There are so many postcards depicting the Cake Walk. And so many of them are insulting to people of African ancestry.
But, just as the word “Jitterbug” was apparently an insult (allegedly Lindy Hoppers watching white kids poorly dance to swing music proclaimed that they looked like “jitterbugs” – or, people who had the DTs – and it caught on), the Cake Walk was invented to mock white people dancing.
A South Carolinian told of Griffin, a fiddler who played for the dances of the whites as well as for the “annual cakewalks of his own people”. A story told to him by his childhood nanny in 1901 was repeated by 80 year old actor Leigh Whipple, “Us slave watched white folks’ parties where the guests danced a minuet and then paraded in a grand march, with the ladies and gentlemen going different ways and then meeting again, arm in arm, and marching down the center together. Then we’d do it too, but we used to mock ’em every step. Sometimes the white folks noticed it, but they seemed to like it; I guess they thought we couldn’t dance any better.”
And apparently the person who was the best at strutting their stuff would take the cake (literally and figuratively).
Below is a rare postcard in that it simply depicts people who aren’t white enjoying the Cake Walk.
The stereoview card below is of the same genre in that it seems to be a mere depiction of the Cake Walk – not meant to ridicule the subjects in the photo.