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April 17, 2012

5 Ways To Eat Your Racist Cake & Have It Too

Swedish Minister of Culture celebrating with ”n*g*er cake”

Today, Sweden got put on the map with a viral-ready, documented display of obvious racism and obliviousness.

“A macabre scene with racist undertones took place on Saturday when Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth attended a tax funded party for the Stockholm cultural elite. The self-proclaimed “anti-racist” Liljeroth declared the party officially started by slicing a piece of a cake depicting a stereotypical African woman.” 

Source

The whole scene can’t get worse.  It is like a racist nightmare: They are all laughing! It is like they took that knife and cut through the political correctness straight to the unsaid truths of racist thought: Black bodies are exaggerated and hideous caricatures and Black pain is not unique enough to illicit sympathy.

The symbolism of the whole affair is poignant.  They are literally eating a black body as they laugh at its (performed) pain.  The fact that this huge error in judgement, common sense and plain decency comes from the anti-racist faction of government in Sweden does not surprise me.  What passes for anti-racism in Europe is people with a deep white savior complex  that allow them to keep patronizing ideas about people of color while meeting their own needs to appear good and charitable.

Since the appearance of racial equity has become more important than actual racial equity what we have here for consumption on a table in Sweden is a logical outcome of flawed racial logic.  I have no doubt, however, that the jovial attendees of that racist tea time in Sweden will not go quietly into the night after apologizing in abundance. They will do what Europeans often do when confronted with clear evidence of their racist acts, they will stand their ground.  The playbook has already been written. Here are 5 ways they will respond:

1. An Apology That Is Not Really An Apology

“I sincerely want to apologize to everyone that may have been offended by our inappropriate attempt at humor.” This means that not everyone is offended only sensitive people that we are being good by codling.  It also means that cutting a black cake lady’s vagina is nothing more than “inappropriate” behavior.  Look for one of these non-apologies coming to a press release near you.

2. Wait Until You Hear All The Facts!

This is the “Don’t rush to Judgement” defense that white folks throw out whenever the evidence is clear and indisputable.  A Swedish commenter has already started using this response: Listen man, you don't know the backstory behind this. I'll be frank, but neither do I. I do know however, since I'm a citizen of sweden, that my country - and especially my government - is extremely politically sensitive. I assume that there was a backstory to this, making it acceptable, I dont know that however, so I wont defend it. BUT I SUGGEST ALL YOU IGNORANT FUCKS WHO ARE BASHING THE SWEDISH GOVERNMENT, to look up the backstory. Until then, STFU.Listen man, you don’t know the backstory behind this. I’ll be frank, but neither do I. I do know however, since I’m a citizen of sweden, that my country – and especially my government – is extremely politically sensitive. I assume that there was a backstory to this, making it acceptable, I dont know that however, so I wont defend it. BUT I SUGGEST ALL YOU IGNORANT FUCKS WHO ARE BASHING THE SWEDISH GOVERNMENT, to look up the backstory. Until then, STFU.”  In other words, these are not the droids you are looking for.

3. My Black Friend Told Me It Was OK

Attention is the new currency and there is an increasing lust to get it by any means necessary. The word is that the performance artist that staged this whole this thing is black, Makode Linde, a black Swedish man. He hit jackpot with this story and  gets to paint himself as provocative, misunderstood, boundary-breaking, all of it.  Racism goes over real well in the art world and just like with Republicans in the USA,  the art world likes the most racist stuff to come from people of color.  This tactic works so well because if you criticize the racist content, you are an uncultured fool who does not GET art and you get accused of denying the artist’s freedom of expression.  A review of Linde’s work (see thumbnails below) show that he is not new to themes of race.  One of his synopsis says “Makode Linde uses mass cultural icons which he revamps into a new historically manipulated narrative. Contemporary western ideas of paradise and the romanticizing of exotica and the ‘simple life’ collide with history’s gruesome facts of slavery, apartheid and racism.” Source

While I’m not sure of Linde’s motivations, I’m pretty certain that he will benefit professionally because of it. He has given these pent-up liberals a chance to engage in racist behavior under an approving black gaze.  Black approval of white racism is almost always rewarded because it is such a valuable cover.

I’m sure the involvement of a black artist will be the point at which the issue ends for many media outlets.

4. You Don’t Appreciate The Irony/Art/Humor/Context In This Moment

I love art theoretically but I can’t lie, I don’t get most of it and this is no exception. This was painful to watch.  Really,  I had physical pain while watching the video above. I hate that black folks are always being asked to relish the joy of their own oppression.  Our oppression is ongoing, it is not securely tucked into the folds of history.  It is a wound that keeps being re-injured through rude stares, denied jobs, and our own dead bodies. It is bad enough that we are never given space enough to heal, but don’t ask us to laugh about it.

Europeans have a variation of this argument that contend minstrel racism is foreign to them.  It plays on the fantasy of a historically racially equitable Europe.  This attempts to give racist acts in Europe some sort of misunderstood yet non-racist history and context.  We saw this with the Blackface & Schwarze Pete nonsense.

5. We Are So NOT Racists

The Swedish will defend their inherent goodness with fervor.  They believe in their own goodness as much as they believe in the inherent primitive nature of people of color.   They will go on and on about how much anti-racists work they have done. They will bring out all of their black “friends” and get those people to vouch for their character.  They will pet kittens and hug orphans to try to give you some other image of them other than them laughing while cutting and eating pieces of a black lady cake crotch.


Give this whole fiasco maybe one news cycle. No one really wants to talk about race anyway and PR companies have figured out that they are constantly looking for an excuse to be look/walk away from a race conversation.  If they feel confused enough, they move on to other things.  Europe has reached the end of its enlightenment and is caught in the same white panic that they condescendingly accuse America of. As the population darkens in Europe, all bets are off.  There is no race card.  The dealer always wins.  There is a race cake though and I hear that it is painfully delicious.



About the Author

denise
Denise is a Guyanese-born, New York City raised, Berliner. She is a dreamer, writer, activist who sometimes bakes.




 
 

 
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  • Guest

    ‘I hate that black folks are always being asked to relish the joy of their own oppression.’ A-fvcking-MEN!

  • safie.jen

    I’ve been trying to make a comment on this for about ten minutes.  However, it’s so unbelievably offensive that I don’t even know where to start.   What can be done to protest this?

    • solchica

      You could write to the Minister of Culture’s Office.  This may help especially if you are Swedish. If not, encouraging your own government to issue a response from them would be good too. Moreover, this is a huge reminder that the struggle against racism continues and the days of simple identity politics are over.  You can’t just equate black man, liberal, gay man as feminist or anti-racist.  

  • safie.jen

    This is just appalling. The
    “female circumcision symbolism” as a CAKE is not only a horrible idea
    but what awareness it brings to the issue is immediately mocked and
    trivialized. I hope the culture minister does step down and African
    Swedes won’t be defined by this one, sickening artist.

    • solchica

       Sadly – I predict that she won’t step down.  Her not apology has already been circulated.  She was just innocently going about her business when she was forced to laugh, cut black lady cake and eat it in delight.  What a set-up. 

  • shaktinah

    I’ve already seen ways 2, 3 and 4 used by commenters on various pages to defend this event. From non-Swedes. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of them were white.

    • solchica

       I am meeting many Germans who are pulling many of these out of the bag in solidarity with Swedes.  When you have racism, who needs nationalism?

      • Coco81

        Seriously if you don’t like it in Europe why not move back to Guyana if it’s so terrible. If I found the people so distasteful I’d move back to my country.

        • Coco81

          And I also find it fascinating this global response to a thing that should have been dealt with natively.

          Mean while racist Arabs KILLS black people in North Africa and keep them
          as slaves up to this day yet you don’t write anything about that. Cake is apparently worst than that.

