Danish FM weighs into Swedish 'racist-plaster' debate

Minister says he is "glad he doesn't live in Sweden" after debate about whether beige plasters uphold "whiteness norm".

    'Ebon-Aide' plasters were produced in the US in the 1990s in shades of liquorice, mocha, coffee, cinnamon, and honey skin
    'Ebon-Aide' plasters were produced in the US in the 1990s in shades of liquorice, mocha, coffee, cinnamon, and honey skin

    Denmark's foreign minister has stepped into a debate in Sweden on whether the lack of plasters in other colours than beige are upholding a racist "whiteness norm," saying he is "glad he doesn't live in Sweden".

    The debate started when Paula Dahlberg, a blogger born in Colombia, argued on a radio talk show that the labelling of only beige plasters as "skin-coloured" contributed to everyday racism.

    "Usually I try and find a clear plaster, to try and be a little more discreet, precisely because there are no plasters available close to my skin colour … it's part of what is usually called the whiteness norm, that white people are normal," she said.

    I'm grateful that I live in a country where we debate more important issues than the colours of plasters.

    Kristian Jensen, Danish FM

    The national pharmaceuticals retailer, Apoteket, responded to the criticism by saying it was already investigating the possibility of stocking its stores with plasters suitable for other skin colours.

    The debate was widely reported in Denmark, which has more restrictive policies on immigration than Sweden and whose media often mocks Swedes for being too politically correct.

    Linking to a Danish article about the plaster controversy on Facebook, Kristian Jensen, Denmark's foreign minister, wrote: "Am once again glad I don't live in Sweden..."

    'Unworthy comment'

    Drude Dahlreup, a political science professor at Stockholm University, told Swedish media it was "unworthy" of a foreign minister to make such a comment about a neighbouring country.

    Dahlerup is herself from Denmark and said it is increasingly becoming a trend among Danish politicians to make domestic poltiical gains by portraying Sweden in a bad light.

    But Jensen told Danish TV2 that he had merely been making a light-hearted comment.

    "I'm grateful that I live in a country where we debate more important issues than the colours of plasters," he said.

    Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said: "I think that he's [Jensen] new at his job as foreign minister.

    "You have to forgive those kinds of transgressions. I'm sure he'll learn," she told Swedish news agency TT.

    In the late 1990s, "Ebon-Aide" plasters were first marketed in the US "for people of colour".

    Produced in shades of liquorice, mocha, coffee, cinnamon, and honey skin, the plasters were taken off shelves after only 20,000 boxes of the original one million pack production run were sold, according to The Atlantic.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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