As the disturbing images of a white woman – Swedish Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth – cutting into a cake in the shape of a grossly caricatured, African woman sped around the internets yesterday, cries of racism rang out.  The National Association of Afro-Swedes, along with activists all over the world, demanded for Adelsohn-Liljeroth’s resignation. Generalized outrage ensued.

Meanwhile the Okayafrica offices were filled with  heated conversations about media depictions of race, artistic intentionality, diplomatic responsibility, and Tupac’s hologram. Luckily, Africa Is A Country came through to break it all down for us. And we agree that the piece of performance art (see disturbing video above) could quite possibly be “a brilliant staging of structural racism and post-colonial existence.” (For their full, insightful analysis, check here.)

By this morning Al Jazeera posted extensive interviews with Makode Linde, the artist of the cake. It’s a wonder no one thought to interview him – and contextualize the piece – before the firestorm began. So much for not making assumptions based on appearance.




2 Replies to "In Defense Of The Racist Cake and The Swedish Minister"
Samedi S. says:
April 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Watched the video after seeing the Al Jazeera interview with the artist. What’s interesting is the people’s reaction to the piece. It was surprising that, knowing it was about female genital mutilation, they continued to cut. Even as it cried out. And these were women doing the cutting as they sheepishly giggled. Did their desire to cut up that black image override the horror of simulating female genital mutilation. Was the medium to blame. Maybe they just really wanted that cake. Personally, the piece gives me pause, can’t say how I feel. But I’ve definitely lost my appetite.

    Robin says:
    May 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I needed to get this out when I read your comment Samedi. The artist himself said that the cake had NOTHING to do with female genital mutilation. Why it looks like it has is probably just a coincidence that they started to cut the cake at the bottom.

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