR's bake sale table, others mentioned that they would purchase their products with the sole purpose of throwing them at the members of the BCR. Comment violence ranged from debate to outright threats. On the day of the threat, protestors gathered in mass demonstrating their views against the bake sale. Their one and only point was that the bake sale was racist. It was racist, but it was not blatantly so — it was racist with a purpose. It was a satire (where shortcomings or mistakes are brought to a point of exaggeration to bring ridicule or shame to a particular thing, idea, or event).

Satire has existed since the earliest ages of civilization. More information can be found on Wikipedia. In this article, I would only like to bring attention to one satirical writer in particular: Jonathan Swift and his work "A Modest Proposal." To briefly summarize the background and the content of the essay, Ireland had been captured by England. The Irish were being treated like trash by the English. Jonathan Swift comes up with a simple proposition- farm the Irish children and export them. Swift suggests that since the Irish children grow into a society that will only exploit and ridicule them anyways, save them the trouble and make them useful by selling the Irish babies as gourmet food. This would not only raise the wealth of the nation, but would also diminieirsh the Irish population, while also creating amazing food products (since human babies are said to be extremely delicious). Was Swift honestly encouraging cannibalism in England? Definitely NO. Swift, through satire, was emphasizing the extent of which England had been treating its Irish neighbors in order to persuade them to reveal a deep societal issue. Through his satire, he encouraged social change in England in favor of Ireland.

Through their exaggeration of racial preferencing applied in their baked goods menu, the BCR brings attention to the racial preferences that are present in SB 185. Not only does it mock the ridiculousness of the bill itself, as satire, it brings awareness to the issue at hand. This writer personally, had no knowledge of SB 185 until he heard about the Bake Sale. The BCR's event not only sparked awareness concerning SB 185, it also raised awareness and sparked debate concerning the issue-a total success as far as satire goes.

Personal opinions on "Reverse-racism"

Obviously, this writer is not in favor of SB 185, and also whole-heartedly approves of the method used by the Berkeley College Republicans. My approval of the method does not come merely because I am against SB 185, but as I have listed above, whether or not I approve of SB 185, the fact that the bake sale has succeeded as satire is clear. What I would like to now further expand upon is the concept of reverse-racism. SB 185 is a typical example of "reverse-racism." In an effort to fight racism, those who feel that they are victims reverse racism with racism. 

Every aspiring student dreams of going to a great college. It is true, however, that we live in a dysfunctional democratic society in which we are all born under different circumstances. Some are born rich, some poor, and many in between. However, this is the society in which we live. We do not live in a communist society, we live in a capitalist one (assuming pure communism, since even in modern communist societies many are born poor or rich), and these things are inevitable. Many supporters of the SB 185 link these circumstances in life with race, claiming that the society in which they live prevent them from getting them into a good college or university. The numbers they claim to justify the bill is concerning the diversity of American high school graduates and the enormous difference found in the diversity of students admitted into the big universities. 

High school graduates:

  • White: 30%
  • Asian: 10%
  • Latino/Hispanic: 43%
  • African-American: 7% 
College Admissions:

  • Asian: 36%
  • Latino/Hispanic: 26%
  • African-American: 4%

What are the supporters of SB 185 alarmed at? The fact that more Asians are getting into colleges? Should there be less Asians that get accepted into universities? 

Perhaps, Asians just try harder than some of the other races to live the American dream? SB 185 practically says "Screw you!" to the Asian mothers and fathers that break their backs for their children, living in poverty while sending their children to the most expensive tutors, academies, and schools they can find. The government is in essence telling them that all the work that they do to get their students into good schools are worth nothing since we want our African-American students and our Latino students to get into schools more than we want your Asian children. We just simply have too many of you in our schools, and therefore we will stop you from coming by preferring the other races over you. 

I believe with education, getting into a good school is mostly about how much time and money is invested in it. Some pay large sums of money to hire the best tutors and schools around, while others take extra time to study instead of gaming, partying, and whatever else there is to do in life. If you don't have the money, you focus on time. If you don't have the time, you use the money. If you can do both, that's great. What SB 185 would do is just condone a pity party that since I was born in this society and I couldn't help myself, I should be able to go into a good college since I didn't have what they worked hard to get. 

Especially in America, the options are limitless. All students are given opportunities to get into a great college and work for a promising career. I also come from a lower middle class family. I didn't have the necessary resources to afford an expensive education and instead studied hard. I went to community college, maintained a 3.96 GPA, two years later walked proudly into UC Berkeley as a student, and eventually graduated with a B.A. in 2011. A Native American lady friend of mine from my hometown also came to UC Berkeley with me in the same year. Her family was of a lower financial status than I, but by grants and scholarships given to her by the government, she was able to successfully graduate and we walked across the graduation platform together. My friend and I did not seek preferential treatment because we came from a community college that only sent out about a dozen or so students to top tier colleges. We did not seek preferential treatment for being of a lower financial status, but we still made it.

Stories like this abound. Nanette Asimov in her article "'Racist' bake sale at UC draws Angry Protest" in the SF Gate reports a quote from Chris Maldonado, a chemical engineering student who in an interview after the purchase of a baked item said, "I'm the son of two poor immigrants from Guatemala. Yes, there exists a disadvantage, but if you put the emphasis on education, you will get an education. Me and my two brothers are proof of that." Students who are serious about their education, will work their way to the top. Instead, 

Ricci v DeStefano 2009. In 2003, The New Haven Fire Department issued a promotion test to firefighters. Among the 119 firefighters, 19 White firefighters and 1 Hispanic firefighter scored grades high enough to be considered for promotions. Unfortunately, for the firefighters who received high grades, New Haven invalidated the test for fear of being sued for being racially biased against minorities. Obviously, the firefighters who had earned their promotions lost them. In turn, Frank Ricci, one of the firefighters who had passed the test sued New Haven for the overturn of the tests. Ricci had quit his second job, made flashcards, took practice tests, worked with a study group, and practiced in mock interviews. He was prepared for both the written and oral exam. Because he was dyslexic, he had also paid an enormous amount of money to have his textbooks made into audio tapes Times reported. Fortunately, in a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court sided with Ricci, and 18 out of the original 20 firefighters who had passed the exams received a promotion. The point is that there were those who were about to lose the fruits of their labor because of reverse-racism in very much the same way that SB 185 would affect students in admissions.

Assuming that some of these students get preferential treatment, would they even feel like they had accomplished anything at the end of their education? Would the schools have to lower their standards to accommodate the influx of students who are chosen on the basis of their race and not their achievements and accomplishments? I think so. I believe we should stick to MLK Jr's statement that all people should be judged not by their skin color, but by the content of their character.
**This article does not reflect the opinions of all members of the Berkeley Opinion, but is the personal ideas of the writer himself.
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