Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tasteless or Racist?

Sweden's culture minister yesterday triggered angry calls for her resignation after she was pictured cutting a cake that resembled a native African woman.

The cake, put on exhibition by the Museum of Modern art in Stockholm, was designed to shed light on female circumcision.

Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth and her hosts obviously had a bout of fun, but members of the Association for African Swedes were not titillated. A spokesperson said if anything, it makes a mockery of racism and worsened matters for victims of female circumcision.

Makode Linde, who came up with the idea of the cake, said it had been misunderstood.

The black cake, part of an exhibition on World Art Day, was part of the artist's project illustrating stereotypes of black people through history. 

I struggle to weld the two ideas together in my head: 'bizarre, black cake' and 'anti-racist exposition' - it just doesn't gel. This is certainly not an exhibition; it is a spectacle; an opportunity to fuel racial prejudices under the carapace of art.

I hate it when ethnic minorities pull out the R card (racism card) at the slightest opportunity. I think a lot of us wallow in a victim mentality and I can't take that, but this takes the cake.
 It is beyond bizarre, especially the wailing head on top of the cake - that is stupendously outrageous.
 I still can't put together a single paragraph that can adequately aggregate what I'm thinking and feeling right now. It's crazy.

What do you think?


  1. This is such a thoughtful piece. I say that because I have read it twice, looked at the pictures and I am stunned by what I have just read. I agree with you that the weird cake does not in any way correlate sensibly with the theme of the event. Female circumcision in Africa is a serious issue, in my opinion a criminal and barbaric act. The organisers of the exhibition failed to think through what they were doing. Thousands of women have been victims, they have been violated and robbed by this crazy act, I feel they got it wrong the way they went about it. An apology may not be good enough but they must apologies publicly for this shallow event that the Swedish Culture minister attended.
    I support organisations that are campaigning for female circumcision to be stopped immediately. I "would have expected" a government minister to know better than to put up a show of ridicule, laughing publicly and cutting a bizarre cake that looks like a picture from a horror movie?. That "beats" me totally! Thanks for this piece, another thought provoking piece, keep up the good work!

    1. Many thanks for your comment. I totally agree, it was a shallow event that belittles the gravity of female circumcision. Indeed,the Swedish minister owes the African association an apology. I just cringe to think how it would feel if I were there as an African watching such an utterly distasteful exhibition.

      Once more, I appreciate your comment.

  2. I think the actions of the organisers including the Minister smacks of ignorance. They clearly do not understand the issue of female circumcision in Africa they claim to promote.

    On the wider issue of racism, I believe it is well and truly rife even though I accept some ethnic minorities could be guilty of playing the race card.

    Part of it is down to outright racism, some down to ignorance and others due to political correctness. The last two can be minimised through education but not a lot can be done about the first.

    1. Naija4life, I think a lot of it has to do with our perception of the 'other'. Whites see blacks as the another specie of human beings and vice versa. Probably for them, the exhibition held little more significance than an opportunity to get together and have fun. Education is the key. When you meet widely travelled people, they always hold fairer views and perspectives. I appreciate your comment.

  3. I did not watch the video, because the pictures themselves looked horrendous and disgusting. I've got nothing to say. Yes the Swedish Minister's actions are distasteful, but ranting and raving over them will only give her and her follies even more joy and happiness so 'no comment'.
    Female circumcision. I am hoping that all tribes in Africa have stopped that. Women do not need that kind of 'empowerment' to succeed. As for racism, I agree that the key is not to fall into the trap of becoming 'racist' in attitude without unknowingly.

    1. Dlaw, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately female circumcision is still taking place. This event has done little to shed light on the issue.

  4. Today I met a man where I went to buy chicken and chips who as I was walking out asked me to sit opposite him and talk. Instead of walking out with my take away package, I sat opposite him and talked and he was shocked thanking me again and again for being the first black person to have ever shown him respect!
    It turned out that he's from Eastern Europe (Albania), has admired blacks from an early age from watching films, but said that he was rather afraid to talk to even those standing outside (whether male or female) because of the harsh derisive response he usually recieved. We all walked off in our separate directions, but it just got me thinking that even blacks are considered 'racist' by some other tribes and may not even know it! So whatsoever your actions, do unto others as you'll like done to you...Minister of Sweden, please take note.

  5. Wow, Dlaw, that's a great story. Thanks ever so much for sharing. We always think of other races as being racist but every race has the potential to be racist even without knowing it. Nice one.

  6. I actually agree with some of the posters here and i will say its has more to do with ignorance than racism. She probably did not know the boundaries and legitimately found it funny, who knows.

    The bottom line is just maybe black people shouldn't be so sensitive about this racial issue then the world will come to accept the black man as being confident in their skin tone and grow to respect the black race more- Chuks

  7. Sometimes it baffles me that racism still exists, regardless of the form in which it raises its ugly head. Humans are educated enough to know that racism should have ended since the time of slavery.

    No one can genuinely understand the motive behind that cake except the Minister and the artist. But one thing I know is they didn't think of the consequences of their actions before making such an outrageous cake.

    As blacks, we really need to stop nurturing the idea of racism in our minds. The more we nurture it, the more inferior we appear. I believe that when other races realize that we've developed a neutral reaction to the idea of racism, they too will stop behaving like kids. We need to show them how poised we can be, then maybe the world would be a better place.