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Kevin Army

Kevin Army
Oakland, California, United States
August 19
Formerly posing as Yserba Berrington, now just posing as myself. In a former life I worked on music creatively for a living. Now I'm a hardworking slacker and occasional writer for no money at all, and I like it that way. I post fiction, ramblings, songs, photos, videos, whatever I feel moved to do. I'm kind of directionless. Welcome!


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SEPTEMBER 27, 2011 4:39PM

The Racist Bake Sale At UC Berkeley Today

Rate: 23 Flag



Part 1


Being a bit out of the loop, I didn't learn about the impending Berkeley Pay By Race Bake Sale until late the night before. Being a punk rocker at heart forever, I was immediately drawn to the offensiveness of the whole thing.

The event is a protest against a bill that would bring affirmative action back to the UC Berkeley campus. The idea is to sell off baked goods priced with discounts for race and gender.

Before I go further, let's be clear. I'm for affirmative action. I'm a liberal, and I'll admit I'm for government interference with our social problems. I think our country has made great strides with it's racial issues, and I think it's still got a long way to go.

All that said, I'm also for offensive things that are well thought out, that provoke and make people think. We don't really consider this stuff enough, because if we did, we'd be farther along. Punk rock was provocative and shocking, and you may not realize it, but it left the world a better place.

The movement of these sales, which have happened at several campuses recently, reminds me of something I would have done at that age. The sales are being put on by student republican groups. It sounds more like performance art then anything else to me, and though I don't particularly agree with them, I'm glad they're doing something that will make us all think about how we feel about this issue.

There will be a day when they're right, when we don't need to legislate to give an advantage to the less advantaged segments of our country. I hope we're all open to when that is. And I hope someone does something to let us know that it's time. So for my part, I'll go, watch what happens, and probably buy a cupcake mostly because I just can't say no to sugar.


Part 2




So at 9:30 this morning, I ran out of the house, camera and video cam in hand, went and picked up my friend Linda Seccaspina, and we got ourselves to Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley Campus just in time. I convinced Linda it would be interesting for us both to post about this, so she's done a photo blog today on OS.

It was pretty easy to spot, there was a crowd of reporters and onlookers. The first strange thing I noticed was that of the 2 people sitting at the bake sale table, one was an older black gentleman who couldn't possibly have been a student, certainly not your average student, and he was doing all the speaking.

There were students holding up signs, so I took pictures of them and approached them asking who the man at the table was. I quickly found out that the sign holders were not allowed to speak. The student Republican group that was doing this protest limited speaking to 4 of it's members. I found this disappointingly ironic for a group that is using free speech to defend it's offensive behavior.

There were also intermediary members who approached nosy people like me and hooked us up with the ordained spokespeople. I ended up talking to one of those student spokepeople, and when I asked him about the irony of the no speaking policy for a free speech event, he gave me some double speak convoluted response, claiming it's what all activist groups do. Not any activist group I've ever been around.

So, sadly, I went into this with high hopes for a disagreeable but awesome spectacle, sure I would walk away with respect for these young protestor people. Instead, they lost me with their attempts to control their own and their message. They also all seemed kind of unpleasant, and I noticed after about an hour the young man I spoke with was looking pretty tired and worn down.

A bit into it, a couple of other groups appeared. A satirical pair of guys mixing Harry Potter into the thing. They kind of ran out of steam pretty quickly, but they added a little something. Then the very well spoken opposition showed up. They were all allowed to talk, and I appreciated how well informed they were. Perhaps a little too well informed, and I forgot to ask if they were students. Someone asked the man who appeared to be the leader if he was a student, and he kind of waffled his way through various credentials like he was a law student, though I don't think he said where.

My favorite group was the free baked goods kids. They weren't taking any obvious sides, they just wanted to undercut the pricing of the Republicans. They were friendly and their free baked goods looked a lot better then the sliding scale offerings at the table. They even asked me if I wanted to help pass stuff out. I declined, wanting to get back home and write this up.


