Breaking Brown

April 20, 2012

Chatter About Coon Cakes


For those of you who don’t subscribe to my Facebook feed….. you really should. If you did, then I wouldn’t have to reconstruct conversations from Facebook for consumption elsewhere.

Anyway, here’s a snippet from a back and forth I had with a FB friend about the Swedish coon cake in which FB friend Duane made the case that the cake wasn’t newsworthy, and that the only reason the cake made front page on black media was because it was sure to drive page clicks. My position was, and is, that 1)  the cake is newsworthy vis a vis its cultural import 2) The fact that a black dude baked that coon cake and put it out there for public consumption under the guise of “art”, made it all the more newsworthy, at least for black people. It began like this, and went on like this for a minute:

Duane: Its amazing how White folks eating a cake half way around the world will get front page coverage in our (Black) media. But black kids getting shot up left and right…uhruh-uh, we might mention it right after we talk about Rihanna flashin’ one of her tiddays again. that right there is just as sick as these fools eating this cake.

Me: You mean black media’s coverage of topics like these:


or this:

Yeah. Uh-huh.

I have a number of issues with black media’s coverage of a variety of issues, mostly as it relates to their coverage of Obama and business related topics. But the whole “black media doesn’t care about black on black crime” meme is a non-starter.

Then I said that we, black people, do ourselves a disservice by making coon cakes for people like the Swedish Minister of Culture, to which, I got this response:

Duane: “we” also do ourselves a disservice? Or did this ONE Black guy make himself look like a complete idiot? I’m not taking ownership of that. A White man in Norway can cap off dozens of people and never once did I see White folks calling this a “we” issue. Again, another non-issue that serves two purposes: to drive traffic and to keep Black folks mad.
Again, under news for thegrio. On the front page of theroot.

Me: I think collectivism plays into a minority community’s success. I, for one, don’t buy into this sort of individualism which assumes that one’s individual actions don’t impact the whole. They do, especially in high profile instances, such as this one. They set the standard for what we, as a community, will accept -what we will grin and bear. AS Anthony touched on earlier, I haven’t seen a Jewish person in the business of making swastika cakes -ever, and there’s a reason for that. There’s a standard.

When AA’s get to the point where other communities are collectively and economically, then we can discuss abandoning the “we”, but I’m not there yet. You are free to behave as you wish.

Me (again): The problem we really face in black media is one of proportion. You should have, say 80% fruit and veggies, and 20% snacks, snacks only because Americans have grown accustomed to their sugar high, and if you don’t give it to them, TMZ most certainly will. The problem is not that this is being covered, but that the coverage of  other topics – I go back to Obama’s policy initiatives – are covered shoddily, by people with only a scant amount of understanding of policy issues. That’s the real issue here. That’s where you’ve erred, I believe.

Duane: But sis, what (or should I say “who”) made this case “high profile in the first place? It was an odd and very stupid story. And we pumped it up.
Secondly…regarding your swastika cake scenario – the American Left is full of Jews who side with Palestinians that bomb Israel. I still have not figured that one out yet.
Thirdly, on your take of individualism vs. collectivism (funny how we got here from a dang cake) – A Black man who robs a bank goes to jail. I don’t. A person who works hard, takes full advantage of advantages around him will more than likely be successful. The person who did nothing will amount to nothing. Overall, yes as Black people we are intertwined. But I have no reason to take ownership of somebody mess who does not even know the difference between what should be shameful vs. art. He has 0 bearing on my life. A trend of young Black men participating in self-genocide in my opinion is alarming, period. Sambo the cake man? Nahh.
Obama’s policy issues? I agree with you there. How that relates to what I’m talking about, I don’t know.
Take care 🙂

Me:  It was… and is.. an odd story. It’s also a story where, again, for the umpteenth time in history, white people are seen getting a hearty chuckle at the black faced picaninny. For me, it’s cautionary, as in don’t take all this “post-racial” talk too serious bc it’s a bunch of crap. And again, the spook that sat by the door is some dude with a dollar bill on his cap talkin’ about how his coon cake is art. LOL.. yeah… o.k. Anyway, It fit well into that narrative. And if black media is to move forward and do more with what it has, then they’ll have to 1) build on an old narrative or 2) create a new one. Guess which one is more difficult?

And Jews who side with Palestinians are not akin to Jews who side with Hitler. The Jews who side with Palestinians are fair minded people who put justice above nationalism. So, there’s really no analogy here. And if you haven’t figured that out… then… well……..

And if ONE black man robs a bank and goes to jail, then yeah, you’re probably safe. But if a bunch of black men, what I’ll call a critical mass of black men, robs a bank, then sooner or later, you’re going to be stopped by the police because you look like a black man who just robbed a damn bank. Like it or not, we’re all connected.

And this is the nitty and the gritty isn’t it? It is, to me, a fallacy to believe that what a black man does in London or Sweden doesn’t impact a black dude in Ghana. We are all connected. Once we “get” that, then maybe there’s a chance for us. Until then… who knows.




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2 thoughts on “Chatter About Coon Cakes

  1. black yoda says:

    It seems to me that cake boy would have to do more to articulate his critique at the very least. He essentially says its existence is a critique, but that photo suggests that some aren’t getting the message. In Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, he began with a definition of satire as a way of making his intentions clear. Cake boy went to the other extreme and said very little about his intention. The video he did release doesn’t lead me to think he’s thought very deeply about this at all. You can see a Swastika at a Jewish history museum or a meeting for the Aryan nation. The same symbol can evoke very different reactions depending on the context. He may very well feel that his cake is a critique, but how would people know that without something accompanying the cake that more fully explains his position? If I made a Swastika cake, it’s possible that I may be trying to raise awareness of and resistance to anti-semitism. But if I don’t make that clear often and strongly, then it suggests that maybe I don’t know enough about it and what it represents to use it. In short, tell cake boy to write his position on the napkins. The white people might read it before wiping their mouths and throwing it away 🙂

  2. Yvette says:

    lol… couldn’t have said it better….

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