Swedish Blackface Cake Was Brilliant Commentary

The Local
The Local

Ebony's Jonathan Pitts-Wiley says that while he was initially enraged, he changed his mind after taking a closer look at the meaning behind the controversial cake.


Upon first sight, I reacted quickly and angrily, dashing off an open letter to the Swedish culture ministry, wondering who thought such a cake was a good idea, and immediately passed it along to my editor here. I was confident she would approve of the approach and quick turn-around.

She told me to dig deeper, to explore the elements of the storm further, especially the motivations of the cake’s creator, artist Makode Aj Linde (who is a person of color, if that makes a difference to you). The directive forced me to cool down and deal with this troubling confection and the meaning of subject, audience and context.

So, I considered Linde’s perspective on his work, which often features what we would consider stereotypical Blackface caricature—garishly white eyes, red lips and white teeth—painted onto incongruous images—European busts, animals, etc. The cake and performance, he says, were meant to be provocative commentaries on the West’s view of African female circumcisions. Stifling my impulse to tell him exactly why he failed, I forged on to watch the video of the event and had my mind blown.

Linde nailed it. He absolutely nailed it.

Read Jonathan Pitts-Wiley's entire piece at Ebony.