Berkeley bake sale: Racist or satirical?

Who knew cupcakes could cause such controversy?

Some cookies and cupcakes are causing a whole lot of controversy on the campus of University of California at Berkeley.

Rather, it’s the tone of the bake sale where cookies are being sold that’s stirring the pot at the famously liberal school. The Berkeley College Republicans are hosting an “INCREASE DIVERSITY Bake Sale” today.

The original Facebook invitation sparked cries of racism from critics who said the event was extremely offensive. Baked goods were initially advertised at $2 each for white customers, $1.50 for buyers of Asian descent, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for black customers and 25 cents for Native Americans. All women would get a 25 cent discount.

Organizers said the bake sale is a satire on affirmative action after the recent passing of some legislation. The revised and current Facebook invitation reads:

Gov. Jerry Brown has SB 185 on his desk which would authorize California public universities to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national/geographic origin in the admissions process. The Berkeley College Republicans firmly believe measuring any admit’s merit based on race is intrinsically racist. Our bake sale will be at the same time and location of a phone bank which will be making calls to urge Gov. Brown to sign the bill. The purpose of the event is to offer another view to this policy of considering race in university admissions. The pricing structure of the baked goods is meant to be satirical, while urging students to think more critically about the implications of this policy.

The Facebook wall for the invitation is littered with hundreds of comments from people on both sides of the issue, some extremely heated or inflammatory.

“Time to put on your white sheets and pointy hats & go sell some cupcakes,” one person commented.

Another Facebook user wrote, “So what do you wanna bet the lefty affirmative-action racists froth at the mouth and get violent at the bake sale?”

The school’s chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, condemned the planned bake sale in an open letter.  He called it contrary to campus “Principles of Community” the encourage debate to be conducted in a respectful manner.

“It certainly is stirring emotions, and that’s what we want,” Shawn Lewis, the president of the Berkeley College Republicans, told KGO-TV in San Francisco. “But we certainly don’t want people to think that we’re making fun of racial issues or laughing at them because that’s not the message of the bake sale.”

The sale is scheduled for 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. near the location of a campus phone bank set up by supporters of SB 185.


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