By Enrique Tessieri
One of my biggest problems I had in challenging institutional racism in Finland was that I accepted being a member of such an order of things. Even if I had every right to claim Finnish identity from my mother’s side, I did not do so because I reinforced with my silence the stereotypical and even racist views that some Finns held about people like me.
Many of us Finns with international backgrounds are a Perussuomalaiset (PS) party’s worst nightmare. Everything about us defies their bigoted and even racist view of the outside world and, importantly, who has the right to be accepted as a Finn.
You will find amongst us tens of thousands of people from all walks of life and backgrounds: blacks, whites, Orientals, Amerindians, Southern Europeans, Middle Easterners, young, old, blondes, people with dark hair, bald people, short, tall, thin, obese, gays, lesbians, Jews, Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims and atheists.
Despite our different backgrounds, there is one matter that unites us as a community: Finland.
Even if my journey to discover my Finnishness on my own terms took many decades of searching, I sincerely hope that your journey to discover your Finnish identity will be much shorter than mine. Don’t give in to those who loathe you by excluding you with their spiteful arguments or those who try to rob you of one of your most precious matters: your identity.
Even if it sounds inconceivable, there are people in this country who still believe in 2012 that everything must be done to keep Finland an only white society. We must not allow them to carry out their treachery.
History is another culprit that reinforces institutional racism and reinforces our strong sense of “us” and “them.” It seems that we are constantly praising those who are dead and wars that ended many decades ago. We speak of these heros and wars as if they are the only great accomplishments that this country ever made.
Every time we travel back in time to former wars and glorify late marshals and generals, we end up emphasizing our suspicion of those people and countries that wanted to put us in harm’s way.
Even if I respect the people who fought in those wars, we must learn move on and look to the future.
The sooner we do this the better.