The Flawed Logic of Anti-affirmative Action Bake Sales

By Dr. Christopher J. Metzler

metzlerThe Affirmative Action Bake Sale is used by conservative groups on college campuses to further polarize college campuses along racial lines using affirmative action as a hammer. Writing for Fox News, Wendy McElroy said, “Through Affirmative Action Bake Sales, conservative groups on campuses across America are satirically and peacefully spotlighting the injustice of AA programs that penalize or benefit students based solely on gender and race.” Seeking to dramatize the “ills” of affirmative action, the groups charge different prices for baked goods based entirely on race. For example, White and Asian males may be charged $1 for a muffin while Black and Hispanic males might be charged 25 cents.

Recently Bucknell University students held such a bake sale that was shut down by the university. Citing the First Amendment, Bucknell students claimed that their free speech rights were violated. Of course, they conveniently forgot that as students at a private university, the First Amendment simply does not apply. But, the issue goes beyond the technical question of the First Amendment and whether it applies to a private university. Instead, the issue is that students such as those at Bucknell, who put on the bake sale, continue to propagate the myth that only White and Asian males are qualified to be admitted to university study.

First, far too many admissions committees make decisions to admit or deny students based strictly on quantitative factors such as test scores and “standardized” tests. The reality is that in our capitalist society, the more money one has, the more money one can spend on commercial test preparation services. Let us not forget that while the income disparity between Blacks and Whites has changed some, they are not even. Thus, more Whites than Blacks are able to purchase commercial test preparation services, increasing their quantitatives and admissions to colleges and universities.

Second, the Bucknell students chose to ignore completely affirmative action for White men, which is a staple of the admissions process of many colleges and universities. Of course, given that the right wing has so racialized the term affirmative action, they dare not apply it to White men. Instead, it is admission by legacy. Legacy admissions means that colleges and universities reserve places in the class for the children of alumni who have given significant sums of money. The reality is that those admits tend to be overwhelmingly White and overwhelmingly male. In these cases, the only quantitatives that matter are the dollar value of the contribution. Often these legacy admits are outside the regular admissions process and admissions committees are blissfully unaware of them. So, why don’t the Affirmative Action Bake Sales offer a discount for legacy admits?

Third, affirmative action continues to be a divisive issue on college campuses in large part because of the elitism that affects too many universities. Students on far too many college campuses have accepted the notion that Black and Brown students who have been admitted to colleges and universities are academically inferior and could not have been admitted to the exclusive halls of academe but for naked racial preferences. Students sponsoring the Affirmative Action Bake Sale are operating from a superiority complex. The logic of that complex is that they (the predominantly White students) have been admitted strictly on merit and that the Black and Brown students were not. The Affirmative Action Bake Sale is the method by which they seek to further marginalize the Black and Brown students on their campuses. The Black and Brown students are then forced to prove that they belong by denying that affirmative action had anything to do with their admission. Of course, by virtue of the way the conversation is framed, legacy admits have nothing to prove as they are the silent elite.

Fourth, the students who have these bake sales engage in racial profiling. By choosing to offer the discount to Blacks and Hispanics, they are further advancing the stereotypes of Asians as the “model minority,” whose intellectual capabilities are on par with Whites. The assumption being that students are intelligent and thus worthy of admissions based on how close they are to a “white norm” of intelligence.

Fifth, I disagree with the Affirmative Action Bake Sale because I think that such events are ahistorical, race-baiting and political pandering of the most vitriolic kind. Moreover, students who will be our future leaders should be able to engage in serious debate without relying on divisive and trite tactics that are designed to belittle rather than engage those with whom they disagree. This is a valuable skill that they need when entering the real world. Name-calling and identity politics is in large part responsible for the racial divide that still permeates America. The students in this case are choosing to repeat these tactics. However, I do not agree that the students should be silenced in the free market place of ideas.

Finally, I am also deeply disturbed by the way the Bucknell administration chose to shut down the bake sale. Here, the school had the opportunity to mount a spirited defense of affirmative action if it assumes that affirmative action has merit. It squandered that opportunity. Wayne Bromfield, Bucknell’s general counsel wrote that students did not have the required prior permission to hand out the handbills at the cafeteria entrance.  According to Bromfield, permission is required to prevent cross-scheduling and allow management to prepare for “possible reactions” to the events, “including for the safety of those involved.”

In an academic environment, we should never send the message that academic freedom is only free when we agree with the content of the message.

