- or why Hiphop and Pop Culture are my starting points in the discussion about racism in Sweden.
This article post was supposed to be published earlier, but is pretty much perfect to publish today on the Swedish National Day!
A couple of weeks ago, the Black Face-Talk, organized by the 2FACED1-cousins in the HiphopStudies-Network EachOneTeachOne became a brief introduction of many different perspectives on Sweden. Each one of the people in the panel could have made a lecture on their own, but we just had two hours, and I think EOTO wanted to give a broad picture of how intricate the matter they wanted to shed more light on, was.
First some things about the country of Sweden, a country which has a tradition of anti-racism and supporting of civil right movements - in other countries. Because in Sweden itself racism officially doesn't exist anymore, the word race, the way it was used to describe humans is removed from the national dictionary over ten years ago. With the best intentions yes. But how to talk about something that clearly does exist, judging from statistics showing that ethnicity* still matter - who's in what positions in the Swedish Society, without words?
Tobias Hübinette seeks answers to why racial slurs** that's not accepted in other countries still is in use in "good, old, anti-racist, open minded Sweden", in his Essay Racial Slurs (svensk version här):
Can it be explained by an innocent attitude towards historical events which are not being felt to relate to Sweden, and by a sincere openness towards wanting to stay neutral and be objective when it comes to controversial historical issues? How much is this about a Nordic and a Swedish exceptionalism and amnesia and an inability to accommodate minority experiences on a psychic level and consequently be able to reproduce and maintain colonial and racist structures and hierarchies?
Is there a connection in the attitude towards these words and a Sweden where not everyone living here has the same "right" to shape it? Have these attitudes something to do with a brain drained Sweden where many of my friends with a mixed background don't see a natural future in the Sweden, a Sweden is meant to be so good, no matter how bright and talented they are? Instead they are moving abroad to start their future. (Just like 100% ov the kids interviewed in before mentioned "Att färgas av Sverige" wants to do) Or has this something to do with how the Swedish labour-market looks? I think so.
Tobias Hübinette in the same essay:
97% of the people in the SIFO's research says that the former use of an Asian stereotyped malicious portrait on candy box called Kina-puffar*, can not be considered insulting by anyone. In another SIFO research 95 % of the Swedes call themselves anti-racists. The conclusion is: the Swedish anti-racism is racist!
Does Makode Linde's Painful Cake show a similar scenario? And does that mean that this country have an ego image concerning racism that doesn't resonate with what actually is going on?
A wake up call is needed for those who believe Sweden is OK because Sweden might be better than other countries in certain statistics. This is people lifes and it's not anywhere close to OK yet.
But is it all misery?
I'd say no, because there is counter culture. In this Swedish mindset of people seeing themselves as anti-racists (without REALLY being it yes but go on read on) there is a certain openness too, a curiousness that got American Jazz musicians invited at an the early stage, made Bob Marley live in Sweden for a little while and evolved in to a really early DJ Culture. This openness definitely have sections of Exoticism in it, but it's at least an open door where there is an entrance to another way of thinking.
Some do not take it serious at all, "entertainment", others like myself, take it dead serious. Parallel with a so called "Swedish Training" in what used to be "Swedish" there has been something else. Popular Culture. A culture that; at it's best has been including free norm-critical thinking***, and at it's worst; cultural imperialism and a mash up of stereotypes and capitalism that re-produce old norms. Regardless on what perspective you choose, Pop Culture is one of the fastest and most globally spread phenomenas, even before the use of the Internet. Common references makes us talk, could Pop Culture function as a common language, instead of only getting us stuck in discussing whether it's good or bad culture all the time?. With the creation of Internet, the physically location lost it's power as deciding denominator, and suddenly there is a new canon containing of things we have in common with people from different parts of the world, a culture that is way less connected to the things we're born into, such as national location, gender, class****, ethnicity and sexuality. New possibilities lies in this.
And this is where 2FACED1 comes in, for us - the search of transnational identities!
An example: The Swedish situation concerning racism, where we don't talk about certain issues - at all. Can we from our transnational networks, based on for example Popular Culture, seek help to change an old norm? I believe we can, think about the Cake-gate, people all over the world were looking at Sweden with eyes the official Sweden wasn't used to be looked upon with. Can that help the Swedes to wake up from the current state of mind?
I'll go back to what i said in Spanish/American METAL Magazine 2010:
METAL: .What is the importance of black culture in your creative world?
DECIDA: I’m brought up in Hip Hop culture, which nowadays is a global culture. We were a mixed bunch of people, the folks I would call 2FACED1s today, who wasn’t really shaped for the, at the point, typical Swedish identity. So we gathered around a subculture which included an alienation we could relate to in some way. This meant during the 90s, even if you where a Swedish teenager, to read Marcus Garvey, know what a Zootie was, buy The Four Horsemen album, all in order to be “real”. Later on I understood we all was a part of a global modern urban culture rather than Hip Hop, it was just a vessel to put our creativity in, but I’m still stick with the references.... I used to love H. E. R.... always will!"
Remember, country boarders doesn't really exist. Somebody just made them up.
*of course not separated from class, gender, religious etc believes but still, sadly, a defining factor. Ask i e any adopted middle class non-white person if you don't belive it.
**Note: The candy Kina-puffar is not the main problem, it's rather about there being too few other versatile representations of i e Asian-looking (and non-whites) in Swedish media and decision-making, power positions.
***Hiphop, Soul, Reggae, Dancehall, Electro, Jazz (and even Techno, House). All these styles have a built in criticism against both Capitalism as we know it and the post colonial society. You know I love my Sun Ra.
**** of course class affect accessibility to culture and Internet etc, but with a more free supply of information via Internet it at least is easier.
By Carl Johan De Geer "Desecrate the Flag, Refuse to Bear Arms" (CDG who I've hung out with some months ago, more on this in the future)
PS. Somebody chose to misunderstand what I said, and maybe I wasn't super clear either since I'm not as used to be in panels (I'm working with visual tools...). But; I of course didn't mean somebody should speak for somebody else, I meant that everyone that understand the pain the structure brings has a responsibility to make room for a discussion about it, even if they're not feeling that pain themselves. It's our collective responsibility. That's what 2FACED1 is about, to through ones own double perspective on oneself and how one are viewed upon by others, also understand other peoples struggle.
PS. II Vi kommer inte #tystasned
PS. III Shit Snubbar Says To Blattar
PS. IV Jakten på Svenskheten