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Left Hand, Right Hand
The bake sale that divided Berkeley left Cal student Jeffrey Joh unable to take a side.

By Jeffrey Joh

The girl at the Diversity Bake Sale asked what race I was. And that sparked the age-old question: Does eating kimchee at home make me Asian? I was born in Alabama. Doesn’t that make me more American than most Americans?

As I watched my Republican friends hand out "diversity" cupcakes and my liberal friends hand out "cupcakes of conscience," I wondered where do I stand?  Asians stand to lose the most to Affirmative Action. I am uncomfortable with legalizing racism to give certain groups a leg up. But I would like to see more diversity than Chinese, Korean and Indian. Perhaps the policy should be reframed to focus on the benefits of multicultural education.

I am jealous of those with minds made up, able to hold up signs and yell with pride. I can’t even decide if I’m Republican or Democrat. I've met Mike Huckabee, who has my grandpa’s sweetest smile. I cherish a photo with George Bush on the distant stage. Does that make me Republican? I’ve waited 17 hours in line for Bill Clinton’s autograph, and was most excited to meet Al Gore. Am I a Democrat?

As one of the few residents of the progressive co-ops on campus who doesn’t smoke, eat vegan or study social welfare, I have gained a reputation as a conservative -- a title I would have never attained before coming to Berkeley.

At an emergency town hall in the student union, where the predominantly black and Hispanic crowd was organizing opposition to the bake sale, a friend said “Hello! I didn’t know you support us!"

Perhaps it's OK to take both sides. I enjoy being both a Republican and a Democrat. I study science, which is unkind to idealogues who think they're always right. I support the Diversity Bake Sale and the emotion, enthusiasm and action that it brings.

So should I take the "Diversity" cupcake or the "Conscience" cupcake? For now, I’m going to have both cakes, and eat them too.

With a bipartisan Perspectives, I'm Jeffrey Joh.

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