In countries such as the United States and Brazil the term “race” is used to find out the ethnic diversity of their societies. While it is unclear why Brazil classifies in its census people from different ethnicities, in the United States it is done when drawing up electoral districts.
In order to find out more information on the implementation of the Employment Equity Act, Statistics Canada places minorities into “visible” and “invisible” groups. A visible minority is a “person, other than Aboriginal persons, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in color.”
Finland does not use ethnicity nor race to classify different groups but mother tongue. If we look at the history of this country from the nineteenth century, the role of language has played, and continues to play, in identifying Finns.
Since there were few “visible” immigrants in the nineteenth century in this country, language must have played an important role in helping to figure out from which group the person was.
This brings forth an interesting question: Do some Finns generally discriminate due to mother tongue or skin color – or is it a double whammy? When some employers claim that immigrants “cannot speak Finnish well enough,” are they using language in the same was as color or ethnicity would be used in the United States to discriminate?
Or is language used to discriminate against “invisible” and language+ethnicity for “visible” immigrants?