This year’s Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013 report by Migrant Tales reveals something that we’ve known all along but had difficulty challenging: Accepting others who are different from us as equals.
This is unfortunate considering that we have all the legal means to do so. Our Constitution guarantees cultural diversity and sees discrimination as a crime.
One of the reasons why intolerance isn’t still taken seriously in Finland is because of the factors that have led to our lack of cultural diversity. It’s very difficult, although not impossible, for the media, politicians and public to grasp the adverse nature of intolerance if you’re white.
A good indication that we are stuck in the same spot we were a long time ago is how some Finns see the “other,” which are rarely accepted and labelled as Finns but a variety of odd names from “people with immigrant backgrounds” to “mamu,” a Finnish name for Uncle Tom.
Apart from not being accepted as Finns, even if they were born and grew up in this country, nobody tells you or gives you a hint on how many generations you’ll have to live here in order to be accepted as a Finn.
We don’t need to search for an answer to the latter question. The Romany minority, which has lived in Finland for about 500 years, offers us a disturbing answer on acceptance.
All of the labels used to classify our cultural diversity and different groups in Finland don’t promote social equality but reinforce social inequality. The only term that comes close to promoting social equality is New Finn.
One of the first and foremost steps that we must do in order to change the “us” and “them” mentality in Finland is throw most of the ethnic labels, which are placed by the majority on the minority, into the dustbin.
According to Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013 report, this year’s overall grade* for promoting and defending cultural diversity in this country was between +5 and -6 in 2013 versus +5 in the previous year. Five of the eight members of the Migrant Tales editorial board had mixed feeling about the final grade: three gave the country a 7, while two gave it a 5 and 4. An average score on cultural diversity is a modest result.
Read Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013 report here.
* The grade given to Finland shows how the majority of Migrant Tales’ editorial board sees how well the country is promoting and defending cultural diversity. Grading scale: 10 (excellent), 9-8 (very good), 7-6 (average), 5-4 (below average), and 3 (fail).