Berkeley College Republicans And The Cupcake Analogy
Berkeley College Republicans at the University of California have made an analogy using baked goods about legalized race based discrimination. The students were selling cupcakes and other bakery items based on a sliding price scale based on a customer’s obvious skin color. White people were charged two dollars for a cupcake that would be sold to black people for seventy five cents. A woman would get an additional twenty five cents discount. Native Americans would benefit the most with a charge of twenty five cents. A Native American woman gets her cupcakes for free. The price structure failed to mention people with Muslim ancestry. Based on their treatment in current day America I’m sure the Berkeley College Republicans would have to pay Muslims to take a cupcake with their little scenario.
But as an analogy for racial discrimination the Berkeley College Republicans bake sale is woefully inadequate. As an analogy, it fails to take into consideration the history of racism that has existed ever since people of varying skin colors were introduced into this culture and it fails to take into consideration the current racial disparity that continues to impact our culture today. Today, because of a history of institutionalized racism that was sanctioned by each and every level of government in the United States from the local to the federal, the average white family enjoys twenty times the wealth of the average black family. Today, because of a history of racial discrimination that has made it a given that black people are automatically inferior to white people, black unemployment rates run twice the level of white unemployment rates. Black people were enslaved and were considered the property of white people.
This country has a rich history of unfair treatment towards people of color. Our labor was taken without compensation. By law, black children were prevented from obtaining any form of education. The United States Constitution was written the provision that blacks were only sixty percent human and it was legal for white people to consider black people little more than farm animals. And when the slavery of black people was finally ended, there was nothing done to correct the imbalance that has become the norm of this country. Black families were broken up because some plantation owner didn’t see a fellow human being with the same standards for family attachments as white people. Our ancestors were sold and traded by people like so many Pokemon playthings.
The Berkeley College Republicans want to examine the issue from a totally benign perspective that white people are just arbitrarily charged more because they are white. But for that analogy to be accurate the sellers of the cupcakes need to explain why white people are being charged more. They would have to explain that there was a history of cupcakes being made in bakeries that benefitted from the enslavement of black people who made the pastries day and night in conditions that were intolerable and without any form of compensation. They would have to explain that the bakery itself was built on land that was taken from the American natives who were pushed off the land at gun point. They would explain that the profits made from the history of selling cupcakes that were baked using slave labor was used to build white people’s schools and paid for the development of entire white communities that benefitted white people, excluded black people, and became a major component of the gross domestic product. And then, when somebody decided that the enslavement of black people was wrong, that same bakery then decided that it only served white people and wouldn’t allow black people to purchase its goods. But when that was determined to be too discriminatory and black people should be served, black people had to go to the backdoor in order to buy the cupcakes. And it should also be noted that the bakery that benefitted from the free labor of blacks decided that it wouldn’t hire any black people for its employment opportunities. And when it finally decided to hire black people, black people weren’t paid as well as the white people who did the same job and were given opportunities to climb the bakery’s corporate ladder. But the bakery finally got its act together. After all the racial discrimination that for generations took advantage of black people and then excluded black people and then unfairly treated black people, the bakery decided that to make amends, white people have to pay two dollars for cupcakes.
For the bake sale analogy to be correct, it needs to take into consideration America’s history of racial discrimination and its current condition of racial disparity. For some people to walk up and start selling cupcakes on a sliding scale for a day or two might give people the impression that the tepid steps this country takes to try and correct generations of institutionalized racial discrimination of minorities might appear that we are being unfair to white people, especially to white men. But really, the alleged discrimination of some white guy today paying two dollars for a cupcake compares little to the discrimination that others have suffered for generations. Generally speaking, if we really want to compare these alleged racial discriminations, white people who pay more for a cupcake really need to think about how little that might cost compared to all the wealth they control. In the final analysis, two dollars for a cupcake is a small price to pay for everything they’ve received.