Part 3




I don't claim to be a reporter. Maybe an observer at best. I just couldn't help but go see this in person, and writing a blog was a great excuse to interact with the participants. I see this trend where the extreme right is acting more counter culture then the extreme left. I recently wondered if the Teaparty has become the new punk rock. Certainly these Republican students were being very punk rock.

If nothing else, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I often forget what a nice campus Berkeley is. I got to hang out with Linda, which is always awesome. And I got to experience something new and different. Overall, it was a pretty good event, even if I ended up being disappointed with it's perpetrators. This is what democracy is all about. This was my first attempt to do a kind of “investigative” piece, and I found out saying I write a blog went over almost as well as if I said I was with CBS. The internet has made reporting and observing the news possible for all of us, and that's one giant leap in the right direction.

And no, I did not purchase any of the baked goods on the table.


Here's a video with brief interviews with both sides. Many thanks to everyone for speaking to me! I took the photos above, the bottom photo is by Linda, capturing me out in the field!



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HOLY toledo.. you are fast.. I am going to watch the video once I post your link..
Brilliant my dear friend and thanks for calling me.
Talk about a failed educational system. Did those kids take any history courses?

Did the bill pass the legislature? If so there's no chance in hell Brown will veto it - or am I still confused?
Linda- Big hug back!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the photo!
So interesting. Glad you brought us the story, thanks to Linda too.
Elijah- At least they're doing something.
Kate- I wish I'd have thought of that for a question!!
I just watched the video.. what a bunch of idiots.. You believe in something yet you are forced to remain mute.
A sad and misguided protest in my opinion. ~r
Sheila- Thanks!!
Joan- Ultimatly, I think the sadness of the event overcame my joy of the offensiveness, if that makes sense. Thanks for reading!
To be fair to Berkeley students, there is a history there about affirmative action at that campus especially that caused a lot of problems at one point too, since one group that wasn't white was the one most affected by it, since they do better than whites on tests and gradewise too, and found it a hard sell since they weren't a part of that dispute, historically speaking. Maybe we'll just never get over that dispute either. Using race a variable in a state action, like admissions to a state college, seems problematic on equal protection grounds, although using it because of diverse backgrounds being desired the courts have found reasonable, and used to be done a lot because of geography, for example.If you saw the 92 riots, and their nature as to who against who, you wouldn't try such a provocative tactic, more than likely.
Maybe you'll think of something to do tomorrow.
A cursory look at history shows us a couple things:

1. The Klan and Birch Society were always excluded from the mainstream Right's events- until Affirmative Action, instructive, n'est ce pas?

2. To be a Punk (i are fugs, dolls, pistols, yawn, etc., agent orange surf punk) you have to have something to rebel against, like an Iron Maiden, not a charge card from mommy.

What's happened is the lack of equivalency in media is so pronounced it is even visible in your writing. Not one of these young turk(ies) would last a day in the environments they expect others to climb out of with no help. Fascinating, as Sen. McQuack is fond of saying ...

Auwe (Alas)

ps- I was at people's park, and it seems wall st. may cop that look very soon, I certainly hope so.
Oahu- Thanks for your comments. 1) I missed the years where the Klan were ever included. Protected by free speech regretably, but they've always been exluded as far as I can remember. 2) Why is it when someone rebels against the liberal side (which I'm very on), we want to discount the rebellion? I think we need to consider why they're doing this, why it's so important to them. 3)Not totally sure what you mean by the first part, but yes, these kids don't look like they could endure a whole lot.
Although it would effect all of us kind of badly, I look forward to Wall St becoming the next peoples park too. Maybe. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them.
Don- I know it's got a complex history behind it, which is why even though I don't agree with the bake sale people, I welcome their efforts to get a discussion going,even if it's misguided.
I think you're right, if they saw any of the riots in the past, they'd probably have a little more sensitivity. Hopefully.
Also- Tomorrow is for sleeping in.
Interesting. While it's true protests have designated speakers I am unaware of any that say that no one else can speak! It seemed like even those "designated speakers" were reluctant to actually say or discuss anything with any depth.
Amigo- you are making me feel old, aiiiyaa. OK, 1. -The Klan was a normal aspect of "WASP" Churches from 1915 to 1964 (one can argue to today in some cases, quite easily). This means they had signs right out front (all sundown towns) saying, in effect, sponsored by KKK, Klan meeting tonight, and so on. Remember, this is with full support of nearly all Protestant Churches- I won't do your research for you, but even the History Channel on tee-vee (im guessing you may not watch the tube) has documentaries spelling it all out. 2. - The "Iron Maiden" is Margaret Thatcher, enemy of Lydon, Idol, Strummer, et al. I, apparently stupidly, thought this reference was nearly transparent.

