By Chris B. Bennett
The Seattle Medium
Once again, we see racial insensitivity rear its ugly head – this time at the University of Washington as it appears that the UW Republicans will host an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” this Friday.
The event, according to social media posts, in response to the passage of I-1000 by the state legislature last Sunday, will take place outside the HUB on the campus of the University of Washington and apparently will feature items for sale that are priced according to race: $1.50 for Asians, $1.00 for Whites, $.50 for African American and Hispanic, and free for Native Americans. Oh, and by the way, they have an additional line item, reminiscent of something you might see in a slave auction flyer, that says there is an additional $.25 discount for women.
The organization, which touts itself as “The Best Party On Campus”, in an attempt to draw attention to their efforts to repeal I-1000 has shown once again why we need diversity, equity and inclusion on college campuses throughout the country. When left alone in isolation these able minds swell in bias, bigotry and prejudice based on what they see portrayed in the media and other the various forms of social media that highlight negative images that don’t necessarily represent the norms in our society, and blindly influence their perceptions of others. These young leaders don’t have to go very far to see that there are great minds that are equal to and even greater than their own that come from the very communities that they try to ridicule and degrade with their insensitive rhetoric towards women and minorities. There are many great African American, Native American, Latino and women scholars on the campus of the University of Washington. I would venture to say that a significant number of them might have higher GPA’s than some of the racially misguided members of the organization in question.
In 1998, opponents of affirmative action did away with affirmative action, via I-200, based on their perceptions about the use of quotas to reach affirmative action goals. Their primary argument was that “unqualified” applicants for schools, jobs and contracts were being admitted to schools, getting jobs and contracts based on a system that they alleged prioritized race over competence, and “penalized” more qualified applicants. We can point to many examples that refute this uninformed theory. I can name a number of high-level doctors, lawyers, engineers, patent holders, Ph.Ds and others who were given an opportunity based on affirmative action policies and have excelled in their chosen profession. However, the opposition to I-1000 makes no sense because, although it does reinstate affirmative action policies in the state of Washington, it STILL DOES NOT allow the use of quotas in affirmative action policies utilized by any state or local agency.
I can tell you first-hand, how some state agencies, municipalities and other local government agencies hid behind I-200 as a way to avoid outreach to African Americans, women and other protected classes of our society. If you don’t promote the opportunities to these communities how can you expect to get qualified candidates? In some cases, it is alleged that some organizations even went as far as to strike line items for recruitment and outreach to minority populations completely out of their budget. Why? So, they could, in some cases, exclusively provide opportunities to friends and family members of people already working within the agency/department/system.
In a city that is supposed to be the “Beacon of Diversity” like the Emerald City of Seattle, you would think that initiatives for diversity, equity and inclusion would be met with open arms. You would believe that engaging dialogues would take place that would promote culture, cultural awareness and racial sensitivity and understanding. And you would believe that people who say that “people should be judged on merit and character”, would actually practice what they preach. Obviously, if the UW Republicans actions as it relates to the “Bake Sale” are an indication of what the next generation of leaders in our community will look, think and act like… our children will definitely have their work cut out for them.
Through the eyes of an ink barrel, may peace be unto you!
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