Bake sale stirs up racism debate

Salih Muhammad, chair of the campus Black Student Union, spoke at the ASUC emergency senate meeting on Sunday night.
Kevin Foote/Staff
Salih Muhammad, chair of the campus Black Student Union, spoke at the ASUC emergency senate meeting on Sunday night.

Student leaders from various organizations have publicly denounced the Berkeley College Republicans’ plans to hold an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” where the race of the consumer would determine the price of a baked good.

The bake sale, announced Thursday evening in a Facebook post, is intended to protest the affirmative action-like bill, SB 185 — currently awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature — in a satirical manner, according to Shawn Lewis, the organization’s president.

Almost immediately after the event’s announcement, student backlash exploded, with Facebook commenters calling the event “racist,” “pathetic,” and “offensive.”

“We’re not open to being reduced to a price at a bake sale,” said Salih Muhammad, chair of the campus Black Student Union, in an interview with The Daily Californian Senior Editorial Board Sunday. “There’s a certain point where satire becomes disrespectful.”

The event’s announcement stirred such enormous student outcry that an emergency meeting of the ASUC Senate was called for Sunday to discuss the controversy. At the meeting, the senate unanimously passed a bill promoting and defining respectful conduct for student organizations but did not specifically discuss defunding the organization.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman condemned the bake sale in a statement following the emergency senate meeting.

“My disappointment is not in their policy stance, but rather in their tactics,” he said in the statement. “The bake sale planned for Tuesday is an offensive event that has deeply hurt and insulted members of our campus family.”

As an organization that receives funding from the ASUC — it received $3,791.11 this fiscal year, according to ASUC Executive Vice President Chris Alabastro — the Berkeley College Republicans is subject to having its sponsorship revoked.

According to the ASUC constitution, the senate “shall not fund any activity or group which discriminates against any student by race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, physical disability, or political activity, or belief in its method or recruitment and acceptance for membership.”

ASUC President Vishalli Loomba said in an email before the emergency senate meeting that punitive measures are “definitely a possibility.”

Lewis said that the event is specifically meant to protest the ASUC-sponsored phone bank in which students are encouraged to call in support of SB 185 to the governor.

He said the ASUC’s event makes it sound like “Berkeley students have one voice.”

“They never asked the other side,” he said.

Lewis added the Berkeley College Republicans is an extremely diverse organization whose board of directors — which decided to hold the bake sale — consists of members of all racial backgrounds.

“People just keep screaming that it’s a bunch of white kids,” he said.

Although he said the bake sale is meant to be a satire, many community leaders said they did not see the joke.

“When I was an undergraduate at Cal in the early 2000s the Berkeley College Republicans did this exact same stunt, and it was just as offensive then too,” said UC Student Regent Alfredo Mireles Jr. in a joint press release with Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein. “It is disappointing that these politically engaged Berkeley students decided to deal with this issue in an immature and offensive way that will make some Berkeley students not feel welcomed on their own campus.”

UC Berkeley student Marco Amaral said that while he was dismayed by the announcement of the bake sale, he was impressed with student response.

“The initial reaction of the community was a beautiful thing,” he said. “The multicultural community on campus stands in unity against racism, sexism and any type of prejudice.”

The emergency town hall was just one of many student reactions to the bake sale. A counter protest, the “Conscious Cupcakes Giveaway,” is planned for the same day as the bake sale.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Sean Arther

    “We’re not open to being reduced to a price at a bake sale,” said Salih Muhammad, chair of the campus Black Student Union, in an interview with The Daily Californian Senior Editorial Board Sunday. “There’s a certain point where satire becomes disrespectful.”
    Classic leftism–silencing opposing viewpoints.  Apparently, in the future, the Berkeley College Republicans are forbidden from using satire unless all liberals on campus (99 percent of the student population & the faculty) find it to be “respectful.”  In other words, “shut up.”  Pathetic left-wing fascists.

  • Sean Arther

    “The initial reaction of the community was a beautiful thing,” he said. “The multicultural community on campus stands in unity against racism, sexism and any type of prejudice.”
    CORRECTION: The multicultural community on campus stands in unity against racism, sexism and any type of prejudice EXCEPT WITH REGARD TO ADMISSIONS.

  • Anonymous

    Chancellor Birgeneau selects those that pay $50,600 over instate Californians.

    of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau
    ($500,000 salary), displaces qualified for public university education at Cal.
    Californians with $50,600 FOREIGN students.


    Ranked # 70 by Forbes, the University of California
    Berkeley is not increasing enrollment.  $50,600 FOREIGN students are accepted by
    Birgeneau at the expense of qualified instate students.


    Your opinions make a difference; email UC Board of
    Regents   [email protected]

  • Anonymous

    Salih Muhammad is in Nation of Islam an anti-Jewish anti-gay black hate group.  Why is he not banned from campus? Is he suggesting disrespect towards blacks is illegal on campus? Obviously disrespect towards Jews and gays gets a free pass.  What hypocrasy.

  • Nogo

    Of course the minorities support it.  Affirmative action is racist.

  • Anonymous

           I suggest the students leaders demand the President of the College Republicans be expelled from school and they seek a civil injunction against the group requesting the club be excluded from campus. Under 526.7 (b) of the California Code of Civil  Procedure”harassment” is unlawful … a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate  purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause areasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the plaintiff.

