The Mic Movement
amplifying art in berlin & beyond


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.” 


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


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