One matter about intolerance is that it is universal. The social ill can manifest itself in different ways by speaking different languages and historical context but don’t be fooled by these deceptions: Intolerance is the same ogre.
White privilege is one of the many faces of racism and means automatic access or exclusion to the opportunities, social, political and economic capital a society offers due to your ethnic background.
Tim Wise, one of the most prominent anti-racist writers and speakers in the United States, defines white privilege as “any advantage, opportunity, benefit, head start, or general protection from negative societal mistreatment, which persons deemed white will typically enjoy, but which others will generally not enjoy.”
A good example of white Finnish privilege exposed in a recent YLE television program by Sam Kingsley, where an undercover group comprising of a Finn, Russian and Somali, attempted to see if they would be treated differently when applying for a job, seeking an apartment, asking complete strangers for help, and getting access to a night club.
If white privilege in the United States has an aim, so does white Finnish privilege.
How did white Finnish privilege ever come to these shores? One of its many roots is the colonial period, when European powers concocted excuses to pillage and exclude other groups in their colonial empires that weren’t white. These pernicious systems, which exist in Europe today, gave the colonial powers a moral pretext to not only commit genocide but ensure that the spoils went to them.
Click here if you want to read more about the roots or our racism in Finland and Europe.
One of the reasons why Are you a target of racism in Finland became such a successful posting in 2007 is because it exposed how racism would work in this society at a time when it was still strongly denied.
An article on BuzzFeed Community highlights, 17 deplorable examples of white privilege, not only sheds light on how it occurs in the United States but gives us the opportunity to create a “white Finnish privilege meter” that will help you know if you are the perpetrator or victim. Take the test blow and answer yes or no.
- Because of white privilege, you’ll never have to worry about becoming the victim of law enforcement officers (US). One good example of this is the recent debate about ethnic profiling by the police (in Finland).
- Because of white privilege, you’ll never have to inform your children of the harsh realities of systemic racism. True. Since you won’t have to inform your children in Finland about racism, they’ll grow up playing down or denying the existence of racism in Finland. Well, almost…
Read full story here.
3. White privilege means you can be articulate and well spoken without people being “surprised.” This means in a Finnish context that you speak the language like a native but still get asked: ”Where are you from” or “where did you learn to speak our language so well?”
4. Because of white privilege, you’ll never know what it’s like to have the following statistic looming over your head. In the Finnish context it means ethnic profiling and being victimized and labelled a rapist, terrorist and common thief. Ask Finland’s Romany minority if in doubt how this works so efficiently and systematically.
5. White privilege allows you to speak on any particular subject without being the sole representative for your entire race. Here’s a Finnish version of the latter: Mohammed, you’re a refugee. Is there racism in this country?
6. White privilege means no one questions why you got that really great job, it’s assumed you were just highly qualified. In Finland some may comment: You’re an exception or you got where you did because of you’re foreigner and therefore have certain privileges.
8. White privilege means you don’t have to worry about being monitored in a store just because the hue of your skin is a bit darker than most. A common complaint by some people who aren’t white is that it’s played down in Finland. White people tell non-whites that racism is a figment of their imagination.
9. Having white privilege means people will never label you a terrorist. Some Perussuomalaiset MPs commonly victimize and label certain ethnic groups as rapists, criminals, social bums and terrorists.
10. White privilege means not being affected by negative stereotypes that have been perpetuated and ingrained so much into American society that people believe them to be fact. In the past years, how many negative stereotypes have been perpetuated and spread in Finnish society about immigrants, and visible minorities? So many that it helped an anti-EU and anti-immigrant party, the Perussuomalaiset, win 39 seats in parliament from 5 in the previous election.
11. White privilege means you never have to explain why cultural appropriation is a bad thing. This picture below says it all.
Aake Kalliala and Pirkka-Pekka Petelius reinforcing stereotypes and racism of the Roma in Finland.
12. If you benefit from white privilege, you’ll never be told to “get over slavery.” In Finland you’ll never be told to “get over racism.”
13. Benefitting from white privilege means you can walk the Earth unaware of your color. In Finland it means being in a colorblind bubble that enable you to deny that ethnic background does play a role in discrimination.