rime_r (rime_r) wrote in debunkingwhite,

Racist cake

Apparently this has gone viral so I imagine you'll be hearing about this elsewhere, if you haven't already. This is so awful that I feel like apologizing for even bringing it to your attention. Like, those could have been a few more hours or days without knowing about the racist cake thing, you know? :(

Basically--correct me if I have details wrong--the Swedish Minister of Culture, supposedly well-known for her anti-racist activism, participated in a performance piece on World Art Day at a modern art museum in Stockholm.

Cut for disturbing, even in summary format

The piece was designed by an Afro-Swedish performance artist, Makode Aj Linde. He put on blackface and put his head through a table, on top of which a life-size cake lay, a cake portraying the body of a cartoonish blackface African woman. The Afro-Swedish Association has spoken out about it strongly and is calling for the minister's resignation. WARNING, VERY DISTURBING PICTURE.

Okay. I was going to try to lay out all the details and then get into my rant, but this is so disturbing to me. My anger and WTF energy is leaving me and now I just feel sick and sad. Basically, the white woman cuts up the cake shaped like the black woman. Starting at the genitals. While the blackface-head screams. There's lots of photos and video, showing the white audience members smiling and snapping pictures. Ostensibly it was supposed to be a statement against female genital mutilation, and to challenge our racist preconceptions and etc. etc.

I'm not really seeing any post-colonial enlightenment coming about, here. The news coverage is maddening. There is so much smug apologist commentary. The "mainstream" coverage also doesn't seem to acknowledge how this is also incredibly misogynist--it's not just racist. A few of the greatest hits:

--It's not racist cuz the artist is black.
--It's not racist because blackface isn't a THING in Sweden like it is in the United States.
--It's art, so if you are offended you are "missing the point." (One particularly sanctimonious blogpost here. The author calls the Afro-Swedish Association "naive," like they are too stupid to appreciate that this is ART, MAN, and therefore totally progressive. (WTF, like artwork can't be racist?) She says critics need to "stick to the point."

Uhhh, I don't think they're the ones missing the point. You can call something "postcolonialist" all you want... but how is this actually "deconstructing" racism or misogyny or colonialism? The white people at the art show. Laughing, smiling, clinking glasses and clicking cameras. While a black woman is symbolically--not even SYMBOLICALLY, almost--dismembered and eaten as a spectacle for them. The people of color speak up, express their horror, and critics shoot them down and tell them it's not actually racist, they just don't "get it." That was ALREADY the status quo.

It's a really good example of how "anti-racists" can do spectacularly racist things. And, after people of color respond, STILL not see it as racist. The fact that real people of color are hurt by this is not what matters to them, for all the talk about deconstructing stuff and progressiveness and postcolonialism. Postcolonialism: you're doing it wrong.

Anyway, this story broke pretty recently, I guess, and I've been trying to find articles or posts that look at this from the perspective of people of color (women especially). I imagine that will be forthcoming. All I've seen so far is some quotes from the Afro-Swedish Association, the artist's facebook page, and a few comments by women of color. I've also been trying to find a place to discuss this and share feelings about it where I don't have to like, argue that it's racist in the first place.

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