A Calm Call to Action: African Women and the “Golliwog Cake”
“Toni Morrison has used the following metaphor to describe the invisibility of whiteness: it is like the fishbowl that contains both fish and water. Whiteness, in other words, provides the very context for meaning-making. It supplies the norms and categories against which all groups are measured. But the categories of whiteness are invisible as constraint because we keep focusing on what is inside them — the water and the fish, rather than the fish bowl itself.” [Audrey Thompson]
I don’t know about you, but in a week where I had seemingly been inundated with a litany of posts, about, “Whites in Shining Armor” and “White Privilege” in the development field post KONY 2012, I’ve yet to see or hear the corollary of this, which might include righteous indignation of the same measure concerning Sweden’s “Golliwog Cake”. Sweden’s Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth and the artist, black Swede, Makode Linde, have rightly met a barrage of criticism on a global scale that has gone beyond blogsphere and into the mainstream media. However, in the midst of this cacophony of noise surrounding the latest installment of the ‘White Savior Industrial Complex’ I ask the question, what is to be done? We are no longer talking about some [proxy][ NGO, run by Invisible Children, we have now graduated to the hallowed halls of power occupied by GROWN ADULTS who run the Swedish Government. Only this week Afrolens Voices for the Sub-Altern wrote, an open ed entitled, "Dear White Liberals Allies of the Marginalized: Thanks for Acknowledging your Privilege , But...."
“The sensationalist KONY 2012 calamity personified the neo-colonist, paternalistic relationship the Western world has had, and continues to have with marginalized peoples; And through the power of social media, the masses were beckoned to respond, critique, and analyze what all this meant in a globalized, post-social media world. We discussed the implications of ‘the White Saviour’, paradigm, dissected ‘white privilege’, chastised Invisible Children, and promises were made to honor indigenous voices. The marginalized masses shouted, ‘let us speak’, and but I don’t think many of you were listening. Here’s where I make enemies, and begin to formulate my misgivings about our recent and continuing conversations surrounding ideas of ‘white privilege’, ‘racial justice’, ‘representation’, and indigenous ownership about the narratives of the marginalized.”
Internationally renowned Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina had this to say on the controversial devils pie: “That “art” like so many others, was not for “awareness” or “shock appeal” – it was for the entertainment and enjoyment of the bullet proof liberals who rule the planet, and who consume the pain of others as a product they like to call “charity” or “giving back”. The most important thing to know is that the makers, the buyers, the ministers are all utterly bullet proof. They believe that nothing you or I can do can move or hurt them. The only platform for communication, recognition or engagement is inside the world of pity, and leftovers. This is the true power of the world today, the thing to be feared, for when it decides to destroy you, with contracts and policies,and AID – it will make it seem as if it is doing you a favour – and if you are a fool, you will believe it. You are truly invisible, and if you have dreadlocks they will want to have sex with you, and turn you into a well paid trophy for dinner parties.”
“All our silences in the face of racist assault are acts of complicity.”
― bell hooks, killing rage: Ending Racism
“After all, acknowledging unfairness then calls decent people forth to correct those injustices. And since most persons are at their core, decent folks, the need to ignore evidence of injustice is powerful: To do otherwise would force whites to either push for change (which they would perceive as against their interests) or live consciously as hypocrites who speak of freedom and opportunity but perpetuate a system of inequality.”
― Tim Wise
This is a call on behalf of all black African women to action by ALL who seek to challenge the blatant injustice of racism in all it’s manifestations. I wait to hear constructive proposals.
-Dr Claudette Carr
Read more here: Sweden: the country where racism is just a joke
copyright 2012, Dr Claudette Carr
Dr Claudette Carr is is the Founder and Executive Director of the Jethro Institute for Good Governance (J!GG).
Please contact me at email@example.com or tweet me @honestlyAbroad if you wish to get involved.