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Nadra Kareem Nittle

Protesting Affirmative Action With Bake Sales, Stereotypes

By May 2, 2011

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Over the past few years, the most popular way to protest affirmative action on college campuses hasn't been through demonstrations or rallies but with bake sales. In such sales, desserts are offered to racial groups for different prices--ones that supposedly reflect how easy it is for them to gain college admission. Just last Wednesday, the Texas Tech chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas†held such a bake sale. The group charged Asians and whites the most for baked goods and charged blacks, Latinos and Native Americans the least. Why? Because the "liberal elite" favors the latter groups, according to the Young Conservatives.

"Our kind of feeling about it is that the system of affirmative action, you're basically saying that, 'OK, we do this so that way some races or groups of people, ethnicities, gender aren't subject to being left out,'" group chairman Jeramy Kitchen remarked.

But affirmative action does not exist because the liberal elite favors blacks, Latinos and Native Americans, nor does it function to prevent groups from being left out. It exists to help counteract the racial discrimination certain minority groups historically faced and continue to face today. It seems that Kitchen has no idea that at one point in time people of color were barred outright from entering predominantly white academic institutions or working in predominantly white industries. While it is illegal for institutions to discriminate on the basis of race or sex today, minority groups and women continue to earn less money than white males in the workplace. Moreover, studies have shown that discrimination in housing and employment remains strong, with landlords and companies explicitly discriminating against applicants with "ethnic" names. One study found that while job applicants with "white-sounding" names needed to send an average of 10 resumes to get a callback, applicants of equal caliber with "black-sounding" names needed to send an average of 15 resumes, or 50 percent more than whites, to get a callback. Employers even discriminated against applicants based on the neighborhoods they lived in, with those in white, affluent neighborhoods most likely to be called in for an interview.

In short, even in the new millennium, the playing field remains unequal. Because it largely benefits whites, it's irresponsible for the Young Conservatives to behave as if whites are at a disadvantage in academia. The idea for the affirmative action bake sale isn't just flawed for operating as if blacks, Latinos and Native Americans somehow have it easier than whites. It's flawed for operating as if race is the sole factor admissions officers take into consideration about applicants. Black and Latino students must still earn good grades and perform well on standardized tests, not to mention partake in extracurricular activities, to gain admission to topnotch universities. Having dark skin alone doesn't guarantee any minority admission to college. When groups such as the Young Conservatives decide to sell cookies to black women for $0.25 and white men for $1via affirmative action bake sales, this myth is perpetuated, however.

Discrimination isn't the sole reason that some colleges and universities practice affirmative action. Such institutions have made diversity a priority not just to right historical wrongs but also because research has shown that students receive a better education in an environment in which they're exposed to a variety of people and viewpoints. Critical thinking and analytical skills are fostered when students interact with classmates from diverse backgrounds. Hence, affirmative action exists for the benefit of students from all racial backgrounds, not just the historically oppressed.

Unfortunately, many Americans have a long way to go in their thinking about affirmative action. Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern is a case in point. While discussing a proposed constitutional amendment that aims to end affirmative action in the state, Kern suggested Wednesday that there are a disproportionate number of blacks in prison because African Americans don't want to study as hard in school.

"I've taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't study hard because they said the government would take care of them," she said. After public outcry, Kern retracted her remarks. Sadly, they reveal the same line of thinking behind affirmative action bake sales: Minorities are lazy cheats who work the system and use affirmative action to the detriment of whites. Did it ever occur to Kern and the Young Conservatives that the minorities who strive to get into college are among the hardest working individuals in their respective ethnic groups. People of color who are off committing crimes and working the system spend their time doing just that, not trying to get into college.

Comments

May 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm
(1) Mike says:

Personally, I think the bake sale-type of protest is pretty dumb. I wouldn’t worry enough about Affirmative Action to even concoct a protest. But I do see the reason for them.

I think there are people who look at society in terms of groups or demographics, and there are folks who look at society in terms of the individual. Affirmative Action is unfair at the individual level. It denies someone a position and gives it to another, based on race, gender, ect. If you want a group to have numerical equality, then Affirmative action is a way to do it. If you want individuals to be treated equally, regardless of race, then Affirmative Action goes in the wrong direction. And therein lies the basis of the protest.

