The Futility of “Colorblindness”: Sweden, Makode Linde, and the Grotesque “Art” of Blackface

It is supposedly 2012, and people are said to be post-racial. If this is the case, lots of people have not received the message as long-lived images of images and thoughts dehumanizing Black people still exist. (See also the Jim Crow Museum for Racist Memorabilia.) Because this painful history is still active, any image today that uses it destroys any other message the artist intends to convey. I apply this observation to a peculiar cake in Sweden below.

Unlike many posts under the “futility of colorblindness” title, this example comes from Sweden. It involves Makode Linde, a so-called Afro-Swedish artist. Linde made a cake shaped as a woman depicted in blackface imagery to depict the shameful act of female circumcision. Linde thinks he was brilliant and had a point; it all was for naught: The blackface imagery was the one to which the participants related. Linde is a non-artist as he is drawing on a long line of anti-Black images.

The “art” was lost on the crowd; the Black humanity being supposedly represented was not even recognized.

The Swedish minister for culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, attempts to deflect her lack of humanity with a call to defend the freedom of expression. Freedom of expression already exists; universal recognition and respect of every human’s personhood is what is really needed.

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