Bake sale barely useful

A bake sale at the University of California, Berkeley attempted to make a political point by using racial differences to determine the price of cupcakes.

A Maclean’s article from Sept. 25 described the event that had patrons pay different prices according to their race and gender. Prices for baked goods were set at: $2 for Caucasians, $1.50 for Asians, $1 for Latinos, $0.75 for African Americans and $0.25 for Native Americans. Women received a discount of $0.25.

The bake sale, organized by the Berkeley College Republicans, is meant to protest Senate Bill 185. The bill was passed and presented to Governor Jerry Brown on Sept. 9 who must sign or veto the bill before Oct. 9. If enacted, the bill would allow universities to consider race, ethnicity, gender and national origin on admissions applications.

While it’s a bold and shocking tactic, the Berkeley College Republicans have succeeded in garnering attention. What’s debatable is whether they’ve opened a discussion on the bill or simply drawn flak in the attempt to satirize it.

The sale could prove to be self-defeating, with people discussing the contentious bake sale instead of the senate bill. The racially divisive bake sale is an interesting initiative, but rational discussion doesn’t flourish while people are angry.

It’s a satirical gesture, but one that is deeply offensive for many people.

The bake sale places the identity of patrons into categories — something that is potentially hurtful to individuals. What are patrons charged if they don’t identify their race or gender in the same way that the vendor does?

The fact that the Berkeley College Republicans hosted the sale is problematic. They represent a group associated with a long history of marginalizing minority groups. It’s difficult to examine their actions without also taking into account their ideology. Had the event been put on by a group like Human Rights Watch, it likely wouldn’t have received so much criticism.

Essentially, the bake sale has made the UC Berkeley an unequal and unsafe place in the name of a political statement. It’s an exploitation of the hardship and discrimination that marginalized groups have historically faced.

The bake sale is an oversimplification of a serious issue.

The Berkeley College Republicans should’ve made a greater effort to have their demonstration more accurately represent the debate over admissions criteria. For example, if visible minorities were allowed to skip the line, it would correlate clearly to being given admissions priority.

Because it draws attention to Senate Bill 185, the bake sale is an important demonstration, but its discriminatory nature nearly oversteps the line between satire and insult.

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