Dr. Christopher J. Metzler is the author of The Construction and Rearticulation of Race in a ‘post-racial’ America and an associate dean at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.

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13 responses to “The Flawed Logic of Anti-affirmative Action Bake Sales

  1. If my students ever wrote a paper that was this poorly written and so filled with faulty logic, they would get a very fast F.

    Just for one example: ” the issue is that students such as those at Bucknell, who put on the bake sale, continue to propagate the myth that only White and Asian males are qualified to be admitted to university study.”

    The above is a classic example of faulty reasoning, since at no point did anyone suggest that “only White and Asian males are qualified to be admitted.” It is highly unlikely that anyone involved with the bake sale believes this absurd statement. However, what they do believe is that admission to college should be based on merit – not race.

    Also, the reason Bucknell did not mount a “spirited defense of Affirmative Action” is that the whole policy has no merit – at least when it is based on race.

    (By the way, before publishing anything in the future, I suggest you have someone edit it for diction and proper use of capitalization.)

  2. Excellent article and a perspective that needs to continued to be expressed in academic circles. Although many of us have done so, and continue to do so, I am not sure the right people are listening. For example, a major recommendation put forth recently in a report funded by the Macy Foundation regarding medical school education, i.e. admissions, graduation, curriculum, etc. was that much less emphasis be placed on the MCAT, the standardized test for medical school admissions. Although this recommendation came from a most prestigious group and was based on what many of us have known for many years, i.e. the lack of proven validity for standardized tests, especially when evaluating under represented groups, when will the medical schools truly recognize this and change? As Dr. Metzler appropriately points out, there are many other forms of preference that are currently in place today, e.g. legacy, but these are “okay” as they show preference to the white privileged group, the group that continues to usually be “in charge and making decisions” as to what is right and wrong instead of recognizing and correcting the inequalities that continue to plague our academic community and society as well.

  3. Excellent article Dr. Metzler . It seems that you struck a “racist in denial” nerve with Mr. Steve W.

  4. I agree with Craig. G

    your article seems to have struck a “racist in denial” nerve with Mr. Steve W.

    Otherwise, why would he pretend that non-whites students have a disadvantage compared to white students when it comes to money and access as well as being given the benefit of a doubt that they at least are “qualified” to be at the university.

  5. This is of course one sided. Every time a Black or Hispanic is not admitted or hired because of the color of there skin there is an uproar. I have on multiple occasions been bypassed, for both jobs and schooling. Due to nothing other then the color of my skin. AKA diversity or a quota. Call it what you will. Have you ever gone to a job interview and felt that since there is a minority there you wont get a job? Even though you KNOW you are more qualified. I have. Let me ask you a question. I am a step father to a multi racial child. My wife (who is white) If Her and I have a child. My step daughter will get ” preferred” treatment, Just because her father is black. Is this fair?? same upbringing, same parents. What makes one deserve preferred treatment??? MLK said he dreamed of a colorless society. but yet WE base it all on color.

  6. To JJ:

    YOU: Every time a Black or Hispanic is not admitted or hired because of the color of there skin there is an uproar.

    ME: Since the Black and Hispanic unemployment rate is two to three times higher than the white unemployment rate AND blacks with college degrees are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites with college degrees, there should be an uproar. Not by whites but by the people with the HIGHEST unemployment rate.

    Rather than direct your indignation at other souls who are simply trying to feed their families, why don’t you focus that laser beam of resentment on the (white) people who control the jobs?

    YOU: I have on multiple occasions been bypassed, for both jobs and schooling. Due to nothing other then the color of my skin.

    ME: Funny, when black people make that claim, whites dismiss it as frivolous sour grapes. Since you state that as a fact, you must have ESP…

    YOU: Have you ever gone to a job interview and felt that since there is a minority there you wont get a job? Even though you KNOW you are more qualified.

    ME: Here we go. Another qualified white being penalized by an unqualified minority. Bottom line, JJ, YOU have no way of knowing if you’re more qualified than anyone else who applies for a job. Did that employer give you have access to their college transcripts? Their work history? Their previous job evaluations or experience?

    Let’s cut to the chase: What you’re REALLY saying is, as a white person, I am ALWAYS more qualified than any non-white person. And therein, lies the problem with white privilege and white racism: the (false) assumption of racial superiority.

    YOU: I am a step father to a multi racial child. My wife (who is white) If Her and I have a child. My step daughter will get ” preferred” treatment, Just because her father is black.