Now, these "punks" have NOTHING to rebel against except Civil Rights- that is not "Left". FYI- WE rebelled against the Left- not some loser repub scrub crew- it was called Chicago 68, um, the Dem convention- no olvidar.

All this is very easy to discuss in Oak/Berk- elder states-persons all over: find one!
During WWII, In Holland, if you turned in the name of a Jew it was worth 2.50 guilder.... that would buy a lot of cup cakes back then....
Painting- That's what dissapointed me so. If I tried to participate in a protest, and was told I couldn't say anything, I'd be out of there fast.
Oahu- I am not trying to make you feel old! I'm not a Klan expert, I'll look into it before I say too much, though I'm guessing if they were mainstream, it was in a limited, even if large area.
Why does punk mean left? Punk is an energy and attitude more then anything to me, and I'm seeing that attitude more on the right. I'm not endorsing it. It makes me sad. We don't see eye to eye, but I appreciate your input.
I thought it was a clever idea even though I support affirmative action. But muzzling the actual students and a shifty spokesman?? Sounds like they know they have a few wingnuts and aren't going to let them speak for attribution.
Abrawang- I got the impression the people in charge are control freaks. Maybe one of those kids is a potential wingnut, but isn't the whole idea a little wingnutty anyway? Thanks for the comment!
Glad you caught that on video. Speaks for itself.
Scarlett- it really does. Thanks!
I have been woefully negligent reading my favorites on OS since I began a new job, but so glad I dropped in to read this. Loved your perspective and the video was FANTASTIC! Not being able to speak at a free speech rally--talk about irony. I could see you as a regular contributor on a Bay Area news channel. I'd watch you daily!
Woohoo!! Editor's Pick!!
Excellent article Kevin. I love your take on this issue.
congrats on the ep..HUGGGGGGGGGG
lschmoopie- Thanks! I hope the new job is going well. It was fun being a reporter for a day, but I don't think I could take the pressure doing it all the time. Linda imposed a deadline on both of us, and that was stressful! But a blast too...
Susie and L- Thanks!
Linda- Congrats back at you!!
Kevin.. I am such a deadline witch aren't I ?
snap snap hahaha
"Being a punk rocker at heart forever, I was immediately drawn to the offensiveness of the whole thing."
This is my favorite line : )

Kind of a strange brand of offensive, with no clear message and the penchant for even controlling their own? *sigh*
Thanks for going and letting us know what's going on with the Berkeley Repubs...
Berkeley Republicanss, an oxymoron in itself?
Linda- Someone had to make a deadline!
Just Thinking- "a strange brand of offensive". You are so right, that's what I couldn't resist.

Neat to see Linda in the video.

I thought protests were for as much shouting by everyone as possible. Tho, come to think of it, I did participate in a silent peace protest thingy years ago. But everyone was silent - no spokespeople.
Rated. Lost my post. Reminds me of the times "back in the day" when I'd hang out at Berkeley, just to see what someone would be protesting "today." Never went to school there, though I participated in plenty of protests. (In my defense, I was going to school at a Community College over the "hills" in Pleasant Hill called Diablo Valley College.)

They got a huge soap box with this bake sale concept and I sort of admire their chutzpah for that. I wish they had approached it from a more interesting standpoint though. For instance, is affirmative action for white women appropriate when there are more women in college today than men? What about Asians? I think too often other "minorities" hide behind blacks, for whom affirmative action totally makes sense. But I'm sure the daughters of former Klan members appreciate the extra edge!
It is nice to see a writer, you, who is open-minded on the protest.

