More Than Just Brown

I would have never thought that Berkeley, a campus that prides itself on free speech, would have reacted that way it did to the bake sale. Even before the event took place, the Facebook event page was filled with comments threatening our members and threatening to shut down the event. However, it did not stop with threats. People began personally targeting our non-white members and calling them “tokens” or “brainwashed.” Of all the things that resulted from this event, I will never forget the personal attacks these students, who claim to respect diversity and defend against hate, made to me and other members of Berkeley College Republicans.

On the day of the bake sale, I worked at the table selling the cupcakes and was somewhat prepared for strong opposition. Yet, I never expected students to come up to the table and call me a “token” or “disgrace to Latinos.” I expected more from students that attend one of the best universities in California and the nation. These students assume that because of my background and my skin color, I should automatically support S.B 185, but my background only furthers my opposition to the bill. I was born here in California, but both my parents are immigrants from Peru who came to this country with nothing. At one point, my father was balancing two jobs while my mother worked and took care of me. My father and mother have struggled and worked unbelievably hard to get where they are and to give me the opportunity to get an education and life they never could. Obviously I could not let my parents down, so I worked hard in community college to get high grades while at the same time being heavily involved in local and regional level student government. So why would I want to diminish the value of being accepted into UC Berkeley? No longer would all the work that my parents and I accomplished have the same value. People, and even future employers, would see my acceptance to the university as being based on my skin color and not merit. I am more than just brown.

However, my opposition is built on much more than just my background. As a society, I believe we need to move past having laws that treat people differently based on skin color, even if it is positive treatment. Passing a law that gives preference to certain skin colors only heightens racial tensions. Putting aside the fact that S.B 185 is unconstitutional, the bill simply does not make sense. The bill states, “The University of California may, and the California State University may, consider race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, geographic origin, and household income, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions, so long as no preference is given.” How do you consider something and not give it preference? Even if one could consider but not give preference, then why even consider? With all this being said, I am not blind to the inequality of opportunity in attending a UC or CSU. It is obvious that a student with a 3.6 GPA from Oakland to a student with a 3.8 GPA from Beverly Hills do not come from an equal playing ground. The latter student comes from a city that is wealthier with better schools and less crime. Hence, a bill should be put forth that considers factors like these and others like household income, and give preference to students who come from more difficult backgrounds and are still performing well academically. This would be the best manner in which to improve diversity on campus without increasing racial tensions and moving our society backwards. People should remember what Martin Luther King once said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 

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