    ME: I pity this child. This white mother had NO business letting any man who is so prejudiced against minorities, come anywhere near her black daughter (“multiracial” doesn’t mean anything in a white supremacy society. One black parent makes the child black –period).

    A grown man who is already waging a war of white resentment against a child’s future success (rather than assume she may deserve what she gets makes me cringe and shudder with apprehension. May God protect her from the likes of you…

    YOU: Is this fair?? same upbringing, same parents. What makes one deserve preferred treatment??? MLK said he dreamed of a colorless society. but yet WE base it all on color.

    ME: Your entire post was about COLOR. Your mentality is the very type MLK was protesting against, so why you would pretend to respect this man is beyond me…

    If you want to create a colorless society, look in the mirror and start with yourself.

  7. As always the first thing I am called is a racist. Because I stand up and say I feel this is wrong. I am not spouting hate, I am not making offensive comments like praying to god someone saves your child from your racist thoughts towards whites. I cant have a say without being a racist. First and foremost I dont want a PREFERRED status. I want an even playing field. You say god protect her from the likes of me. No, god blessed her with me and vice versa. I am going to use the broken system to send her to college. Unlike what you said she is not just black. But she will check the black box on all applications. I am going to raise her to understand the wrongs in both races. You took everything I said and turned it into me being a racist. IM not suprised, that is the first thing said. You missed the whole point of what I said or ignored it. If I have a child with my wife why do they get treated different? I want them both to have the SAME advantages. You ask me why I ACT like I respect a man like MLK. Because his Ideas where of EQUAL rights, not prefered, EQUAL. But some people your self included forgot that. You can continue to think all whites are the problem but were not.Were not out to get you. Also if you didnt understand why the whole post was about color. Thats because this WHOLE TOPIC IS ABOUT COLOR. IM just hoping someone will see there is more then just one side to this story.

  8. also almost forgot. Your comment,

    Another qualified white being penalized by an unqualified minority. Bottom line, JJ, YOU have no way of knowing if you’re more qualified than anyone else who applies for a job. Did that employer give you have access to their college transcripts? Their work history? Their previous job evaluations or experience?

    OH to the contrary, I applied for a job having 13 yrs of Supervisor experience. lost a job to a minority who has No Experience, No car, No License and was fired from his last job! This came from the man himself. told to friends of mine who work there. one of which drove him home a few times. No they were not all white! Am I always more qualified NO. But in this case you tell me!

    Ive never seen the fact that more hispanic and blacks are unemployed. I know I am one of the millions unemployed right now and I have NO white friends in power that can get me a job so I guess were in the same boat. If you find the whites in control let me know. As I cant seem to find a job to feed my family either. please leave a post of this information on unemployment for me as well as others who come by here. a link would be nice.

  9. YOU: As always the first thing I am called is a racist.

    ME: I assume this isnt’ the first time.

    YOU: Because I stand up and say I feel this is wrong.

    ME: What’s wrong, JJ? The non-white unemployment rate being two to three times higher than the white? What puzzles me, JJ, is all the white people who say some minority is less qualified than they were YET when I ask them how in the world they managed to get hold of that “minority’s” school and job history so they could make a FAIR comparison, all I get is silence.

    I must tell you, I’ve applied for and been rejected for more jobs than I can count and NEVER ONCE, did that employer offer me a peek at the person’s credentials who got that job. In fact, they won’t even tell you their name. And half the time, they don’t even tell you face to face, that you didn’t get the job. I always get that dreaded form letter, or no contact at all.

    So, I gotta ask, JJ, the last time you were turned down for a position in favor of an “unqualified minority” how the heck did you manage to take a peek at that minority’s personal information who got the job?

    I’m serious because I’m gonna do that next time I’m turned down.

    YOU: I am not spouting hate, I am not making offensive comments like praying to god someone saves your child from your racist thoughts towards whites.

    ME: Why cant I have a say without being a racist, JJ? I can’t pretend I didn’t mean what I said. I did. I think you’re in deep denial about your racist views, and that’s means you’re dangerous to any black child under your influence. Sorry.

    YOU: First and foremost I dont want a PREFERRED status. I want an even playing field.

    ME: Then why are you complaining about
    minorities getting a job? Why do you automatically assume you’re more deserving of that job, JJ? Do you make that assumption when you’re competing against white strangers, JJ? You don’t sound like a person who wants an even playing field — not if non-whites are on the field.

