Dear Sarah Baartman, I am sorry.

Dear Sarah Baartman, I am sorry.

What else can American society, no, the world say to Sarah Baartman if they had a chance to speak to her? I am sorry should easily roll off of people’s tongues. However, if all the nations combined and screamed I’m sorry to her, that wouldn’t be enough. If you do not know who Sarah Baartman is, she was a Black woman who was ridiculed in her life and in death. Her story goes:

Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman was born 1789 in Gamtoos River, South Africa. She was working as a slave in Cape Town when the British, Dr. William Dunlop, manipulated her to coming with them to London, France. They told her if she did, they would not enslave her village. Sarah agreed, never knowing that she will not be able to come back home, or become the icon for Black females sexuality. Of course, there was a huge communication gap between Sarah and the British, but they still took her knowing that she didn’t completely understand the severity of their agreement. The question is, why would the British make such an agreement with an African woman instead of just taking her? Sarah’s body was very, what we call today, voluptuous. She had huge breast and buttocks, which wasn’t uncommon for Khoisan women. British men had never seen a woman shaped like her and their curiosity lead them to humiliate and exploit Sarah sexually. Her body became a justification for the theory that Black women were over sexed and biologically different from White women.

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Once on the ship, Sarah’s beauty was taken away and she would soon be known as The Hottentot Venus or Venus Noir. One thing to note, Venus was the goddess of Love. However, Sarah would never be treated like a goddess. In 1810 (1814), she becomes a part of London’s museum for human oddities. All around Britain, Sarah was sexually objectified. British people had never seen anything like her. But what they forgot was that Sarah wasn’t a thing, she was a person. However, that did not matter to British men. Sarah was raped daily by no less than 60 men a day. There are 365 days in a year. And for 7 years, she was raped. Sarah was raped by 21,900 men in one year, now times that by seven. Although Sarah constantly fought back, she soon was infected with syphilis, which swept through her body quickly, and died. Saartjie Baartman of the Khoi Khoi women was 20 when she was taken from her home and became the pleasure of every British man curiosity.

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After her death, you would think Sarah would finally be able to rest. However, her body was ripped open and her cervix preserved in a jar. They stuck a silver rod up her buttocks and throw her body and placed her on display in the Musee de l’ Homee in Paris. Her remains stayed on display for some 160 years and in 2002 her remains were supposed to be delivered back to her homeland. It was only in 2008 that her remains were finally sent home and she was laid to rest. Her grave is now considered a national heritage site. However, no matter how many titles they give her, to some, she will always be that sexual objectification of Black women.

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Recently (21012), Swedish culture minister,  Adelsohn Liljeroth, chopped up a cake that was similar to many caricatures of Sarah Baartman. However, the cake was supposed to be a highlight for the issue of female circumcision. Why would the cultural minister of Sweden want to chop up a cake that emulates a Black woman (person) to shed light on female circumcision in Africa? The artist who made the cake, Makode Aj Linde,  and whose head is a part of the cake said, “Before cutting me up she whispered, ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear.” In what shape or way is that supposed to be funny? The Afro-American Swedish association said, “cake party’ was meant to problematize female circumcision but how that is accomplished through a cake representing a racist caricature of a black woman complete with ‘black face’ is unclear.” When will the radical ever stop? People do not realize how demoralizing these images are. And if they do and continue to plaster these images everywhere, then that speaks to what kind of world we live in.

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47 thoughts on “Dear Sarah Baartman, I am sorry.

  1. Words cannot describe the number of emotions that I am experiencing. My heart aches for those that experienced this kind of treatment.

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  2. It brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart tremble. What must this do to our Savior’s heart that He gave His life for sinners such as us. “Sad” is insufficient to contain the emotion.

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  3. This is very infuriating. How can everyone stand around as they make light of another cultures history. So racist. Plus in no way shape or form is this art as they have claimed it to be. the tone in the room was not a tone that brought an awareness of female genitalia mutilation, but a tone of lackadaisical concern for the “real” issue. Horrible that people who are insecure with themselves will go about doing such a thing for attention and label it as “provoking art”. Sick.

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  4. Now I see the root of degrading the African female in the US. What a sad situation to repair. However, I am committed to making the change better for all women and men. We will be on the western hemisphere first… Pray for this to come true. I need a name to force the GLOBE to change….. Taking suggestions now

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  5. This is so heartbreaking. I am sad to my core. I am angered by the video and the pleasure they seem to take in this cruelty. They WILL reap what they sow.

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    1. Yes I am very much aware that the artwork has nothing to do with Baartman. However, it does resemble many caricatures of Baartman which angered many. The point of it being with this post is to show how little respect people are showing towards Black women and the hardship that they are going through.