I find it illiberal at best, and condescending at worst (?), to assume that people of so-called other races need special help to get into a school. (It is also impractical. Lower schools and families and students have little incentive to improve their performances if they are of the belief that they will get some special treatment.)

So-called "race" is not a skill or a talent to be taken into consideration when selecting students for a school. Set your admission requirements and apply them the same to all.

That is liberal.
Myriad- You and me both thought the same thing about protests.
Dunniteowl- My college education consists of five years of DVC!! Not great credentials...
Letters- If you check out Linda's photo blog, I think she has a picture of the price structure for the sale, which has various prices for different groups.
Barbara- Thanks for the comment. I'm open minded about the protest, but I still think our country needs affirmative action to compensate for some things. I'm looking forward to the day I don't feel that way anymore.
I liked this. Good on you going to check it out. It's funny before even reading your piece I was thinking "Racist Bake Sale" would be a good punk band name. rated.
Joseph- the band would get attention at least! Thanks!
This whole thing is disturbing. When the playing field is really level, we will not need this discussion anymore. The fact that the conservatives have orchestrated such a controlled response to the issue speaks to the values that they espouse. Yuck!
i think next week, on saturday. the girl scouts are selling cookies to raise money for abortions, condoms, and morning after pills. this even will be followed by the boy scouts collecting recyclables, and using that money to purchase viagra, vaseline, and to pay for the legal services of scout masters accused sexual abuse. as always, all are welcome.
Oahusurfer - well I came from those neighborhoods and I do believe that the vast majority of people of all so-called colors can (and probably DO) get the nutrients they need in the states to compete in school. Are you alleging some sort of brain damage among so-called blacks? I'm sure you mean well, but that is pretty sad.

You are actually saying (???) that they have environmentally-induced damage or damage due to nutritional problems? If so, wow, a hell of a lot of so-called minorities are gonna take exception and if they DO have such a problem, getting in to college is the least of their problems and certainly not where I'm gonna put my efforts.

As someone who grew up hungry, I certainly take exception and YOU prove your point.

In America I do believe that minorities are as capable of learning and achieving as anyone else and that it is a "nicely meant" insult to imply that they are not .
Surfer - nearly all of the great thinkers of history, the great scholars, the great writers, the great musicians, the great poets, the great athletes DID come from poverty.

I'm not saying that is great, but they didn't need a special admit to a school based solely on their so-called "color". I think that is an insult and that it is racist, although meant in a nice way. It is not, in my view, at all liberal. I want people who need help to get it, but I also think it condescending to have different standards for anyone based on the color of their skin or sex.

And your anger is ... very odd.

Want something to really get angry about? How about the rotten schools (in general) in poorer neighborhoods and the parents who, unlike the Carters, the Bushes, the Obamas, etc., have their kids trapped in schools like that because they can't afford private ones? Give such parents vouchers and freedom to choose and we won't need different standards for "different" so-called races. And people would actually get, one hopes, an education.
Wow, the assumptions about "blacks" that I assume Surfer is making. And the assumptions, wrong by the way, that he makes about at least one of us.
And if you really feel that way Surfer, you should advocate for special standards for all people, of all so-called colors and so-called races, as well as each sex, who grew up in a family with an income below X or between the streets X and Y be given preference in admission to universities. And, if you are intellectually honest, of course you should argue that so-called "black" and other minorities who grew up in families that earn above X and outside of X and Y streets NOT receive any preference.
And, of course, the "racism" in the bake sale is to SHOW that preferences are (in my view well-intended and not nasty, but still) racist in nature, if not intent. (I have an inkling that this is why these people on the "other side", that is those holding these sales, so P*** off people who live more on the Left.)
Surfer - see my remarks about how you should then give preferences based NOT on "race", but on economic background and neighborhood or origin or upbringing.