    The problem, JJ, is you think every time a minority gets anything that you didn’t get, you assume they didn’t earn it. READ YOUR OWN STATEMENTS. This is exactly what you’re complaining about.

    the black unemployment rate — regardless of education — is two to three time higher than the white and you still resent a minority getting a crumb from the economic table.

    Instead of searching inside for what YOU lack, you shift the blame to the black or Hispanic person who gets a job. And if they get that job (on their own merit), they have to contend with people like you on the job, who make them feel they didn’t earn it or deserve it.

    Believe me, JJ, I’ve met plenty of white people like this in the workplace who resent any sign of progress or prosperity by black or brown people.

    And there might be whsomeone just like you who will cast the same disparaging eye upon your (black) stepdaughter when she finishes college or gets a good job — that’s if you haven’t destroyed her confidence by then with your racial nonsense.

    YOU: You say god protect her from the likes of me. No, god blessed her with me and vice versa. I am going to use the broken system to send her to college.

    ME: Spending money is not the same as respecting her as a person of color. From what YOU wrote, you’re ready to accuse (and resent) her for doing better than some unborn white daughter. Good grief…

    YOU: Unlike what you said she is not just black. But she will check the black box on all applications.

    ME: Let me give you a clue, JJ. ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE MULTI-RACIAL. Haven’t you noticed we come in all shades and have all grades of hair? If she has ONE black parent, the government and the powers that be say she is BLACK.

    That’s why she will check the box marked “black” because that’s exactly what she is. I guarantee you, she will be seen as black when she steps out the door. Neither you or your wife have the power to change her racial classification.

    Why it bothers you to acknowledge she is “black” even though you know she will be checking the black box, speaks volumes about your real feelings toward black people…

    YOU: You took everything I said and turned it into me being a racist.

    ME: I said you had prejudices against minorities. I let your words speak for themselves. Maybe you should read them again and get a little insight into how you really think…

    YOU: You missed the whole point of what I said or ignored it.

    ME: Oh no, I got the point. You have a beef with non-whites, period, and you blame them for your employment and professional woes. That’s pretty clear.

    YOU: If i have a child with my wife why do they get treated different?

    ME: What are you talking about? You don’t have a child with your wife. Do you see how pre-prejudiced you are by assuming your white child is going to be treated worse than your black stepdaughter?

    What you’re really afraid of is the death of white privilege, JJ, that whites have always taken for granted. It is a shock to your nervous systems that you now have to compete with people who are not white. You want the world to be the way it was for your fathers and grandfathers. A guarantee of white privilege.

    Rest assured, JJ, with the black unemployment rate two to three times higher than the white, white privilege isn’t dead — yet.

    YOU: You ask me why I ACT like I respect a man like MLK. Because his Ideas where of EQUAL rights, not prefered, EQUAL.

    ME: You think “equal” means assuming someone non-white is “unqualified” every time they get a good job or a university seat? Especially when you don’t know athing about them personally? Is that what you call “equal” and “fair,” JJ?

    you think MLK was fighting so people like you could assume a non-white is “unqualified? without knowing a thing about them?

    YOU: You can continue to think all whites are the problem but were not.Were not out to get you.

    ME: I’ll tell you this, I’d worry plenty about running into you behind an employment desk. Absolutely.

    YOU: Also if you didnt understand why the whole post was about color. Thats because this WHOLE TOPIC IS ABOUT COLOR.

    ME: That’s correct.

    YOU: IM just hoping someone will see there is more then just one side to this story.

    ME: I agree.

  10. YOU: OH to the contrary, I applied for a job having 13 yrs of Supervisor experience. lost a job to a minority who has No Experience, No car, No License and was fired from his last job! This came from the man himself. told to friends of mine who work there. one of which drove him home a few times. No they were not all white! Am I always more qualified NO. But in this case you tell me!

    ME: I can’t speak on what that man may have said or didn’t say, or why you didn’t get the job. There are many reasons other than what is on paper. And people have a tendency to add to or distort what they “heard” someone say.

    Not saying what you said is not true, but if it is, then you were treated unfairly. Maybe, it was about color, maybe not. If you think you can prove it, maybe you can file a complaint.

    YOU: I’ve never seen the fact that more hispanic and blacks are unemployed. I know I am one of the millions unemployed right now and I have NO white friends in power that can get me a job so I guess were in the same boat. If you find the whites in control let me know. As I cant seem to find a job to feed my family either. please leave a post of this information on unemployment for me as well as others who come by here. a link would be nice.

