finishing Lisa Lowe's "The Intimacies of Four Continents" + watching last night's patisserie episode of GBBO has me really thinking about the colonial implications of Hermine's appearance and voting off on the show.
as an African woman from Benin, Hermine's extensive knowledge of French patisserie is tied directly to histories of colonial violence, influence, and exchange.
going into this week, Hermine was positioned by the judges, contestants, show hosts, and the show's editors as being the favorite of the week. everyone commented to her about the pressure of success, of how this should be so easy for her, that she should clearly be the winner...
which in effect made Hermine exceptional--she, as the inheritor of French colonial cuisine, was positioned as the "natural" favorite to win, and thus her task was to live up to those expectations.
suffice it to say, that didn't happen. Hermine, who is the only one who twice one star baker, landed in the bottom two after a tough week. the other person in the bottom was Laura, a white woman who is often in the bottom two and has had an uneven time on the show
i cannot help but see the decision to send Hermine home and keep Laura as an extensive punishment to Hermine for not "living" up to the exceptional French colonial subject she was made to inhabit
Prue's line about how she was personally so disappointed in Hermine read to me as a racialized "putting in place"--Hermine was made exceptional, and it was that very exceptionalism that had to be foreclosed in the colonial whiteness of the tent.
the personal insult was that Prue had put her faith in a Black woman and was let down; it was a staged production of a colonial logic in which the colonial subject would never be able to perfectly mimic the colonizer, only to lead to "disappointment"
i think it's also important to note that Hermine continually *refuses* to inhabit the role of exceptionalism foisted upon her. as the show hosts and judges continually make note about how this should be simple for her, she continually rejects that logic, insisting she is a baker
just like everyone else, and refusing an antagonistic relationship between herself and the other bakers.
fuck the colonial racism of the show, I hope Hermine gets everything she wants in this world
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