          • solchica

            I try to keep a database of all the jacked up things in the world so I could write about them but I’m short on time.  Just paste a link to your site where we could benefit from your insights on North Africa and other things that are way worse than the racist cake fiasco.

        • solchica

           Looks like coco got all comfortable.  I’m just here for the currywurst.  I dig Berlin except for the weather.  But even if I hated it here, I have the right to live anyplace with cable and criticize it, just like Europeans have the right to come to Guyana and complain about spicy food and mosquitoes. Trust me – my criticism is a public service, the way I give back.

          All of these people of color with all of this freedom. That must really piss you off. So since I loathe to piss off Coco81 and I’m a reasonable person, I promise that if you send me an open-ended ticket to Guyana, I will go.  I need to get my tan on!  But I may come back and then you would have to send me another ticket so that you can live in a Europe without me. 

          Make those tickets first class please.  I complain in economy.

  • Poppinlockin

    I am offended on so many levels. I can’t comprehend the sheer stupidity of such an act. I am beyond upset. I thought that people had woken up and this tells me its just not true

    • solchica

       It was not stupid on the level that it has our attention. But I think it was lazy artistically.  Like taunting a hungry man with food and being shocked at his aggression.  Linde knew this would be painful and that is why he did it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

    Not even considering race but only gender, I would think the women there would be offended. The Swedes pride themselves on striving for gender equality. Just goes to show how really “universal” and “inclusive” the women’s movement is.

    • solchica

       Race often trumps gender.  I think there is also the feeling of lack of moral authority that white folks have when confronted with racism however blatant.  I would wager that some of that laughter was nervous and reluctant but it was laughter nonetheless.  I don’t think the artist has fully explored how his blackness gave the participants permission and encouragement.   

    • TX2Hi

       PLease note this is the creation of a black man! The swedish minister was not right to smile I guess but unfortunately the even requred a cake be made. I don’t think I would have partaked of this but please not the sambo looking cake was a black mans creation. He deserved the hate. Check his facebook and note the angry comments.

  • http://currentsbetweenshores.blogspot.com/ Rose-Anne

    Denise, I also had a visceral reaction to watching this.  The racism is blatant but the misogyny is also terribly disturbing, a perpetuated by a black man no less.  That all those people in attendance saw nothing wrong with this is really what is wrong with this whole incident.  It’s sickening.  

  • jorgear

     Let´s eat CAKE of self-brain-mutilating-artists…. all of those who just because it´s cool and provocative go around the world pumping themselves with alcohol and drugs.

  • Davsanda

    racists and racism is just plain wrong

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shailja-Patel/596246258 Shailja Patel

    Brilliant. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/AfricasaCountry Africa is a Country

    We break down the Swedish Golliwog Cake fiasco/art project here: http://africasacountry.com/2012/04/18/swedish-cake/

    • solchica

       Thanks for the link. It was worth the read.

  • kwes1

    I imagine that the point of the artwork was something like: the people dismember a traditionally racist image of blackness for their own gain (in this case, for cake), and ignore the cries of pain of the artist, the individual being dismembered, in echo of Europe objectifying Africa, and dividing it up, causing pain and damage for the people, never fully acknowledging their humanity, seeing them only under the cloak of racist stereotypes. Those doing the cutting look embarrassed and stupid, but nonetheless laugh while cutting it… possibly this is a powerful and clever artwork which shows people how they respond to racist images.

  • K.

    Some things that could be mentioned for some context. Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth is a member of Moderaterna, which is the ruling party of Sweden. This party supported apartheid and refused to support boycots which other parties supported. Their youth section, MUF, was invited to apartheid South Africa as late as 1987. Moderaterna has recently even tried to change history here in Sweden as to say they did not support apartheid. Ulf Adelsohn, Lenas husband, made a very famous quote in 1985 about this; “If we boycot goods from South Africa, the poor niggers down there will get unemployed”. I think this very well could be a part of this set up. / A swedish girl

  • white swede

    You`re right denise, you didn´t get it. The whole, or main, point of this artwork (in MY interpretation at least) was to trap the culture minister, and to a lesser degree all of the (almost 100% white) “notables” of the art and culture world into getting caught in this extremely disturbing footage.
    You, like Swedish Centrum mot rasism (CMR) and the “Afro-swedish asociation” have extremely low tolerance for blacks (and other discriminated minorities i suppose) ironizing about their own stereotypes. I won´t enter into a debate that can really only relevantly be between blacks, but thats just not the universal opinion. Saying that all the people who do ironize just want to please white people don´t fit the facts. For example, rapper NAS called an album “Nigger” (not “nigga”) and I belive his fans are mostly blacks. 

    • All African

      Dear White Swede … Allow me to give you a hint of the black context. If you take a moment to consider that black people have had an extremely rough history of ill-treatment at the hands of other races (predominantly white) through slavery, colonialism, sconomic marginalization, racial segregation, etc .. then perhaps you might begin to see just how stupid this entire fiasco really is. The wounds inflicted on blacks through the ages have not even begun to heal and such depictions, whether you choose to define them as art or anything else can only achieve one outcome .. utter resentment. You can choose to run away from that fact .. but you can’t wish it away.

  • One opinion

    While I’ve yet to see the video, and don’t feel I need to, my first reaction was disgust, and my second reaction was that this artist my have pulled off the most evocative and impactful types of work. The art here was in how he managed to orchestrate this scene and capture a “liberal, cultured, sympathetic, and anti-racist” white person laughing and jovially hacking into the effigy of a screaming black woman. Regardless of the immediate and reactionary gut reaction this has on someone, the success of this work is the ability to portray an accurate depiction of how isolated from and oblivious these people are to their own actions.

  • Laszlo Hago

    Take a moment and ask yourselves why you consider this an act of rasism/misogyny.

    …………………..

    Because you CHOOSE to do so! If you just considered the cake and head being a human, never mind the gender and color, it could’ve been a white male cake, the ministers and the audiences reactions would be the same. The artwork would still be quite horrific and disturbing and weirdly funny but probably not considered rasist by anyone. The artist may have had an agenda but who are you to say that the audience’s laugh is a rasist laugh? I couldn’t help laughing a bit just as I laugh when I see a disturbing scene in a horror movie but I saw a human being screaming while getting cut not an act of rasism. It’s all up to you. You choose how to interpret any work of art.

    Go and engage in something that actually matters instead of crying over spilt cake.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

      Your response fits into Way To Eat Your Racist Cake and Have It Too #4. What makes the cake a racist image is that IT IS a racist image. The cake and artist are done up like caricatures which Europeans have used to depict Africans in the past. See minstrel shows and Tintin in Congo. Africans are not depicted as real people. The difference between this and Paris Hilton, e.g., getting hacked in House of Wax is that she looks like herself, a real person. Your reasoning that this is racism/misogyny only because I choose to see it is also flawed. Female genital mutilation of African women is very real not because I see it that way. It just is. And for the record if it was a white male cake, you’re right. In a society as white and homogeneous as Sweden’s, it wouldn’t have been considered racist, because that IS NOT racism. Racism is when one racial group uses its POWER to remain superior over another different racial group through laws and institutions.

      And you don’t spill cake. You drop it.