    ME: I’m very sorry to hear that. I know it’s rough, and believe me, I do wish you the best in finding employment. What I’d like to say is black and white people are BOTH being victimized by the powers that be. THEY ruined the economy. THEY exported jobs and manufacturing. THEY are importing foreign workers for cheaper wages and more control over their workforce. THEY created the sub-prime and banking crisis. And, THEY installed another puppet government that is robbing the people blind.

    How were they able to do this so flawlessly, JJ? They got you watching me, and blaming me, and got me fighting you, and they run the henhouse blind.

    The problem, JJ, is not minorities. It’s the people who control the economy. Until we understand that, we will keep losing the battle.

    I’m not your enemy. I don’t want to be your enemy. I want you to be able to earn a good living, a living wage, so you can live decently. I want the same for myself and my family, and the last thing I need is someone making me feel guilty for wanting the same things they want.

    My skin may be different but my desire to take care of my family are the same as yours. And I want to get credit for my hard work, the same as you do.

    And just to save you time, if you’re interested, here’s a link to the unemployment info I stated earlier.

    US Bureau of Labor
    Employment Situation Summary

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

    Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates for adult men (9.8
    percent), adult women (7.5 percent), teenagers (23.8 percent), whites
    (8.6 percent), blacks (14.5 percent), and Hispanics (12.3 percent)
    were little changed in July. The unemployment rate for Asians was 8.3
    percent, not seasonally adjusted.

    Another article:
    New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/nyregion/13unemployment.html?_r=5

    Unemployment among blacks in New York City has increased much faster than for whites, and the gap appears to be widening at an accelerating pace, new studies of jobless data have found.

    Economists said they were not certain why so many more blacks were losing their jobs in New York, especially when a large share of the layoffs in the city have been in fields where they are not well represented, like finance and professional services.

    Yet, another article…

    Black Unemployment Rate Nearly Twice as Whites

    …for African-Americans, joblessness jumped to 13.4 percent—up from 12.6 percent in January and nearly twice the White unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.

    ————–

    I do wish you much luck in your job search. For the record, I’m concerned about keeping a job. It doesn’t look good in my industry.

    And I apologize if I was insensitive to your situation. Good luck.

  11. Everything you say is. JJ is a racist.This is a first but I was expecting it as soon as I left a post. Whites dont argue in fear of being called a racist. which ta da!! it took all of 2 min. I am secure in myself and know where I stand. You need to step back and look at yourself as well. You called the other poster a racist as well. I guess white = racist in your mind. You keep attacking my kid and my parenting. NOTICE I keep saying my kid. she calls me daddy, her real father is not in the picture and has never been, IM using my position as an example. 2 kids different father. but you turn it into me being a bad father. And again a racist. She will have a seance of humor about her race. Her uncles are aribic and mexican. And she is learning from all of us about all races. Not just black and white. she will not be ignorant to it. In less then 5 min you think you know me. You read something and in your brain you twist it and you think im pro white and I hate all minorities. You say if i was at an employment desk you would worry. why? Again you think i would follow affirmative action? hire you or not hire you on race. Wrong. you would be hired on MERIT. The right person for the job. be it black, white, green, yellow, gay, straight, man or woman. That is what I am saying. A little note for you. My last job, I was hired by a black man. This could be fixed by getting rid of affirmative action or Diversity as the legal term goes and then no one will have a crutch. whites cant say its because of affirmative action,And the Minorities wont have to work 3 times as hard to prove they did it on his own. Of couse IM sure it wont be fair to someone no matter what happens. Its not the 60’s any more. We have a black president, I cant even remember when there was a white mayor of Detroit and a Hispanic female on the supreme court. id say things have come a long way. You keep saying I dont want to give up my white privilege! I come from a lower middle class. what privilege do i have? ? IM lost here. I didnt get my hey your white membership card. IM still unemployed, have been for almost a year. Who are the whites in control? who? please find out and let me know. I swear the guy in charge was black. And yeah I voted for him too! Like me or not we can agree to disagree. Didnt someone else make this comment this last week as well? humm. oh and your other question was anwsered before this post.

  12. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm
    both are around 1.5 times whites. not 2-3. but I understand your point.

  13. I wish I had more time to explain why racism will not just “go away” if we leave it alone. It is more complex than that, and it is part of a national and global system designed to maintain the white status quo.

    However, I’m sure you have more important things to do than debate with me all night. 🙂

    I agree that we can agree to disagree. I wish you the best, JJ, and hope you’ll achieve whatever it is that you hope to achieve.

    Paul

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