          Any student or arguably an association of students should be able to go to Alameda Superior Court and request this injunction alleging the “knowing and willful course of conduct of the College Repulicans seriously alarms, annoys and harasses them and their course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emtional distress. ..”  

  • Brian

    At least the BCR is taking a creative, non-disruptive approach to express their dissent, instead of acting like a bunch of wild hooligans and locking themselves in buildings/perching on top of Wheeler. Christ. 

  • Guest

    The bake sale is racist and offensive.

    Just like affirmative action.

  • Anonymous

       Imagined insensitivity:  The Republicians holding an  Increase Diversity Bakesale.     Real insensitivity:    Six trillion dollars spent on social programs, urban dropout factories pretending to be schools, overflowing prisons, seventy-two  percent of Africian-American children are born out of wedlock, one in ten young Africian-American males are incarcerated, twelve  hundred African women, on average, are raped every day in the Congo, while  feminists sit in carpeted,  air conditioned offices  and promote abortion.

    • Tony M

      Funny, however, how we’re seeing the true colors of the hard left – red.

  • Guest

    Salih Muhammad looks like one of the clones from the Nation of Islam.  Is that his line?

    • HassanHartleybitch

      Bitch, how cowardly you hide behind anonymous status as you throw shade on Muslims…grow a pair, you dilapidated cunt, and show your face for the fight. As for these Republican shitholes complaining about affirmative action, then tell me how white bias for 400 years is anything short of a gigantic “entitlement” program?

      • Seer of Things

        The Nation of Islam is Muslim like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christian.

      • Tony M

        Looks like the REAL haters are finally coming out of the woodwork. Thanks for letting us know you’re on of them, Hassan.

      • anonymous

        Nation of Islam members, after being incited to do so by their leader Elijah Muhammad, killed Malcolm X for converting to traditional Islam. NOI is to   Islam as the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (the Warren Jeffs cult) is to Christianity.

      • me

        Excuse me?!?! you need to shut your mouth.  First of all, NOI is a hate group, it’s incredibly antisemitic and puts pressure on its own members to commit violence.  In my opinion it’s not representative of true Islam, so you need to not jump on people like this who aren’t even ‘throwing shade on Muslims’ (whatever that means) but confronting NOI as an organization.  Look it up at the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER website – the organization doing some of the best work against racism and neo-nazis today.  
        also, quit the violent misogynistic verbal diarrhea.  You can’t claim to support one kind of equality or be fighting against racism at the same time you use sexist slurs against someone.  Bitch, cunt, really?!?  That shit is unnacceptable and makes you the real coward.  If you reply to me I’ll give you my contact info and we can have a proper chat.

    • Anonymous

      He is in NOI.  It’s a hate group.  And he’s whinning about “disrespect”.  Facist!

  • Gadsden

    What a great idea.  Will the cookies be free for illegals?

  • Troy in Houston

    The really funny thing here is how this whole mess will affect future graduates from Berekeley.  I’ve already stopped looking at graduates from there all together.  In a business environment I just can’t take the chance that a person is looking for any excuse to cry racism or play the victim.  I want people that can work as a team.  It doesn’t look like those are the type of people that are graduating from Berkeley.

    • Tony M

      As a Berkeley grad, I have to admit that you are correct w/r/t a certain core of individuals.

    • anonymous

      People like that exist everywhere. More so in Berkeley, admittedly, but they can be found everywhere.

  • Joker

    Why so serious?

  • Faceit

    Hey Tony, what I find even more hilarious is that those that have enjoyed affirmative action since the inception of this country, after killing the natives, still want it to work for them only.  Trust me, I have been a high level executive in a number of large organizations and white males without a doubt have always been the worst performers.  You should focus on your studies…lol

    • Tony M

      I find it even more amusing that you need to make up nonsensical crap to justify silencing others because you’re too much of a narcissist and a craven coward to discuss and defend your ideas open debate.  As far as your claims being a high level executive and comments about white males, you’re clearly feeding me a line of bullshit, and I’m calling you on it. Have a nice day.

    • Sunny

      So are you saying affirmative action is necessary to ensure that these large organizations you speak of   remains competitive?   Since white males are the least qualified, we need to hire less of them right?  So if we lived in your world through your eyes,  Affirmative Action isn’t even necessary right?  I would like to meet some of these idiots that does the hiring from your companies as they seem to hire the most unqualified (white)person.  Or better yet, give me the heads up so I can completely avoid these companies because obviously they won’t be in business too long and I don’t want to waste my time.  Would appreciate the help.

  • Moonlyte73

    It is offensive. Those who claim they are open minded do not like it when they the simple reality reof their beliefs reflected back at them

  • Tony M

    I find it completely hilarious that the same pontificating windbags on the Left who keep insisting that our nation needs a “dialogue” on race and racial issues, are the same ones who get hysterical and demand retribution should anyone on the OTHER side of the political spectrum bring the subject up. Self-styled “progressives” really don’t want a “dialogue” about ANYTHING. In fact, what they want is a MONOLOGUE – they want to do all the talking, with everyone else forced to listen…

  • Dg

    Racist bake sales are bad, but racist admission policies are even worse.