      • Laszlo Hago

        Really? You drop cake? Thanks, I didn’t know that. You have no sense of humor for sure. Anyway it’s a cake, and a work of art. Nobody is hurt but your feelings and that is only because you choose to be hurt. According to the artist (who is of african origin) his work has nothing to do with genital mutilation by the way. That is media’s and your interpretation. About my response fitting #4, you’re way off. I never said that you (meaning people hating it) don’t appreciate the irony etc in the work. I never even said I did. I just described my reaction to it. You deliberately misunderstand me saying it could’ve been a white male. What I was saying if you read properly is that it is a human being no matter the gender or color. The audience’s reaction would most probably be the same because it would be equally horrific no matter what race or gender the cake was made to resemble. The fact that it actually is a caricature of an african woman gives you the idea that it is racist which was the artist agenda but you don’t have to fall for that. Think of the cake as a human and you will understand what I mean. Ooops, I just dropped my milk… oh well…

        • solchica

          Yeah – black folks usually don’t have much of a sense of humor about parodies trivializing their history of oppression, racism and genocide.  Party poopers. Yo Laszlo, I hear Europeans find the raping of women and occupation of lands by Germany during WWII absolutely hilarious.  Now they have a sense of humor.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

          The problem with racism is indicative in your comment about humor in that I have the problem because I didn’t get the joke. Back to point #4. The problem of course isn’t that it was a bad joke or that person who told it just isn’t funny or perhaps doesn’t speak English well. Here is the artist in an interview and you’ll see that this piece IS about female genital mutilation: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/sweden-firestorm-over-cake-art-installation-0022178. These are not things I’m choosing to see but what actual IS. Sorry for being so limited in my thinking, but if there is an apple in a piece of art, I’m gonna see an apple, not an orange. I could also not choose to see the trans-atlantic slave trade as it was, but as a foreign work-placement program with a free cruise thrown in. You’re right! I feel so much better now.

        • Kitty

          “According to the artist (who is of african origin) his work has nothing to do with genital mutilation by the way. That is media’s and your interpretation.” Get real! The artist is not of African origin, he is a Swedish born half African. You see, there is a difference between the two, which perhaps could explain his ignorance on what the images could portray in the real world art or no art. Nothing to do with FGM? Really? I live in the country and FGM was the theme of the cake. 

  • Zax Khan

    Thank you for the brilliant article Denise. I posted a link on my fb-page and it has spread. I suggest that all of you who feel as appalled as I do drop a line to the Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and ask him to sack the minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth (eating the “cake”). His email is  fredrik.reinfeldt(a)riksdagen.se 
    Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sirma-Bilge/100002011013924 Sirma Bilge

    This is by far the finest and wittiest analysis. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • nanikk

      Denise’s post is no analysis but rather an emotional reaction to living in a world structured by racism as seen from it’s receiving end. Thus, it displays hurt and anger by recounting a summary of common forms racism may take. An analysis of racism, which is embedded in our world’s structures, would have to reflect upon its own point in these structures, something which Denise’s post adamantly avoids, but the picture and the stories behind it present an opportunity to do. Please see my post in reply to Cathy Dalton for a good place to start in case you’re interested.

      • solchica

         O – Thanks for your enlightenment Nanikk.  If it were not for you I’d trust my emotions.  You are right, I’m not that interested in analyzing the artistic merits of racist black lady cakes.  I’m more interested in the “this is not racist” response coming from you.  Thanks for illustrating #4 and cautioning us not to trust our lying eyes because we are commoners that don’t understand true art. Palme did a good job in breaking down the intended effects of this piece.  I was more interested in the actual effects of the piece and how it would be condescendingly “explained” to people like me.

        • nanikk

          Unfortunately insisting on your approach as the only viable one hasn’t proved that effective in changing a racist world, has it? So why not try another one?

          • solchica

             You are right again.  Since I have not solved racism, my approach obviously sucks.  I’m sure you would be “effective in changing a racist world” with your ideas in one – two weeks tops.  I eagerly await your success. 

            I never said my approach was the only viable one.  I just don’t buy yours.

          • nanikk

            Just as I never said the cake wasn’t racist – so maybe jumping to conclusions isn’t that helpful after all?

            And, as you do use the attention this image generated, you seem to buy it, at least in some ways…

          • nanikk

            Just as I never said the cake wasn’t racist – so maybe jumping to conclusions isn’t that helpful after all?

            And, as you do use the attention this image generated, you seem to buy it, at least in some ways…

          • solchica

              In short, I don’t think Linde’s art did a thing to combat racism.  In fact I think it exacerbated it and caused pain in the process.  I expanded on this above.  Moving on.

          • nanikk

            If there’s no more… bye then & wishing you luck with the withdrawal strategy.

          • Kitty

            In what sense is the cake not racist if you care to explain? If at all the construct was not an image that was used to represent the brown (call them whatever you like), people in the 18th-19th centuries provocative art or not, then we would not be discussing this. 

          • Kitty

            Oh! N, I forgot, I guess the author of this article did not use a withdrawal strategy to get back at you, but rather, she just got fed up with your lack of appreciating facts and lack of respecting reason inter alia. P.s, I live in Sweden, and she has the facts right.

  • JemyM

    Except it isn’t depicting a “stereotypical African woman”, it’s depicting a blackface. It depicts a white (racist) woman painted black.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1528344409 Keyo Sedenrej

      the artist is Makode Linde, an Afro-Swede who was born male but is registered on Facebook as female.

      • JemyM

         I know who Makode Linde is. I took the time to check up his artwork and what he had to say about it. Which is what I wrote; The cake is not depicting a “stereotypical african woman” but a blackface.
        http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface

        • Kitty

          It does not matter whether he is a black, yellow, green, red, white, purple, brown or even a rainbow face. He is blunt and idiotic. He ought to have carried out a proper search on the kind of image he chose to use in his bloody artistic work. Going through his interviews, he has no clue what that image actually represented historically, yet he dares places himself as part of ” black” grouping.

          • JemyM

            He is very aware.

            His artwork is a reaction to his own upbringing in which he and his family was under attack by neo-nazis. Art became a way to work with the psychological phenomenon that racism and being the victim induce, a sort of therapy in it’s own. This was his way to take control of his life, by conquering the psychology behind the phenomenon and it’s symbols. Racism isn’t just something he read about from a distance, it is a core element in his being, one could say his obsession.

            What people from around the world need to realize is that being the target of racism in Sweden during the 60-80′ies was very different than being the target of racism in a place like the states at the same time. Just the number of “blacks” in the population were extremely few with no “black community” to speak of. The neo-nazi movement was rampant until the end of the 90′ies when it was pretty much annihilated by the rest of the culture saying enough is enough, a reaction that was strong and swift with newspapers in coalition publishing the name, identity and face of the entire network of the neonazi movement on their front papers. The whole movement imploded and those who didn’t outright quit had to go underground.

            Swedish culture is very different from places like states. Arguing he’s not a part of YOUR “black grouping” is pointless; he most clearly isn’t. You are highly unlikely to even understand his situation or his past. Many responses to this blog doesn’t even understand that Europe consists of a large amount of cultures that are so different from one another that you could as well visit another planet. Most of you have no idea about European history and I doubt any of you have any insight at all in Swedish culture or Swedish history. What could you possibly understand about a Swedish artist with African descent? You believe you know something about a person based on his skin color? Then you are the racist.

            Once your realize that your reaction is part of his artwork you
            realize that he’s brilliant, without you his art would be a failure. He smashes into hypocrisy like a wrecking ball and you’re part of the house. Now accepting that ones emotions have been manipulated and learn a lesson from it is not something most people would do though which is why this form of art works.

  • All African

    Let’s draw a parallel to this … comission an “artist” to design a cake with the imagery of a naked starving jewish child in a concentration camp. Then ask Hitler’s look alike to cut it up … and dont forget to invite a cheering audience of swastika wielding observers to laugh along… Watch the planet come to a stand still… 

  • Kel D

    You rock, this is excellent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cathy-Dalton/788492053 Cathy Dalton

    I think it’s appalling. I’m familiar with the art world, concepts of irony and so on, but one can’t intellectualise one’s way out of this. Responses to art (and to “art”) operate on may levels, including the immediate. In this case my immediate reaction, one of disgust and horror, is the one that most decent people have , regardless of their supposed “sophistication” regarding the viewing/experience of art. Other than that, I’m almost lost for words as to how to describe just how bad this is. How dare they? That is no liberal democratic society, no matter what it calls itself..