And I did grow up poor. But my parents bought regular food at the grocery stores and cooked it, like most folks do in poorer neighborhoods. I have spent plenty of times in homes that line those "mean streets" and most parents are managing to put food on the table. It is rather insulting to imply that they can't, actually.

People who are so poor that they suffer brain damage will not be helped by preferences. They may need to be removed from homes if there is neglect.

I'm not saying that people cannot be brain-damaged or suffer all types of damage from a lack of nutrition. (Where did you GET the idea that I was?) But this is NOT the case of the vast majority of people in the position to be applying to colleges. Unless you are saying that most people who grew up in rough or poor neighborhoods (or something akin to that) actually have brain damage. And, like I said, if you are, you should advocate for special preference to those people, regardless of "color" and argue AGAINST it for people of "color" who grew up in "middle-class" homes in good neighborhoods.

But actually, you are just, nicely intended I'm sure, so unbelievably condescending to the poor. Now that, as a kid, I'd not have done well with. Now it just cracks me up. We no good nuthins kin, really lernt us some a dat Shakespeare and listin a dat Mozart iffin we hiv a mind to.

It reminds me of Pete Seeger once saying in an interview that Aaron Copeland, a socialist (Seeger claimed) wrote music too difficult for the proletariat. They, per Seeger, didn't sing "classical" music. Good GOD, how insulting. What bigotry. I can assure you that some of the best classical singing I ever did was surrounded by "blacks" in facilities way East of Sepulveda and well into SE L.A.

Catch ya another time.

Good God! My dad would have laughed you out of his home.
Well Surfer, I see no shame in admitting I think about a post and add more as I go along - as well as responding to you.

I mean, responding.

What you are talking about is poverty - and that is not confined to "blacks". Although "blacks" are of greater percentage in that category, I admit. But since your concern is poverty - do you favor only having such programs based on economics - family income - and neighborhood? SHOULD Michael Jackson's kids get a break? Should the Obama girls? Or, if you are going to be intellectually true to YOUR argument, should it not be extended, that break, to all offspring of the poor? Of all "color"?
Where do you GET this baloney? I never said ANYTHING about lazy and shiftless. Good Lord!

I am saying that I don't think most poor people in America - of any color by the way - have brain damage (and, by the way, I think most capable of learning pretty much anything they like). I DO think many poor are confined to crappy schools. I'd start working there if I were you.
Two words: Larry Elder. Give him a try Surf. You may at least hear some of "the other side".

Off to bed and rest my damaged brain.
I once baked penis cookies, but they were multiracial, and free.

And the hippies bug me too.

Manhattan- Someone should have flown you out here to set up a table. You could have been on the news too!
I like your punk perspective on the issue, and the way you consider the positives in this without rushing to one political side or the other. Great post!
Chiller Pop- Thanks!!
Kevin, you and I have both come out of punk rock communities in our past and, for myself, I would align myself more with a whole history of outsider/boho realms, and so I get how provocative/agit-prop/satire, etc can be used to provoke conversations and make people think. But for me, outrageousness and provocation aren't necessarily interesting to me in and of themselves. Before there is a "what?" or "how?," there has to be a "why?"

The "why?" is a crucial for me and focussing on that "why?" is why I can't see these people as rebels -- which for me implies moving something forward -- but reactionaries. They are being snarky brats in a concerted effort to turn back the clock.

As for "why not punk rock?," as someone who was involved in punk from the early days, "energy" was simply a byproduct -- first and foremost it was about the ideas, speficially about breaking things down/open -- hence why a lot of that second wave/hardcore stuff didn't speak to me as a lot of it just seemed reactionary. This seems more "classic rock" a la Ted Nugent than "punk rock" a la the Sex Pistols.

That they were ordered not to speak does not suprise me in the least and is in fact exactly what I would expect from these "protesters." Basically, that Naomi woman you interviewed eloquently verbalized my thoughts to a T.

Thanks for doing the reporting and for providing the video.
Surfer, you never once answer any of the questions I have raised. If the ravages of childhood nutritional problems are so great - and by the way, I did say, more than once too, that those need to be addressed IN CHILDHOOD - should not preferences be for all people of any "color" who were raised in families with incomes under X and who grew up in areas deemed "deprived"?