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    2. That’s all good and dandy but why is the cake meant to look like that though. It’s like the same infamous blackface that was used to degrade and embarrass black people in the past. There are other ways to shed light on important issues.

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  6. This is horrible. Heartbreaking, and soul crushing but I am not keeping this with me. We (black women, we and society in general) need to tell all the stories… these stories and some of the current ones continually passed around on TV (RHWATL, etc, etc) are tired and meant to keep us demoralized. I just finished my first fiction novel and it is an uplifting story with a black female protagonist – we have to tell the triumphant stories and all the stories out there – not just the ones that shock and awe. What are we giving our girls to look forward to today? I am changing that. It’s on.

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  7. Meet Sarah’s American Counterpart:
    Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. The New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

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  8. God gave us different skin tone but we are.but one race and it all.started from the BLACKS. Europe one had a beautiful black k queen to which a castle was
    or her. (Queen Charlotte) so racism is blatant ignorance ….We look different but we are born and die the same. When are we going to finallr live appreciating those differences.

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  9. Totally shocking, and it makes me ashamed to be white – what on Earth were they thinking, making a cake shaped like Sarah Baartman! So degrading to Sarah Baartman who had a terrible life. Just some rich people acting like idiots, pretending to care about mutilation/circumcision, when it’s all just about them getting seen.

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    1. You disgust me for even saying that as a fellow white person, you have such a closed mind to whats going on … this goes along with all the other people who see this video and say its all about racism…..complete ignorance ….complete ignorant people almost all of you are especially the white people trying to make themselves look better saying they feel bad for being white …..being white has nothing to do with this at all in the least to start…..get a grip on reality…this is expressionism….read my post below if u want to understand in the smallest what this act was even about……god our people’s minds rot in intelligence with each generation.

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      1. Check her out SHEA B…..Trip you disgust her being FELLOW white person……..LOL!!!!!!!! SHEA words not mine God our people she ends with, Don’t be in Disgust with Trip because they (your ancestors) have brain washed you grip that chain an beat him he is a African lover……..

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  10. People see a black person in this and say its racism, the idea that you do not even think that they are replicating how baartman was abused in freakshows and how others were abused in freakshows was the point? . People in this are picking and tearing apart a black person (baartman) in this video for their own pleasure and entertainment, the reality is that it is to show the reality of how it portrayed those that were humilated and torn apart by the use of themselves for entertainment…try having an open mind and seeing stuff for what it is and not just for the color it is….this is showing how people will casually tear people apart for their enjoyment and not for cake…….its showing the past and present………….open your mind

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    1. Well that’s bull, you know just as well as I that was not portrayed as entertainment of how freaks where humiliated Shea B. Face the truth….

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  11. There are one hour that i saw a moovie about Sara Bartman here in Portugal and Itried to learn more about her. I saw this vídeo and even this vídeo (tried to show how she was abused ???) I was shocked with the terrible nonsense. i can`t believe that a minister of culture can do so and the persons around do that . Look at the face of her cutting the cake…a complete nonsense!

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  12. Only if our young African woman would know this bit of history an put a stop to this….see this is steel going on today, being unaware of who sarah was an what they thought of her. Now our men African men look at us like they looked at her with a lust filled eye an boy!!!!!! do they give them a show Just like the whites wanted sarah too…..

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  13. The creator of the artwork is from Sweden. His name is Makonde Linde and he’s black. Before freaking out, please at least be aware of that.

    While I couldn’t agree more about how tasteless the whole event was, and how much I can’t stand the art piece, I think it is important to note that.

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  14. I am a South African girl and we were taught about Sara’s history in primary school, only the basics because we were too young to know other things. After reading about all the atrocities she went through I feel like our black brothers are failing us, they do exactly what the white men did and still do to us. Cat callings with eyes saturated with lust is blatant disrespect and dishonor considering our past.
    What I’m seeing there is not art, the guy who made the cake is just tryn’ please the whites around him. There are better wayd to address this issure. After all we’ve been through as Africans…this has to stop and it starts with the mental shift. Francia our ancestors did not brainwash us, it was white people. Read the Wesley Lynch letter from 1712: How to make a slave
    This mentality that blacks have was orchestrated systemically by whites treating us like horses…I can go the whole day. Can everyone read that letter please.

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    1. Hello Alexis,
      I think you are referring to the Willie Lynch letter. There’s an ongoing debate from various scholars about the authentic of the letter. Many believe it to be fake b/c of the language used. I’m not completely convinced that the letter is real. I’ll have to do more research into it.

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