Back To The Future: Sweden's Racist Venus Hottentot Cake

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[Global Commentary: Europe]
Why The Minister Must Resign
strongly condemn the outrageous, grotesque, disrespectful and racist
event in which Sweden's minister of culture participated in recently and
join in calls on her to resign.

It was billed as an art exhibition, in
Sweden, on World Art Day, April 15, 2012 at the gallery of the Moderna
Museet. Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, the minister of culture participated in
what was purported to be an art installation meant to highlight the
issue of female circumcision/genital mutilation. 

A cake with a
glossy black icing on the outside and a red sponge cake inside, was
shaped as a life-size female naked torso.  Makode Aj Linde, the artist
who created the installation, was in stereotypic minstrel Black face
juxtaposed to the torso cake. As Ms. Liljeroth was called to cut the
cake, she cut a slice of cake from the section that was the vaginal

The artist howled in an animalistic manner, as the area of the cake
representing the genitals was cut by the minister of culture and each
time someone else cut it. Many of those in attendance participated in
cutting of the black cake. As shown in the video, all of those in
attendance, laughed heartily at this supposed dramatization of female
circumcision/genital mutilation, while the artist, as the screaming
head, yelled loudly as each slice of cake was cut.  

display was neither funny nor entertaining, as viewed in the context and
the history of abuse and dehumanization of Black women. It is horrific.
Black people were treated with the utmost irreverence because of the
prejudice, ignorance and inhumanity of people in power, who sought to
justify their mistreatment, based on their color. 
The picture
symbolizes the longstanding perception of Black inferiority and
subordination, to the point that Black women were objects of sexual
pleasure to be used at the whim and fancy of others. No caring,
compassionate person could sit and watch such a minstrel show like the
one in Sweden play out before their eyes without the loudest cries of
It is unacceptable to think that the climate
that was created around this cake event and the artist's participation
in such a manner, specifically was designed to highlight the violence
surrounding the issue of female circumcision and genital mutilation. For
victims of sexual abuse and genital mutilation this "cake party" did
not give voice to their terror but rather their cries fell on the warped
minds and mocking voices of those in attendance. 

caricatures such as these are contrary to the efforts of those who work
to eliminate racism. The horror is only intensified by the fact that the
high-ranking government official, Minister Liljeroth, willingly took
part in this ceremony, smiling broadly and laughing happily while
ignoring such blatant manifestations of racism.  

There are even
tinges of perpetuating the stereotype of cannibalism, by the act of
Minister Lilojeroth feeding the very cake to the "victim" whose "cake
body" is being mutilated. This is in no way a laughing matter.  What
does this say about the Swedish government?  Should it allow an
individual to represent them who willingly smiles and engages in racist

We cannot allow these scenarios of impiety that
only deepen the crime of victimization. The president and executive
staff  of Moderna Museet and the Swedish government should apologize for
allowing the artist to display such racist and grave misrepresentation
of Black women. 

I join the National Afro-Swedish Association,
which calls for the resignation of Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn
Liljeroth.  This action needs to be taken immediately to show the world
that Sweden will not stand for such racist behavior, trying to hide
under the veil of art. This presentation rises to a level of horror that
equals that of the instances during an era of inhumanity when Black
women actually were the subjects of unimaginable medical procedures and
experiments, conducted without their consent and with full knowledge
that the outcomes would lead to their deaths. 

Sweden needs to show in a very direct manner its abhorrence for this atrocity. 
Inez D. Barron is the state Assemblywoman for New York's 40th district, which includes the East New York, Starrett City, and Canarsie sections of Brooklyn.
Readers call Sweden's ambassador to the United States Jonas
Hafstrom at (202) 467-2652, give him your two cents and convey your
demand for an apology and for the minister's resignation.
Also send an email message to so we can update you on any planned activities against this outrage.

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