by Jen Graves
on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:07 PM
Yesterday in Sweden, the culture minister cut into a red-velvet cake shaped like a caricature of a dark-skinned African woman's torso. The cut was made in the genitals. The piece was a performance by a mixed race artist (of Swedish and West African descent). The artist put his face where the woman's head would be and screamed during the cuts. Photographs of the performance show people, including the minister who is making the cuts, laughing and smiling.
The artist has told the New York Times that he is "revamping blackface," making racism more "in your face" so that it's "easier to talk about it." He says neither he nor the minister are the problem, and that there is real racism and there are real racists who need to be addressed instead.
The culture minister has been called upon to resign, but says she will not because "art must be allowed to provoke." But apparently it should not provoke her.
This is typical of a culture (just like ours) that believes that the only racism is the overt kind—that racism is not pervasive.
That certain people are racists and if you just find them and exile them, everybody else can sit around in healthy company and laugh about female genital mutilation cake.
The NYT asks the intensely dunderheaded (but expected) question, "So, are these highly public missteps evidence of a racial problem in the highest reaches of European society?"
Western culture was founded on racism.
Until racism stops becoming an us-or-them, I'm-not-a-racist-but-you-are issue, these kinds of profound and perverse disconnects will continue to proliferate. Another racial "bafflement" will arrive any moment now.