And should not preferences be denied all people who did not grow up such no matter their "color"?

Well, I can assure you that the next time I'm in South Central, I can find plenty of people who will be mighty put out at the idea that they have some lasting damage from childhood that precludes their competing for admission to any school on an equal level and I can also find plenty of people who are pretty damn sure they are raising their children not rich, but well.

Good luck with your anger management. Maybe something happened to YOU in childhood! And try responding and not just calling names.

And I would like to see that study (studies) you refer to that show that only "blacks" and racial "minorities" suffer damage in America from poverty that is so great that they have some damage still relevant to their competitive skills at the age of 18.

Wanna improve the opportunities for those from poverty? Give them the chance to leave failing schools, via vouchers if need be.

Also, why are we persisting in the myth that Berkeley or most other universities in America are SO special that a Jr. College is never to be considered? People who CAN"T get into these "elite" institutes of, often, propaganda, can attend a Jr. College - where I've taught by the way - and get, I submit, often better education for their first two years and then, very often be accepted as transfer students.

And "black" folk CAN sing opera and do ballet too! It is amazing what they can do. Those hillbilly whites ain't bad either!

Good God!
Surfer - I never once mentioned the "pulling up by the bootstrap" stuff. Not once. I just believe that most people, even the poor, can be educated to the level necessary to compete on an equal level for admission to college.

And pretending that preferences in college do the trick simply keep us from addressing the first need - childhood education as well as work by parents, communities, churches, others in the home to help those who need help in ensuring their kids get what they need to compete. (Fathers in the home is probably step one and encouraging men to be fathers in the home to children they create is something families and society can do.) Freedom of choice in schools is another. Freedom from bad schools is the result. And on and on. But, with you surfer, I think it is hopeless. I mean, I'm wasting my time.

Catch a good wave (or whatever one should say) and thanks for the chat.

Like the song Kevin. A favorite.
Surf, I never denied that there are poor people of all "colors" in America. Or that kids in trouble need help. I have said OVER AND OVER that they need to be free to leave bad schools. I also doubt that any damage from their bad environments is addressed by preferences. Want to help them? Get them out of bad schools at a young age. Give their parents choice in schools. Fire bad teachers. Encourage fathers to stay with their families. Frown on drug use and alcohol abuse. And, lastly, encourage all kids to be all they can be and to know that they can compete against others. If someone is not ready for, say, Berkeley, encourage the junior colleges, and kids that are truly being damaged by bad nutrition, if in an abusive situation, may need to be removed from homes.

BTW, you haven't said if this preference should extend to all poor or only people of so-called color. If they are half of a person of color should they get have a preference? And if they are poorer but "white" should they get more?

It is an insult to poor people and minorities to assume they need this help in admissions. I think it is better to ensure that as many as can DO make it into college on their own.

I think the idea of children of alumni getting preferential treatment is despicable.

I never denied there are poor. (Where do you get this stuff?)

I don't believe the vast, vast, vast majority of poor and/or minorities in the US suffer irreversible damage from their childhood nutrition. IF THEY DID, it sure needs a more immediate addressing than giving them an assist into some silly university. I have known tons of poor of all "colors" in my life and none of them were unable or unaware of how to feed their kids.

The elitism of that idea is rather unpleasant.

It is horrible that "blacks" suffered so in the past. But that day of legal discrimination has been gone for some time now. The average "black" is as capable as the average "white" of getting into Berkeley (for example) if they work hard, are freed from bad "government" schools, have families that push them to excel, etc.

And two more words for you: Larry Elder. KABC. Check him out and good luck.
And Surf, have the last word. I won't be back. Hope you check out Elder, but you probably won't.
LOL. I showed this to my son (Cal '09) and he just kind of rolled his eyes.
that was a good video - well done.

I cannot relate to this at all but like you I wd say at least they thought of doing something - something is always better thn nothing at all in our world. Thanks .