    • nanikk

      The problem with “immediate” reactions is that if you defend focusing exclusively on these, you’re automaticly defending racist emotional reactions, too (because they are also immediate and purely emotional, as there simply is no rational basis for racism).
      So, sorry, but there’s no defendable way around the obligation to think for yourself – and to not spare yourself any effort in doing so. In case you’re
      interested, there’s an opportunity over at “Africa is a country” with the post from Johan Palme. http://africasacountry.com/2012/04/18/swedish-cake/#more-4930

      • solchica

         Nanikk,  So if folks make a decision for themselves about how they choose to process and analyse something but don’t agree with you, they are not thinking for themselves.  Thanks for that.  I’ll make sure to consult you before making any individual decisions in the future.
        If we discounted our immediate reactions, we would not be having this conversations.  Our ancestors would have been eaten by predators because they ignored their immediate instinct to run. They felt no need to defend focusing exclusively on those instincts.

        People with racist ideas have jacked up instincts and that is bad for them and everyone around them.  But just because the blind man can’t see does not mean I should not trust what I see. 

        • nanikk

          Solchicha:The problem lies in “exclusive”…

          • solchica

            You see a problem,  I see a tree.  Different strokes…

          • nanikk

            Solchica: This tree-perception might just be obstructing an effective strategy here, which I supposed you could be interested in, as you described yourself as an “activist”. You have quite a platform here now, with (as of now) 64 people commenting on this page alone (as opposed to 1 for all Denise’s previous posts on this site), and about 130000 google hits for “swedish golliwog cake” – a discussion which this performance art generated.

            So again, if you don’t just want to wait for all “those” people described above to change “their” way of thinking, then it could just be worth your while considering whether exposure to pain enactment might be a viable strategy to accomplish that and if it’s worth paying the price of having to watch yet another blatantly racist image – an image which through its multiple layers of interpretation might be able to get that change in latent racist attitudes just a little closer, exactly by making them blatant.

            Your might not judge that this would be worth it – or think it generates the wrong kind of response, like being used to promote racism (which, as of now, overwhelmingly seems not to be the case), and I would be interested to hear those arguments.

            But if your aim is live in a less racist world and you believe that can be achieved by exposing latent racism, as I presumed from the tenor of your argument, this image should be difficult to dismiss. Because this performance has done quite a good job for that now, hasn’t it?

            But of course you can also opt to plant a forest, though…

          • solchica

             The tree response was meant to illustrate that we are coming from different realities.  James Baldwin talks about the concept of different realities a lot.

            I never state that my goal is to end racism.  I don’t think that ending racism is a workable goal nor do I think that it is my job per say. I wrote this piece for people of color who were injured by this callous cake.  To acknowledge that injury and prepare them for the inevitable onslaught of explanations that would just serve to minimize their pain and the historical context in which that pain occurs. 

            An artist does not have to make a mockery of the pain of others to bring attention to it. The way in which this artist, Linde did so was irresponsible.

            The attention brought to the issue in this way is not constructive.  Black people worldwide experienced suffering upon seeing yet another example of their dehumanization.  The Swedes cutting the cake can claim entrapment.  Swedes in general have taken a defensive stance against any and all accusations of racism. 

            Dialogue about race is hard enough. Dialogue with folks who are backed into a corner and hellbent on proving they are not racist is impossible. 

            The five responses I listed above were not written for the people who would see these responses as valid explanations. It was written for those of us that would have to endure them.

            The Mic Movement is a labor of love for myself and the contributors.  If this article or others was of service to folks then we have done our job but we at MM have ways to value ourselves and our work irrespective of site visits or comments.  

          • nanikk

            Of course no artist has to make a mockery of pain to draw attention to it as you keep limiting the piece’s power, but he might resort to this in order to effectively attack something a lot more sinister and difficult to effectively expose. The image is of course racist BUT ALSO quite useful
            for fighting racism, especially for the latent version you listed here. So its mere existence forces everybody, including
            you, to set his/her/my/your… priorities. Do you opt for using this effective
            tool against structural racism, which is so hard to fight, or do you instead
            opt for the priority of protecting your (and others you identify with) self-image from further injury? That’s
            the dilemma nobody’s asked you to enjoy – only to face. Isn’t that part of the
            pain this image causes?

            As this site claimed to be about black art, I came here looking for your thoughts
            on this matter. Now, I will get over the anticlimax of your advocating the EXCLUSIVE
            focus on emotions but can you really afford to miss the opportunity to appropriate something this
            effective? And choose resignation instead, as you do once again in your statement of not even aspiring to end racism – which, b.t.w, I didn’t use but you keep putting so lovingly into my mouth? I definitely hope you have ways to value yourself but is that really your exclusive issue? This piece is as much about you as about anyone
            else, because it’s about STRUCTURE. Take it or
            leave it?

  • Coco81

    Yeah you got em Denise, as a Afro swede. Swedes are the most terrible people on this planet. You should just kill their babies in their sleep to get rid of the next generation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1528344409 Keyo Sedenrej

    Here’s an archive of info on afrophobia in Sweden:
    http://afrophobiaxposed.nu/
    Thanks for a BRILLIANT article!

  • Joanna Astrom

    I’m sorry to find this type of stupid material about Swedes as I am to find about any other nationality. Be aware of what you write, you obviously don’t live here in Sweden, nor do you seem to know any Swedes for that matter. I mean who can write something like this and find it sort of amusing? That is what you’re portraying in you’re so called article or what you want to call it. It’s because of people like you that human kind will go on fighting each other instead of trying to find consensus. I mean, what do you exactly know about this cakegate? Please tell me more if you do. I can’t stop being amazed by how many journalists/bloggers/twitterusers/ and all the people using social media, jump into a discussion without even reading facts and actually thinking about it before releasing their comments. We have a bigger influence now and we should respect it. I bet you probably were one of the many people who spread “Kony 2012″ all around. So as you can see, I’m a Swede and I’m not saying we’re perfect, but we have for sure accomplished a lot and will go on doing that. 

  • Joanna Astrom

    I’m sorry to find this type of stupid material about Swedes as I am to find about any other nationality. Be aware of what you write, you obviously don’t live here in Sweden, nor do you seem to know any Swedes for that matter. I mean who can write something like this and find it sort of amusing? That is what you’re portraying in you’re so called article or what you want to call it. It’s because of people like you that human kind will go on fighting each other instead of trying to find consensus. I mean, what do you exactly know about this cakegate? Please tell me more if you do. I can’t stop being amazed by how many journalists/bloggers/twitterusers/ and all the people using social media, jump into a discussion without even reading facts and actually thinking about it before releasing their comments. We have a bigger influence now and we should respect it. I bet you probably were one of the many people who spread “Kony 2012″ all around. So as you can see, I’m a Swede and I’m not saying we’re perfect, but we have for sure accomplished a lot and will go on doing that. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1528344409 Keyo Sedenrej

      Wow, Joanna! You just managed to corroborate really poignantly points 2 and 5 in Denise’s article!
      And by the way, I’m Swedish too, and very white. Check out http://afrophobiaxposed.nu/ and smell the coffee.
      The fact that Denise is right on spot in this article although she might not live in Sweden is not strange at all – in relation to black people, (the majority of) white people everywhere are just about the same – it’s about whiteness. Tim Wise (who is also very white) can tell you more: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3812249801848706206#

      • Coco81

        That Afrophobia site is a joke, seriously.

        Tim Wise lol

        • solchica

           Sometimes laughter is the best response.  It is a lot easier than reflection. lol

      • obert

        So let’s get this straight. You take disagreement with your points of view as proof that your points of view are correct? With this genius logic you can believe anything you like.

        • Kitty

          Get a grip O! And your comparing what Europeans did to other Europeans to what Europeans did to Africans is just illogical. I assume you consider yourself as an academic, but hell, it is time you revised your facts. Yet you had the guts to quote some African proverb..how ironical! 

