• Sweden edition
 

Lund slave auction response: 'stop being defensive and listen'

Published: 29 Apr 2011 17:26 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Apr 2011 17:26 GMT+02:00

In the aftermath of the recent 'slave auction' stunt carried out by several students at Lund University, there has been too much protesting, and not enough listening, argues US graduate student Cate Bridenstine, who witnessed the event.

I have debated whether or not to add anything further to the discussions currently taking place at Lund University about race and bigotry and the role of the nations in all of this – especially since it has become clear that along with abundant support and kind words, those who choose to speak and be named will face a host of disturbing consequences.

I do not wish to hash out the potential humor in blackface or reiterate my disgust with the tacit acceptance many students demonstrated at the sittning (official banquet) in question. I would, however, like to weigh in on how the conversation is being conducted.

Since filing a complaint with the police last week, Jallow Momodou has endured an incredible degree of harassment ranging from having his personal information plastered over the internet to photoshopped images of him naked in shackles being distributed throughout Lund.

He has become a lightning rod for the defensive and angry in Sweden who have felt personally implicated by the mention of racism at the university.

Let us be clear: what has been inflicted upon Jallow Momodou constitutes hate speech. It is also an obvious attempt to silence those who may wish to speak up in the future.

These acts warn us against change. Stop speaking, they say. You are overreacting, they insist; it was simply a joke. Slavery happened a long time ago, we are told. Get over it.

But instead of coercing silence, we must listen.

Listen to the students who feel marginalized and silenced when their countries, histories and bodies are mocked and derided.

Slicked on face paint, bafoonish red lips and the mock selling of human flesh is a violent assertion that there are spaces on campus where only select students are welcome. The virulence of the community’s reaction only confirms our need for this discussion.

Please listen. Instead of insisting that your reality must also be another’s, accept the possibility that what you have been taught might have come at the cost of another history.

Listen to the students who no longer feel safe because they are being threatened virtually and on the street.

For those of us who have grown accustomed to institutionalized racism and the white privilege it ensures: we have almost always been told that our experiences are the norm, that how we feel about the world is valid and important, so listening might prove difficult.

But it is time for those who usually speak to quiet for a moment and listen. Please stop insisting that your beliefs are universal, that those who feel differently should stop speaking their truths.

Our school is filled with unique individuals and that multiplicity deserves a conversation governed by civility and respect.

However, not all perspectives receive equal consideration in social, legal and cultural spheres. Some are constantly and with great institutional backing, privileged over others.

I’m writing this because I would like to say again: please quiet your defensiveness and listen.

Listen so that perhaps instead of hate and violence, the useless destruction they cause may succumb to mutual understanding and the soul-expanding possibilities of looking at the world through someone else’s eyes.

Cate Bridenstine is an American graduate student at Lund University. She saw the Lund students portraying "slaves" complete with blackened faces and ropes around their necks the Helsingkrona nation after they left the banquet at Hallands nation. Her article was first published in Lund Uninversity's Lundagård newspaper on April 25th, 2011.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs that are laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

Kids in Victorian drag mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian drag mark Swedish Easter

In India, I'd notice Easter only from the traffic jam outside the churches, but here witches, egg hunts, and feathers mark the Christian holiday. The Local's Deepti Vashisht brings you the various shades of Swedish Easter. READ () »

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Chemtrails?: Shutterstock.

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe

A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. READ () »

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid
Fredrik Reinfeldt answers the constitutional affairs committee's questions. Photo: TT

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid

Sweden's prime minister on Thursday said Vattenfall itself, not its owners the Swedish state, had responsibility for the loss-making Nuon deal. READ () »

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer
Photo: TT

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer

A Swedish lawyer says the Swedish military may have broken the law when it raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp. READ () »

Good weather could blight Easter traffic
Easter traffic two years ago on the E4 motorway. File: Jessica Gow/TT

Good weather could blight Easter traffic

Traffic experts have cautioned Swedes heading to the countryside for what should be a sunny Easter, warning that the most serious accidents often take place when the weather is clement. READ () »

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia
Jas Gripen jets in flight. File photo: TT

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia

Swedish defence giant Saab has offered to rent out fighter jets to Malaysia. READ () »

What's On in Sweden

What's On in Sweden

Check out what's happening with The Local's guide to the main attractions and events in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö - in association with DoToday. READ () »

Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV
Grossed out Ica woman at Easter dinner. Screengrab from Ica

Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off TV

A Swedish supermarket has decided to withdraw its Easter commercial, after Christians complained it made a mockery of communion - "They crossed the line." Sweden's advertising watchdog will now look into the case. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Advertisement:
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

748
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com