The program has undeniably racist components (reverse racist components, technically), and in a nation that’s fighting that very mentality, Affirmative Action can be tough to swallow for some.

May 10, 2011 at 4:17 am
(2) Raymond says:

Mike, what a crock that just came out of your head.

So what exactly are groups made up of? Right, Individuals, so it is not just individuals that are somehow damaged by the status quo. There is this thing called white privilege that has been passed down for hundreds of years. White people are blind to their own privileged position in society. It is just not possible for people like you to understand the life of a 2nd class citizen. Affirmative Action does not give an advantage to people of color, it simply places them on a par with other applicants with equal talents, resumes, experience, and it does not give a person of color the job juts because of color. Look at all those abortion bills put out by the majority Rethugnuts in the House. These bills introduced by mostly by men, who cannot, will not, shalll not ever be in the position of being pregnant and having to decide on an abortion, but yet they think they should have the final say in what only affects women. Why shouldn’t the Congress be made up of a 50-50 split of women to men? So back to Affirmative Action, as it stands there are more people of color in prison, in foreclosure, have higher unemployment, are less likely to succeed than whites, and it isn’t from a lack of trying, it is institutional discrimination at every turn. That will never be the case, as in the Religious Right thinking they are under attack when they are the majority. There is in psychology this idea of projection, which people engage in to deflect their flaws or lack of a dedication to reality. It is when people accuse others of what they themselves are guilty of and they are so acquainted with these flaws they attribute them to others. The tea partiers are famous for this and the right wing rethugnuttery party is, too. It is their brand, their claim to fame.
So Mike, I’m guessing your are white. So am I.

May 10, 2011 at 10:31 pm
(3) Mike says:

Ray,

You are a person who looks at society in terms of groups. Everything you say is based on group orientation and mindset. To your thinking, the fairness to specific individuals is irrelevant. This is exactly my point. But in essence, the MO behind the bake sales addresses exactly that flaw. The individual has to pay more for a donut because he or she is not the proper color.

May 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm
(4) Veronica says:

I’m really getting sick and tired of the regressive, backwards attitudes of many of my fellow Texans–and I especially hate how they think that they represent the state. I’m here to tell them right here and now: you do NOT speak for those of us Texans who want to move this state forward into the 21st century, not move it back to the Stone Age. This is one Texan who wants better for her state and has had enough of this crap.

July 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm
(5) Eile says:

I’m Asian,

In my university(not going to name them), The cookies prices are

Asian: $1.50
White: $1.00
Blacks/Latinos ó 50 cents.

We never do anything to Blanks or Latinos. We get in the top universities fair and square. If anything Asians have the disadvantage of getting into top universities.
Some Asians got rejected even though they have much better grades and better SAT scores than other students who got accpected.

You know what? next year, we going to sell cookies too.

Asians and White = $1
Black, Latinos … = $10

August 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm
(6) James says:

You know what else you could do next year Eile?
Enrol yourself onto a remedial English course, for someone supposedly of ‘high intelligence’ your grammar quite frankly is pathetic.

September 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm
(7) Jay says:

James,

Stop picking on Asians! ;^) English is probably a second language for her.

The point of these bake sales is to show that racist discrimination is never a moral solution to other racist discrimination. In that, I believe that they are very effective. I visit many college campuses and am finding that a majority of students now understand the true moral tenets behind liberty. Liberty for one individual (or group of individual) should never take away the liberty of another.

December 29, 2011 at 1:41 am
(8) Xi says:

Personally I think all of this racial nonsense is a bunch of bulls–t and I get tired of people thinking that past discrimination never happened. If anything was supposed to happen, it would be to stop inflaming issues. I have a half Asian- Black grandchild. I get tired of people having this superiority complex over her because she has dark skin. I think Mike, Ellie and Jay are demented in their thinking and I personally agree with Veronica.

May 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm
(9) kia says:

i love the last line in the last paragraph…perfect!!!!

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