          • obert

            okay einstein, perhaps you can elaborate on why it is illogical. Your whole point rests on Africans having suffered uniquely and disproportionately to everyone else. How would you establish your point without providing historical comparison?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

      Speaking of getting all the facts to make an informed opinion, read http://www.micmovement.com/2012/03/dont-change-the-player-change-the-game/ to see how we feel about the Kony2012 video.

    • solchica

       Joanna – thanks for your comment.  I really dig the way (some) comments have provoked examine my own thinking, So here is my too-long response to you.

      Incidentally, right before I read your comment, I re-read the article and I got to “The Swedish will…” I was surprised at myself a bit. I tend not to speak in generalizations that lump a variety of people under one label.  I considered replacing it with “the participants”  but I chose not to.  Here is why.

      When we accept the construct of the nation-state, we accept that there is a representational national narrative.  History books illustrate this best.  They say things like “France entered the war…” or “Australia participated in…” They even take this one step further and say “Americans are in mourning” and so on.  Even though some Americans may be mourning, I’m sure not all were but that is the representational narrative. 

      News agencies and historians use this when it is assumed or evidenced that a significant number of the population feels the same or if something is done by someone or people that are in a position to represent the nation. “The Americans are dominating the Olympic Games”

      In this case, we have this cake that is enjoyed by The Minister of Culture of your democratic government and influential Swedish higher-ups.  Suffice to say, that in this moment, these people represent Sweden.  Some of them were even being paid by your tax dollars as they ate that cake.

      This is the flip side of national pride – national shame.  Sweden (as other countries) get to celebrate the successes of their countrymen as their own, especially when they happen in a context where that person was representing Sweden.  Your great writers, bakers and candlestick-makers are applauded for contributing reflecting well on their country through their accomplishments.  Yet if these people speak well of Sweden when they do well, they speak ill of Sweden when they do racist stuff.

      Europeans have long been exempt from the fair application of the national-pride/shame logic.  White supremacy is grounded in the idea that whites are inherently good and better.  So while good acts have been attributed the whole nation, bad acts are seend as unique, individual failures.  Germans are quick to claim Goethe and quicker to disown Hitler.  There is an emphasis here on the fact that Hitler was Austrian-born.  As if this bit of Austria was what somehow corrupted him. Therefore European nations have long been defined by their successes and distanced from their failures. 

      I come from the opposite experience. The reason why I loathe to make generalizations about people is that I understand the frustration that comes with national shame – being blamed for stuff you have no control over.  I know this intimately because as a black person, I deal with it daily. Africans and people of African descent are defined by the worst and most incriminating acts.  The successes among us are seen as unique and different and not representative of blacks as a whole.  Every black successful person I know has been told some variation of “you are nor REALLY black” by their white colleagues.

      Truth be told.  I don’t think that national-pride/shame – the celebration of denouncement of a people based on their shared identity, is something that makes any logical sense.  It is grounded in generalization.  It supports nationalism, which I consider short-sighted at best and dangerous at worst. Yet it is the way the national narrative is written.  To have a story, you must have a protagonist and in the historical/news context, the protagonist is often a country. The multiplicity of identities & opinions often get lost in the telling of that story. 

      In my sentence “The Swedes will…” I chose to let your representatives represent you.  I chose to not allow Sweden to distance itself from Swedes when their actions do not speak well of them.  So in this context.  I’m leaving “The Swedes” in the article. 

      I’m sure the human race will  survive me.  I don’t see a consensus in the human race on anything in the foreseeable future. 

      Some people see Sweden as the land of great literature, film & cuisine and others see it as land where people do really racist stuff and then defend it at all costs.  I reckon it is all of these things and none of the above depending on the tour guide.

      • Joanna Astrom

        Good answer and in a way I think it is good that this racist-cake-thing-whatever-we-wanna-call-it happened. You know why? Because it makes those “white” people in Sweden question themselves. I’m not going to say wheather I’m black, white, yellow or any other color for that matter but I say one thing, I never look at people by their so called color, I look at people by their personality and grace. Again thank you for your answer and I hope you’re not scared to go to Sweden now. Lovely place and a lot of lovely people, as there are around the world too of course. 

  • obert

    What I find hilarious is that this article clearly aims at countering European ideas of race and racism, but does so in a an entirely European way. The whole way that race is constructed, and the moral assumptions inherent to it are so 18th century. ha ha ha ha!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

      Well when Europeans themselves stop thinking in the 18th century, I will too. It sounds like you’re putting the impetus on people of color. “I’m hurt because I choose to be hurt” to quote another commentator. These 18th century constructs as you say are in place because the majority of people here, let’s call them Europeans, have constructed their world in this way, through institutions, traditions, and THE LAW. It’s not enough for me, a minority that is seldom seen to change the society. It’s mostly whites in the society who vote, mostly whites in legislatures who write the laws, mostly whites in the executive who sign the laws and mostly whites in the police who enforce the laws, The impetus is on YOU and the majority to change your thinking first. I’ll start being post-racial when we’re actually in a post-racial society.  

      • obert

        What makes you think you’ve been so uniquely offended? Nobody is coming into your home and killing you or raping you. When people start having to scrape the barrell over “black” cakes, then you know you’re being silly.

        You are living in a time and place of unparalleled opportunity and personal liberty. However badly you feel whites have treated you, it surely pales into signficance into how whites have treated each other. You clearly don’t read much history.

        I will finish with a well known proverb from my local area: mbada isati yadya vana vayo, inotanga yavatuka ichivati vanonhuwa kunge mbudzi (Before a leopard devours her own young, she first accuses them of smelling like goats.) Being familiar with “Africaness” I’m sure you didn’t need the translation.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

          See the funny thing about history is that when it’s written by the victors, they tend to make everyone elses accomplishments as well as suffering minimal. I’m fully aware of the mistreatment Europeans have done to each other. The beauty of being educated in the West is  getting the eurocentric education which means the Irish potato famine and the Holocaust get top priority, while anything pertaining to “that country Africa” gets maybe a days read if you’re lucky. How many millions died during the Middle Passage? some say 2 million. Others say 12 million. See there’s a debate about that, while there isn’t one about the 6 million Europeans in the Holocaust. Sadly the indigenous people of the Americas get NO mention.
          Does it take being killed or raped to spot a slight such as this. Well I guess I can’t speak out about most things. Sorry ladies, getting your genitals cut?  According to Obert here, you’re on your own. I may have access to much of that prosperity and personal liberty you’re speaking of, but many people of color don’t in comparison with their white counterparts. Heard of the prison industrial complex, high rates of black unemployment and poverty?  And have you thought about how that personal liberty and prosperity is built on exploitation of other countries, particularly in Africa. Guess I can’t mention that either since I have a laptop. And as for being killed, as we’ve seen with Trayvon Martin, they’re not coming into our homes. They’ll just chase us down in the street and kill us there. It happens in the US as well as in Germany, and elsewhere. I don’t remember making any claims to Africanness. Must be some other leopard cub that smells like a goat that you’re trying to devour :o)-

          • obert

            The slave trade is pretty miled compared to the horrors committed in Europe by Europeans to each other. Slavery, far from being something under acknowledged in the West, is taught at schools and Universities as though it was a uniquely Western practice. Zero mention is given in modern syllabuses about the slave trade between Africans, or of the far more devastating and cruel Arab practices or, indeed, of the abundant slave trade that happened from Southern Europe to Morrocco.

            To create a compelling case that Africans have been uniquely wronged, you would have to show how African suffering has been disproportionate by historical standards. Such a case is difficult to create given the extreme barbarism of Europe. In fact, Africans have been lucky enough to have been spared being treated in this last century as Europeans treated each other.
            With regards to colonisation in Africa; my goodness how fortunate Africa has been compared to other continents. Most colonisers massacre the inhabitants on arrival (such was the case with the Mongols, the Vikings, Shaka Zulu, and Spaniards). Much of Africa, far from being depopulated by colonialism, has been overpopulated by it. Southern Africa is a case in point; it was chronically underpopulated at the start of the 19th century and until colonial agriculture and medicine brought unprecedented reductions in child mortality and longevity. When my grandparents were born the population in my country was about 500 000. When my parents were born it was 2 million, today it is about 14 million.

