A southern college campus stunt meant to amplify “racist” criticism over affirmative action that downplays the educational value and accomplishments of people of color has gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
It was in that context that a so-called “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” was recently held on the campus of Clemson University in South Carolina. While the name of the bake sale might sound innocent and progressive enough, the publicity stunt as well as the organization that planned it possess anything but those qualities.
It all started on Wednesday — the first day of Black History Month — when Clemson campus representatives for the Turning Point USA group staged the bake sale that featured cookies being sold according to the race of the buyer.
A now-viral photo taken in front of the Rhodes Engineering Research Center campus building at Clemson shows three smiling young white students standing next to a large sign that shows the prices for cookies on a race-based scale: $1.50 for Asian buyers, the top price; $1 for white customers; 50 cents for “Hispanic” buyers; 20 cents for Black buyers; and Native Americans got free cookies.
One TikTok user responded to the photo by calling the bake sale “so grossly patronizing and racist,” especially with it coming on the first day of Black History Month.
To be sure, Turning Point USA is a conservative advocacy group that cloaks its racism with so-called patriotism and once boasted Candace Owens as its communications director, in an indication of the organization’s mission.
The bake sale stunt came as the Supreme Court mulls ending affirmative action, which has narrowed the use of race as a mere factor to be considered in college decisions. The anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions hopes the Supreme Court will undo more than 40 years of precedent in two consolidated cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College.
Critics see the lawsuits as thinly veiled attempts to drive a wedge between Black and Asian students, a claim bolstered by the bake sale at Clemson.
“Although the case against Harvard is filed ostensibly on behalf of Asian American students, and there is much made in that case about the fact that Asian Americans suffer discrimination in admissions at elite schools like Harvard, at the end of the day, the case is simply an attack on the practice of considering race in college admissions,” Rutgers Law Professor and Vice Dean Stacy Hawkins told NewsOne back in October.
The ironic part is that a study found that white women benefit the most from affirmative action while being among its fiercest opponents, as shown by the two smiling white women in the bake sale photo at Clemson.
Turning Point USA said in a subsequent statement following the bake sale that it has “no ill intentions toward anyone when planning the event” and only wanted “to highlight admission policies … that openly favor applicants based on race.” The group added later: “we simply believe applicants should only be judged based on their performance and qualifications, not on their race.”
Underscoring the unoriginality of Turning Point USA’s unfortunate thought process, Clemson wasn’t the first college campus to host such a bake sale.
Back in 2016, members of the Young Conservatives at the University of Texas-Austin (YCT-UT) held their own so-called affirmative action bake sale. In that instance, the pricing structure was designed “to illustrate this disastrous policy that demeans minorities on our campus by placing labels of race and gender on their accomplishments,” according to the event description posted on the YCT-UT Facebook page.
States that have already banned affirmative action have shown a steady decline in college enrollment from Black and brown students, suggesting the trend would go national if the Supreme Court strikes down the law meant to culturally diversify collegiate learning environments.
The U.S. Supreme Court on multiple occasions has upheld affirmative action. However, now that it has a decided conservative supermajority, it is unclear how the Supreme Court will rule this time around.
This is America.
Op-Ed: Affirmative Action Expands Opportunities For Future Teachers And Their Students
Asian American Students Sound Off On Protecting Affirmative Action Ahead Of SCOTUS Oral Arguments
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