Tuesday, 17 April 2012

FGM is not a piece of cake

By Samantha Asumadu


Yesterday another tremor occurred. Another ripple of racism, just one of the many ripples that hide under the guise of humanitarianism or in this case Art.

This is an excerpt from a Swedish news website today (below) and here an article from AlJazeera.

STOCKHOLM (FRIA TIDER). A macabre scene took place this Saturday when the Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth attended a tax funded party for the most powerful cultural representatives in Stockholm. The self proclamed "anti-racist" Liljeroth, who is currently in the process of banning tax support for the only nationalist newspaper in Sweden, inaugurated the festival by cutting a cake that was supposed to depict a stereotyped African woman.

Photographs from the party at World Art Day has already been released on Facebook and is now spreading widely in social media. The shocking pictures shows how several established left-wing members of the Stockholm cultural elite celeberates together with the minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth by slicing and eating a cake depicting a stereotyped African woman.

According to sources the Minister of Culture was invited to initiate the party by doing a ”clitoridectomy” on the cake.’

The cake was part of a World Art Day celebration and meant to protest female circumcision, according to the Moderna Musset museum. The cake was created by artist Makode Aj Linde who also played the cake's head. I have collated some of the reactions from both women & men of African descent and European women below. Not often enough do women of African descent get their voices heard, today won’t be one of those times. Please feel free to comment on this piece, any insightful comments will be moved in to the body of the piece and credited. Thanks

Sincerae Smith wrote:
"OK, the rant is going to start briefly. I'm not putting it up on here but Google or Bing if you like "Swedish Culture Minister Accused Of Racist Cake-Cutting" and see the video. It's very offensive and racist. Africans and others are shocked and one Tweeted that she's just traumatized. You know I am tired of the peasant and degraded level of thinking of too many people now. I am tired of the so-called "activists" of every stripe who claim they are helping people, the world, etc. and nothing gets better. I am tired of people who might brush me off as she's just another "angry black woman." Ah, walk in my shoes for about 5 hundred years. I am tired of people who pretend and play with other's lives. I am tired of those who say they stand for one thing when really what they stand for is appalling. I am tired of people trying to justify a wrong into a right. I am tired of people with their low class, lying, hypocritical, debased outlook, and no morality or decency. Plus they don't want to change. It's always in the end about looking out for number 1, being bigger than anyone else, using people, and pretending. The worse part is, "we're only trying to help." Well, I'm not tricked by your innocent looking eyes. There comes a point when Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's thinking needs to stop for all of the apologists out there too. I am sick and tired of if it all. If you are silent about wrong-doing, if you are friendly with the people who do things and will not repent of their wrong-doing you're passively supporting it. The age of prophets is over, but we need some because I see zero chance for humanity if this continues. I going to say God doesn't like ugly. Humans can't see your heart, but He can. Also I am tired of the people who are trying to do good end up being the ones who get demonized."

Saria Khalifa wrote:
THIS IS EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE and seems quite pointless .. if it was meant to highlight female genital mutilation you would expect at least some facts, statistics, information or perhaps even a more truthful representation of the issue. instead it seems to be poking fun of an issue that is already so culturally charged that a lot pf professionals don’t want to broach the issue (even if that means they are failing on their child protection duties). Never mind the effect that this could have on women and girls who could already be traumatised by their past experiences of female genital mutilation… DISGUSTING!!! not only should the insensitive people cutting the cake be ashamed the artist should to. I am sure there are more sensitive and positive ways to put across a message.. surely artists can be more creative than to resort to shock tactics..


O.O wrote: 
This is simply horrific. People are laughing at the dismembered body of a black wo/man, I can't quite tell, 'comically' screaming in agony, taking pictures! And is it me or do they start with the genitals? WTF!!

Sam Asumadu wrote: 
Its horrific and have had to defend my anger to some swedish women on twitter. I felt sick this morning New African Women tweeted it, now there are articles written, anger levels going up, rightly. People are getting over the aftershock of Invisible Children using Africans pain for their own purposes, pocket and self promotion. Now this. Please note he will make money out of this.

O.O wrote: 
'defend' your anger?! How is it that at 2012 we have to EXPLAIN why this makes us angry? How, How, How? How funny would it have been if it was the body of a white person they were carving up, I'm supposing it would be just as funny. I've looked at it again, and now I think it is a pregnant black woman?! Irrespective of race this is disgusting. The fact though that it is a black person is not accidental, this sort of thing never is. 'Provocative art' meant to make us think what? Complete racism pathetically trying to mask itself as something justifiable in the name of art. So so ANGRY!

Steph Phillips wrote:
This is awful. There are millions of far better ways to highlight the issue of female genital mutilation. I really don't know where to start.

Newt guy wrote:

to me this boils down to a lack of respect for those affected by the issue the cake was representing by those who were in position to make the decision to let this happen. If it were a cake of a girl who gets trafficked from Eastern Europe into prostitution, someone would've asked themselves why would that be a cake that I or my guests are supposed to eat? The question then is why wasn't that asked on this occasion? I think that is what is angering people is that this is another example of European/Western disrespect for things non-European or in this case African. It's easy to look at it as just a clever prank that someone fell for. However, if you make a hypothetical comparison of other potential circumstances where a European feminine issue were to exposed or treated in such a manner, there would be outrage. For me, this isn't about hate, but about understanding the underlying cause. The underlying cause is disrespect. I don't see how anyone can try and dance around that.