            Fellows like you only seem to note atrocities when they’re committed by
            white people, and you’re otherwise totally silent about the black people
            you claim to care so much about. I rarely if ever here black Europeans
            complaining about the 2 million rapes happening every year in the Congo
            (unless of course they can some how blame it on the UN). Such selective
            treatment reveals the true motivation: the identity politics of furthering
            selfish social and economic interests in a permissive environment. When
            there is no guilt to stoke, there is usually a strange silence.

            The Arab world took more slaves than the entire western hemisphere put
            together, and had a policy of castrating them to increase their resale
            value and prevent contamination of the local gene pool. Mauritania only
            band slavery in 2006, most of the Arab world only banned it in the 1960s.
            My friend who lives in Qatar says that the word for “black” and “slave” are
            still one and the same. Funny how the activists are all busy complaining
            about “black” cakes in Sweden, but are pretty silent about genuine
            oppression in medieval thinking countries.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

            No one is saying the Europeans weren’t barbaric, only that some of their barbarism towards others has been downplayed or to coin a term “white-washed”. You see a blessing in how the colonizers spared the Africans. Well when your labor force is based on a group of people, slaughtering them wouldn’t be a good idea would it? The Spaniards learn this lesson after they decimated the native population as you mentioned.
            I beg to differ with you on the slavery question. The slave trade between Africans was taught in my schools but only as a fig leaf to excuse the European role. Europeans were only the middle men. The problem is that they took people who were in many cases indentured servants, meaning they had some rights, and turned them into slaves, meaning they had NO rights.
             I suggest you read more of my articles on this site if you care to know how I feel about Western “concern” for Africa.

          • obert

            Your post contradicts itself. Are you essentially arguing that hard labour is worse than death? Are you arguing that Europeans, all 20 million of whom were slaughtered during the first world war, were some how better off than the Africans who were made to work in fields, and earn salaries? Living wages in most colonised countries increased year on year during colonisation, at least in the countries that I am aware of.

            Lastly, I am not interested in how you “feel” about things, what I care about is forming an idea of historical events with evidence and reason. Your views come across as highly Eurocentric, as though they should carry extra weight because they are “felt” by someone of high worth. Rather than listen to Africans about their stories, I so often find that Europeans (regardless of colour) seem to want to lecture the rest of us on how we should and should not see our own continent.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

            Now you’re dealing in semantics if you care to focus on the meaning behind the word “feel”. I’m merely suggesting that before you put me into the Black European corner, for which I am not but American, and want to know what I think without assuming YOU know what i think, read my other words. I raise many of the same issues. Funny how you are so aware of European’s humanity towards European but you yourself fall silent when it comes to theirs against others. I’m not arguing hard labor is worse than death, because slavery wasn’t just hard labor. Death was ONE of the things that could happen and did happen in then Middle Passage from the tune of 2 million in some estimates to the maybe upwards 12 million. Remember all those bodies at the bottom of the ocean are harder to find than on a battlefield or in a gas chamber. So its not so easy to quantify. We’re talking about these people’s systematic degradation and alienation over the course centuries in a society that occurred even after slavery in the US “ended”.
            If your beef is being told how you and other Africans should view the
            continent, the “cake” raises that issue of how whites condescendingly
            look upon blackness, including Afro-Swedes, -Germans, -Americans as well as Africans. My beef is how certain Africans
            condescendingly lecture their descendants on how lucky they should be and not
            complain because at least we’re not in Uganda or Ireland circa 1840.

          • obert

            I have read a couple of your other articles, and all of them seemingly sing from the same song sheet. We’re also touching on many different issues here. My point is that Black people have not suffered disproportionately, historically speaking. Even assuming your 12 million of dead slaves is accurate, that is still comparatively meagre compared to the 20 million Stalin killed in a fraction of the time (And that’s before we take into account the death toll from the two World Wars.) The idea that black people have received the worst and most systematic bout of oppression just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Also, your take on slavery implies that black people played no role in it. There is a lot of evidence that many Africans benefited from the trade and, for the most part, were all too happy to raid their neighbours for young able men to flog to Arab and European traders.
            None of that is to say that there is no such thing as racism in the current day, or that you are wrong to be highlighting racism where it exists. To me it is just ridiculous to go and pick on a country like Sweden that offers amazing rights to immigrants and foreigners. It is much easier, I suppose, to fight for rights in places where you are already given them, than to genuinely face the consequences in places where you don’t.

            My points, I suppose, are these:

            1. Valid arguments about race fall on deaf ears when presented without proportion or context.

            2. Your ideas of what race and racism are rest on uniquely European
            assumptions. The assumption, for example, that disparities in income and
            prison rates between ethnic groups is proof of systemic racism is one such
            assumption. African immigrants to America are well known to climb the
            social and economic ladder within two to three generations, they are also
            far less likely to be arrested and imprisoned. If racism were the chief
            factor determining black outcomes, there would be no disparities between
            different “black” groups. What the data suggest, is that other factors are
            more significant than race. Solving the problem of economic advancement for
            certain groups may well need to be two pronged; tackling racism and, ALSO,
            changing other factors (such as attitudes and beliefs that may make people
            less competitive economically). By casting the problem solely in terms of a
            racial conspiracy, you discourage people from crucial self improvement.

            3. The belief that Europe and America are rich because Africa is poor, is
            also a lazy assumption regurgitated repeatedly without dilution since the
            1960s. Colonialism only happened in central and Southern Africa during the
            last two hundred years. Human beings have been anatomically modern for
            about 200 000 years. If colonialism accounts for the last 200 years of weak
            development in that region, then what accounts for the previous 199 800?
            The question of why some places develop and others don’t is complex, and
            cannot simply be explained by making a giant logical leap from correlation
            to causation.

          • solchica

             Obert – There is no metric to measure the historical and ongoing suffering of African descended people that would satisfy you.  It is clear to me that you don’t see us as worthy nor our pain as valid.  If African victims got the same regard as European victims, the world would be different.  As it is,there an effort to minimize our oppression (as you illustrate so well.) Moving on.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chester-Veazie/1089975009 Chester Veazie

            I like how in your second point, you put racism BEFORE changing beliefs that people have that would hinder them economically. this goes to my earlier point of how the system needs to be changed by the white majorities in western societies first. While it may not be so apparent in my articles that blacks deserve some responsibility for their outcomes, you can’t deny that barriers in place within systems has a great effect on those outcomes. White supremacy is more than just overt racism like the KKK. It’s cultural conditioning that takes place from birth. The view that white is inherently good and black is inherently bad comes across in images and even the languages we speak. In reference to development,Do I think African civilizations would have been perfect without European interference? NO. Would they have developed in a more beneficial and independent way? Yes and I’m sure there are Africans that would counter your facts with ones that would agree with my point. You can mention colonialism bringing roads, schools and hospitals, but I’ve heard the same things mentioned about India and Haiti and the consensus I’ve gotten is colonialism= BAD idea. Fact is today we have a global economic system that favors western countries through unfair trade policies and exploitative practices. Also fact that anytime a people, whether African or otherwise have tried to assert themselves democratically, the West interfered much to the detriment of that society. then there is the joke that is western “aid” Now rather than lecture you on how to see your continent, I would rather lecture Europeans on how they should see your continent and me, restrain themselves, and let you get about the business of developing.
            I suspect that you are just as ignorant of our stories as people of African descent as you feel we are of African stories. Yes  african and carribean immigrant have a higher success rate in the US than home-grown blacks, but that doesn’t mean white society doesn’t judge all blacks inferior but then picks favorites among inferiors. Ask the creoles of Louisiana, or the zulus of South Africa. You think maybe the reason why those black immigrant groups benefit in America is because of the fighting that african-americans did previously?
            You also seem to hold it against us for speaking up in democratic societies as though we’re spoiled brats or something. The crime rather is not using your voice. Its sad that some countries don’t afford their people that freedom and my country didn’t do that with blacks until 60 years ago. I just think that with all these pieces of paper declaring human rights and equality of all people, they should actually mean ALL people.

