(Courtesy of NAACP Connect)
Despite making a decision that incited immediate concern and protest from members of the UC Berkeley student and staff community, the Berkeley College Republicans club moved forward with plans in late September to host an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” – a bake sale organized in opposition to a piece of Affirmative Action legislation in the state of California. Though Governor Jerry Brown would later move to veto the bill, The Berkeley College Republicans did more than just express their opposition to SB 185, members went on to create a racist and sexist tiered structure for the pricing of baked goods.
UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union joined with a coalition of over 250 participant’s and made their presence known by dressing in black, and marching to the chant of “It’s our duty to fight for our freedom” and “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Their march culminated in a silent teach-in where participants laid together in solidarity. Below is UC Berkeley Sophomore and Black Student Union Community Affairs Co-Chair, Erma A. Sinclair’s account of how despite blatant racism and sexism, many of her peers stood up for what was right.
Our actions signified a unified front against racial and gender inequality on the Campus of UC Berkeley. On that day we made a statement about the racial inequalities that have intensified the cultural climate in our community. UC Berkeley has a policy that fails to support ethnic studies education and programming. As such, the ignorance that exists at this prestigious university is hindering the experiences of young students like me. “Isms” have conditioned, degraded and plagued us with unfairness.
I have always wanted to impact my circumstance and on September 27, 2011, I did just that. On that day, I would be involved in a protest that would mark the moment that I could boldly walk in the footsteps of my idols. It was my opportunity to fulfill my responsibility to the fight for equality that I and so many others have long been denied. It was a truly remarkable experience.
I remember waking up that morning and being overcome with expectations, anxiety and pride. I contemplated the moment that we would lay down together on Upper Sproul Plaza in opposition to the Increase Diversity Bake Sale. I thought of the attire for the protest -all black. I wanted to embody the persona of Angela Davis. My outfit consisted of a black silk top which would exude prestige, swaying with elegance and fearlessness. I wore black “combat” boots that exemplified my readiness for a full out war if need be. My black shades worked to do more than just protect my eyes from the sun, but they served as protection from the stares of others who where ignorant to my struggle and confused by my actions. Finally, my Afro was big and shined to perfection. I not only looked the part, but I felt the part too. From the moment we joined hands and walked out to Upper Sproul Plaza, to the moment we laid down in objection to the Bake Sale, until we rose again, I felt empowered.
For as long as I can remember, I have heard about, read about and watched individuals and the movements they were a part of change my world as an African-American. While I idolize these individuals I have always set myself apart in terms of my ability to make an actual difference. However, on September 27, 2011, a coalition of freedom fighters emerged on UC Berkeley’s campus and took our place on the front lines of this fight.