By Enrique Tessieri
What type of feelings does the term mamu, the shortened form of maahanmuuttaja, or immigrant, awaken in you? Mamu is less commonly used today than before but you can still see it peppered in the media. A fresh example is the Green Party’s Vihreä Lanka.
In order to call somebody a nickname you have to know the person pretty well and then proceed with caution. If Finns call immigrants mamu is it then ok in the media for men to call women gimma and women call men, äijä?
My blood boils every time I see the term mamu in print. Even twilight-zone terms like maahanmuuttajataustainen, or a person with an immigrant background, are offensive because they exclude rather than include people in our society.
Bloggers like JusticeDemon have correctly pointed out on a number of occasions how difficult it is to figure out what maahanmuuttajataustainen actually means. At our school, a so-called maahanmuuttajataustainen refugee may have lived in three countries. Most of those years may have been in Finland.
Why is it important to know if a person — and especially a child — has an immigrant background or not? The most important matter for that person is acceptance and respect.
Prying into a person’s background and, on top of this, calling him an offensive nickname or giving him an obscure identity are pretty offensive in my opinion.
If you see people doing this don’t be afraid to point it out.