          • obert

            “You think maybe the reason why those black immigrant groups benefit in America is because of the fighting that african-americans did previously?”

            This statement is illogical. If African Americans fought for the rights of blacks, and the rights of blacks was the chief impeding actor to development, then you would not expect to see disparities in outcome between different black groups. Why, after all, would we expect those who fought for their rights to have worse outcomes than those who didn’t? The debate on this subject reminds me of Stalin’s attitude to the failing railway construction programs he set about. Rather than accept that his policies were failing, and that socialism (as he had conceived it) was inherently unworkable, he instead instructed his agents to arrest what he presumed must be sabateurs. ie. his idea was assumed to be perfect, and when the idea failed, everything but the idea itself was presumed to have gone wrong. I can’t help but see parallels with this historical happening and the debate on structural racism, which is assumed by default to account for all statistical disparities (at least when they are convenient to the prevailing political consensus). I personally suspect that, up until the end of the 70s, racism could easily account for disparities in outcome, but flogging that idea in 2012, despite the fact that there is a black president (by the US definition of black), affirmatve action policies for black people and paradoxically worsening
            indicators for black ghetto dwellers.

            In the second point you seem to once more conflate correlation with
            causality: whites run the Western World therefore that correlation is
            proof in and of itself of a white conspiracy or “white supremacy”. How
            else could history have turned out? Western nations developed superior
            military technology, financial and legal systems, and used those to
            conquer other peoples. That is cultural supremacy; ie beliefs and
            values that outcompete other ones.

            “Fact is today we have a global economic system that favors western
            countries through unfair trade policies and exploitative practices”

            This thinking is based on the assumption of zero sum economics, the
            belief that one man’s wealth can only be gained at the expense of
            another’s. This logic is demonstrably false, although it is common
            because it ties into our (possibly) evolutionary psychology of wealth,
            which arose when resources like wildlife were, indeed, finite. In this
            day of value added processing, this is no longer the case. If it were,
            we would not observe global economic growth, we would see booms in one
            country balanced by busts in another. America runs a trillion dollar
            deficit. In doing so it effectively subsidizes other economies.
            Whatever unfair trade practices it may use to dump certain
            agricultural products, it nevertheless subsidizes most global
            economies, either directly or indirectly.

            China, for example, owes its growth out of poverty to Americans
            spending debt on chinese goods. Much of Africa, likewise, owes its
            economic growth to mineral prices, driven by China and America.
            Without the exploitative West, most third world countries would be
            much poorer than they are now. Agriculture is also an interesting case
            in point in most African countries. People complain about unfair trade
            practices but such practices rarely affect African farmers.

            In my area of Southern Africa, for example, rural farmers cannot even
            get their products to market WITHIN the country, let alone compete on
            rigged foreign markets. Why is this the case? FOr the most part, rural
            farmers don’t own their land, and cannot get loans from banks. They
            have no access to inputs, and therefore have minimal outputs. They are
            called subsistence farmers because that is what they do: subsist. They
            live in grinding poverty and, guess what, that is how the governments
            want them to live. Most of these land ownership patters are vestiges
            of colonialism which post-independent African governments have
            deliberately kept to maintain control. I find it surprising that so
            many people are quick to criticise the West for unfair trade
            practices, but silent when it comes to addressing the chief cause of
            why so many poverty stricken peasants are unable to produce at all.

            I don’t hold it against you that you wish to combat racism or that you
            use your democratic voice. My only point is that some of your
            arguments for what you claim is proof of racism don’t stand up to
            scrutiny.

  • Richard Silver

    interesting and not greatly different to what I have seen – Sweden is a unique country in terms of the evolving views around cultural integration…. having lived in London most of my life (one of the more successfully integrated areas of Europe) its quite amazing to witness the complete inability of most Swedes, that  I have talked with, to see and understand what one would consider ‘institutionalised’ racism in London, for example. A more subtle but just as damaging, and some would argue more dangerous form of racism.  
    It is a society that is extremely young on the cultural integration map and also a society that does not possess the complexities of its counterparts created from comparatively massive populations. 

    Socio-economic problems including racism need to be tackled on a European, national and regional  level and all effected parties should have one share in the decision making process that shapes the strategy to tackle the matter.

  • par

    The problem i have with this article is that you are a racist yourself as you are referring to “the Swedish”, like we are one group and have one beliefsystem. Its the same problem as when racists talk about black people as a group. So dont fall into the same dark chamber.. 

    • solchica

       See my response to Joanna about this below.

  • TX2Hi

    Cake is a black mans creation. Yes. That sambo looking cake was done by a black man. Go to his facebook and let him know. For some reason his name isn’t mentioned anywhere on the article!
    Makode Linde

    • solchica

       You obviously did not read the article.  Try again.

  • The Antiracist Swede

    Do you even know the backstory about this cake?

    This cake is shock art with the sole intent to raise awareness about racist stereotyping and female gender mutilation.

    Do you suggest that our minister should NOT have cut it, effectively deeming it “too extreme” to be art? If so, who are you to say what should or shouldn’t pass as art? Especially when the artwork has GOOD INTENT.

    There is no racism involved here. Just a black person creating art to express injustice against blacks, and a minister choosing not to support nor condemn it like she does any other piece.

    The only reason why this event made it big in swedish media is because swedes don’t understand art. They love to shrug it off as “weird”, and if you couple this specific piece of art with the fact that europe is generally very sensitive to racism, you have a situation which is bound to go nation-wide in the news.

    From there on it will spread to other countries – already having been deemed awful and racist by the (swedish) media – until it reaches ignorant plebes such as yourself, Denise, who will happily pass judgement about a country or event that you don’t know a thing about.

    In other words, there is nothing racist about this cake. Our minister netiher supported nor condemned this piece of art, and it had a good intent behind it. Kindly go F yourself.

    • Stormy Summer

      you are obviously personally offended by someone critizing your lovely prime minister. hahaha! it is actually kind of funny. i m sorry for you.

      but it is not funny your lack of respect towards the author of this article

      hey “Antiracist Swede”, unfortunately the very best “good intention” is not always enough to make things better. there are bombs to make piece in this world. all good intention.

      racism is so deeply inside
      socialization, education, economy. it devides classes and nations and
      south and north. even if not wanted, people act racist, think racist, behave racist. but it is such a ugly word most people deny, first of all ::read::article::carefully::

      you know, while a lot of people, esp people of colour, are upset and disturbed by
      seeing this footage, and perceive it as racist —

      how dare you say “there is no racism
      involved” ???!!!
      i could just laugh if it wasnt so sad.

      • The Antiracist Swede

        I’m offended by someone criticizing my people in such a generalizing manner. I have no respect for any author who takes a news story at face value and doesn’t care to dig deeper into the situation at hand before dishing out criticisms. The author is obviously an idiot.

        Aside from that, I don’t even know what point you’re trying to make. Your reply contains no substance at all. All you’re saying is:

        1) The best intention is not always enough to make things better.
        2) Racism is deeply integrated in society.
        3) How dare you say it’s not racism? A lot of people of color are saying the opposite.

        (Paraphrased of course)

        How dare I say it’s not racism? Well, I just gave you an explanation.
        Racism is deeply integrated in society? Ok, but that doesn’t mean that THIS specific instance has anything to do with racism.
        The best intention doens’t make things better? The cake was made by a person of color who tried to raise awareness through art. Who are you to say his intentions are not working?

