From Iceland — "Jakob" Removed From Svarta Kaffið

“Jakob” Removed From Svarta Kaffið

Published May 12, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Alísa Ugla Kalyanova

The statue of the notorious lawn jockey in Svarta Kaffið’s window has been taken down, after years of requests from Icelanders and tourists alike.

Many Grapevine readers are familiar with Jakob (who used to be called Sambó), the lawn jockey that used to adorn the café Svarta Kaffið. Numerous readers have sent us letters expressing shock and bewilderment at the antiquated statue, and tourists on Trip Advisor have also complained of it. In addition, many Icelanders of all colours have criticised the statue as being an anachronism from less tolerant times.

Vísir now reports that the owners of Svarta Kaffið have decided to remove the statue altogether.

Kristín Loftsdóttir, an anthropologist who spoke with Vísir, expressed surprise only that the statue had not been taken down sooner. When asked what is racist about the statue, she replied, “You might ask in return, ‘What isn’t racist about it’?”, pointing out that thelawn jockey is inseparable from deeply racist stereotypes regarding people of African descent.

“The interesting thing about Svarta Kaffið is that there have been Icelanders of African descent who have asked that the statue be taken down,” she said. “It’s of course a positive thing that it’s been done now, but still remarkable that it has taken such a long time.”


Are Icelanders Racist?

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