Our reaction to intolerance in Finland has paid off. At least it did for me late-Friday night in downtown Joensuu when I was about to parallel park my car.
Thanks to associations like JoMoni working in close cooperation with local authorities like ELY-keskus, Joensuu have challenged intolerance. In many respects, it’s like the success of the North Karelian cardiovascular disease project of the 1960s and 1970s. Source: City of Joensuu.
A young man holding two beer cans, who was standing next to a parked car with his friends, wouldn’t move when I asked him to. He just stared back and started laughing.
He eventually moved to the side. That’s when he yelled: ”Damn n-word.”
I got out of my car and asked him what he called me.
”Nothing,” he responded.
While this situation may appear insignificant, it was an encouraging example of how hard work and countless anti-racism campaigns in Joensuu have changed matters.
The young man and his friends probably knew that they could get into hot water with the law if they continued to provoke me with their racist remarks. This was Joensuu 2013, not the 1990s.
The North Karelian city used to be a hotbed of skinhead activity and racism in the 1990s. Back then, a black basketball player of the local Kataja team was beaten up and moved back to the United States.
The message of those who play down racism, and thereby embolden this social ill, is clear: We’re too powerful, too strong for you to confront.
Wrong: You are being challenged. We will send you back to where you came from.