        • solchica

           I’ll answer your paraphrasing. 

          #1 I agree with.  All kinds of racists had really good intentions as they stole the babies of indigenous people and “saved” Africans from their pagan homeland.  Good intentions pave the road to hell.  Good intentions are a great start, but they don’t excuse bad actions and results.

          #2. Yes.  Glad you got that.  I’m sure you agree being anti-racist and all.

          #3 is a misrepresentation.  I don’t clutch the pearls when people deny racism because I’m so used to it.  So used to it in fact that I was able to detail 5 ways they would do so in this incident.  The basic white stance is often “It is not racist unless we say it is” 

          Q: Who are you to say his intentions are not working? 
          A: Every article I have seen about the wake of this instance talks about almost everything EXCEPT genital cutting, its history and things people can do to help stop it.  The artist himself offers no context nor tools to stop  the practice of genital cutting.  Activist works of art (which his stated intention implies that this was) must have a clear call to action after it has people’s attention.  His racist cake won’t prevent one girl from enduring the horror of genital cutting but it did dehumanize the women who have survived it. 

          As for the Who am I? part of your question.  I am me.   If you were interested in my story, you must be willing to listen. 
           

          • Bolgarth_99

             why are you answering his questions as if he was talking to you? his questions arent directed at you. his questions are directed at user “Stormy Summer”

  • Stormy Summer

    thank you for writing this article!!

    i m not sure what is the most disturbing:
    the art-piece itself ;
    the reactions of the white laughing audience;
    various media responses
    (to post it all over, use the “shocking effect” to bring up their click-rate or whatever…means people are confronted by the image right away without being able to choose if they want to see it or not. normal)
    or is it that it brings up the deep racism in every one who participated, watched, laughed….
    and those watching the footage…, the deep fear inside us, the rage, anger …
    this imagery if deeply offensive and made me feel sick for days anytime i thought about it or it was posted yet again on facebook or whatever…. 

    many other friends felt sick from wathcing it too, and i really dont fucking get how people can watch and laugh or think there is no racism involved here ))::

  • http://www.facebook.com/brad.rodriguez2 Brad Rodriguez

    Okay, Antiracist Swede:  An Animation Director weighing in here. Awareness schmearness. That shit is wrong and don’t defend it. It’s not art, trust a professional on this. Guess what? Anywhere in the world if you’re white & you defend something like this–you’re viewed as latently racist, too. Just letting you know in case no one informed you of  that truth (where are all the people of color in that video’s crowd of onlookers if this event was really “aware”) And it’s not just in Europe. Look at South America’s take on black people in cartoon form. WTF! Are we really in the 21st century? 

    • The Antiracist Swede

      First off, don’t jump into a discussion by announcing your job title. Nobody cares that
      you oversee cartoon production. It doesn’t give you any leverage in this
      conversation – nor would most other professions – and it only makes you look like a total douchebag.

      As for your points:

      Where are all the people of color in that video’s crowd? Well uh, you get to see what, 5-7 people in the video? The likelihood of a black person appearing in shot at that specific moment is quite low. It might’ve been higher if the art even was aimed at a black audience, but in this case it was aimed at the general public, which is predominantly white in Sweden. I don’t understand why this is a problem. Are you saying that there is a universal formula that determines when something should be considered racist based on how many black observers there are? If so, you might want to let the world know what this formula of yours is.

      As for your other point, “That shit is wrong and don’t defend it”, well uh, what am I even supposed to say to that? I already explained that this was a piece of art by a black person who wanted to raise awareness about injustices against blacks. You respond with WELL THAT’S WRONG IF YOU’RE WHITE AND DEFEND SHIT LIKE THIS! Okay, thanks for your comment. Maybe next time, try to have some substance behind your responses?

      If you still don’t get what I mean, let me spell it out for you: try to actually explain WHAT is wrong about this scenario rather than just establishing the fact that you work in cartoons and find this wrong, because that’s all your comment told us.

      • solchica

        You should follow your own advice.  Don’t put Anti-racist in your title while you say clearly racist stuff.  

        • The Antiracist Swede

          Naming myself “The Antiracist Swede” is nothing like typing out one’s job as part of their argument. If you don’t see the difference between choosing a nickname and writing a post then… I suggest you spend some more time on the internet before attempting to use it as a platform to discuss topics.

        • The Antiracist Swede

           You should stop deleting my responses in order to make yourself seem successful at debating, which you really aren’t.

  • solchica

    Hey folks,  I know that emotions run high when race is discussed but if you want to hide behind your computer screen while typing racist and personal attacks here, you will be banned.  If you have an issue with the content, focus on the content. If you are salty about that then move on.  Thanks to all of those (that I’ve agreed and disagreed with) for respectfully sharing your ideas about the article.

    • The Antiracist Swede

      You are such a coward for deleting my comments and claiming they were racist. There was NOTHING racist about my comments.

      The fact that you’ll write off all your “opponents” as racist just for having an opinion that differs from yours makes YOU the cowardly one.

      Good job at having no debate honor whatsoever.

  • Jessica Sandquist

    Thank you for an awesome article!
    I am a Swedish citizen, and has been living abroad on and off for 4 years. What I’ve come to realize since my move is how racist Sweden (and big parts of Europe) really are. This is something that is hard to understand when living in the country, and moving around has helped me a lot with this.
    Anyway, I found an article by the cake-maker, and if you’re interested in reading it, here’s a link you can translate: http://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/article14700358.ab 
    I noticed google translate is not translating it properly, so here’s the (for your article) important part of what he wrote:
    “Nor would I have imagined the kind of reaction my cake performance would bring. Since I came home from the cake party on Sunday night, all kind of individuals, from the Al-Jazeera and the New York Times to Eva-Lena, Nynashamn, has responded. Sad, angry, menacing, but mostly overjoyed reactions flowing in at a pace that is difficult to keep up with. [...]
    I’m not a racist, our Ministre of Culture isn’t and the culture ladies applauding in the picture isn’t. But the world we live in is. It is only when the hidden racism made ​​visible that it can be broken. This is what my art is trying to highlight. Based on this premise, I’m not afraid to say I succeeded pretty well with my cake”.

  • Jessica Sandquist

    Thank you for an awesome article!
    I am a Swedish citizen, and has been living abroad on and off for 4 years. What I’ve come to realize since my move is how racist Sweden (and big parts of Europe) really are. This is something that is hard to understand when living in the country, and moving around has helped me a lot with this.
    Anyway, I found an article by the cake-maker, and if you’re interested in reading it, here’s a link you can translate: http://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/article14700358.ab 
    I noticed google translate is not translating it properly, so here’s the (for your article) important part of what he wrote:
    “Nor would I have imagined the kind of reaction my cake performance would bring. Since I came home from the cake party on Sunday night, all kind of individuals, from the Al-Jazeera and the New York Times to Eva-Lena, Nynashamn, has responded. Sad, angry, menacing, but mostly overjoyed reactions flowing in at a pace that is difficult to keep up with. [...]
    I’m not a racist, our Ministre of Culture isn’t and the culture ladies applauding in the picture isn’t. But the world we live in is. It is only when the hidden racism made ​​visible that it can be broken. This is what my art is trying to highlight. Based on this premise, I’m not afraid to say I succeeded pretty well with my cake”.

  • Sandra

    a despicable bunch of ignorants.
    i feel so disgusted for living in the same world as those sh.. people. they are all f… hysterical and tremendously scary. i will never put my Iberian ass in this country of ignorant white crap.

  • Sandra

    Chasser le naturel, il revient au galop !

  • Someguy

    despicable ignorants disgusted ignorant “WHITE” crap.. I rest my case..

  • Mikael Wranell

    Booom! Amazing little checklist. My only grief is that I didn’t find it until now. Thank you very very much