Monoio Kaizer wrote on the artist's facebook fan page: 
Well I thought I could find words to explain how dangerous this "so called" artist is to us africans. Just wondering if I could find a jew that would think this is "smart" idea to ridicule his kind the way this guy here did. Wondered also if in that case the minister would have laughed about it. Whites usually are unable to respect us or our sufferings, givent that they're actually both causing and benefiting from such sufferings, but when it's a "black" guy who acts this stupid and dares call it "provocation", well I can't find any word to express how utterly idiotic and lame this is.
I think you're a coward. I wonder how you think your pitiful show helped any woman in this world. Also you should have wondered how they'd feel seing that idiocy of yours you call "art" (are you SERIOUS???).
Who should you be provoking? is it victims of the prejudice you feed on? Or is it the imperialists for whom you're being a good house-nig**r? sorry, not a house nig**er, a restroom- nig**r because this is something even a house nig**er would feel ashamed of.

Michelle Heugh-Joseph wrote on the artist's facebook fan page:
Why do my comments keep disappearing? Cowardly I'd say. As spoken earlier ... as a black artist, there are several people that believe your mannerisms and artistic ability does not speak for black people. The cake was disgusting and for a male black man to depict such ridiuclousness is beyond me! Please feel free to comment!

Victoria Holt wrote on the artist's facebook fan page 
This is not art, this is the trivialization of an immense issue into a shock value performance piece. It's downright trashy. I hope you're proud. At the end of the day, all we are seeing is a black body being mutilated. You are making no further comment on the issue, thus you are perpetuating it.

The following are tweets collated, some were directed to @MrBasabose who was great today in replying to and retweeting peoples reactions.

@AyjayH I don't personally advocate this form of protest. Perhaps ppl have run out of ways to fight the practice?

@honestlyAbroad Fight the practice? In a gallery in Sweden? This is nothing but provocative pity porn. Promoting dehumanisation of women

@MrBasabose Then the NEW way to fight FGM is Swedish dehumanizing the "Black Woman" to HELP her?????? SMH

@AfricanViolet_2 I just saw the video. Disgusting & racist. These ppl have run out of ways to protest. Protests are now down to degradation.

@MrBasabose It's crazy YET people find grounds to JUSTIFY it smh RT @PwinthethRho: MrBasabose speechless

@piwaa I am still traumatised by the Swedish Minister of culture's exhibition!! How distasteful!! And in this day and age!! Siess!!

@lebomashile this 'artwork' is morbid & a gross expression of black woman's worth in this world: we're cake fit to be consumed.

@Anto_Prophy MrBasabose Sjoe, I can't. This is utterly disgusting!

@MrBasabose OUR equal WORLD smh RT @TishBush: "MrB HOW THE HECK DO YOU CALL THIS "ENGAGED ART"? smh

@hoestlyabroad Should I be regretful that I made my points cos he's (the artist) is black? He unveiled his artwork for an audience of Swedish people to laugh and point at. I have no wish to further debate it am afraid as I'm actually really very angry. Thanks
@AyjayH I found the artist: Makode aj linde. And most Swedes are upset by the art too.

@ahamrud to @helenlewis lots of antiracists in Sweden also reacted spontaneously against this pictures - but there is another story

@honestlyAbroad to @ahamrud he decided to unveil it @ an art gallery with a Swedish audience (who laughed & pointed)why not in Congo? or was that not the intended audience of this provocative pity porn? I know who he is, it does NOT excuse the dehumanisation of African women as art. (Re for a white audience) That really doesn't make it right, let him, you and all defending this meet me in Congo on my next trip when we go let's explain to the women we meet that the art is 4 their benefit. They should b happy

@ahamrud to @honestlyAbroad It wouldn't be the same without the white Swedish audience - they are part of the provocation

@honestlyAbroad to @ahamrud for the sake of his profile, his credentials as this will not stop one atrocity. You realise rather than help Invisible Children's efforts has succeeded in killing more in riots. This in my eyes is no different. May cause the same effect and that would be a shame. The wounds of Invisible Kids have not healed

1 comment:

  1. Please don't link to or gives an excerpt from Fria Tider: it's a right-wing extremist racist (bordering to neonazi) webpage, which mixes racism with cultural conservatism and right-wing politics. I've seen other blogs linking to them too, and I hate to see them getting the publicity. (If you read the entire article on Fria Tider you'll see that they're accusing Liljeroth not of racism but of hypocrisy, since she refuses to give governmental support to a extremist right-wing/neonazi periodical.)

    There are other webpages you could link to:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/17/sweden-europe-news

    http://jezebel.com/5902672/swedish-official-gleefully-cuts-racist-black-lady-cake-crowd-laughs--laughs

    http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/sweden-firestorm-over-cake-art-installation-0022178

    ReplyDelete