By Enrique Tessieri
A student from an African country asked me about moving to a city in Eastern Finland. “Is it a nice place?” he said, meaning if there was a lot of racism. Since we can never predict when racism will strike, one good way of confronting this social ill in Finland and Europe is by not running away from it.
Things have been so bad in many parts of Finland that some ethnic groups fear going to a night club alone. Usually they visit these places with a group but never alone.
One may ask how is it possible that some ethnic groups would not chance being in a night club alone for fear of being attacked. What kind of country are we living in? Why do public officials and the police play down this social ill?
The reason why most cases of racism and harassment go unreported in this country is because there is a strong culture of denial in the police for these types of crimes.
A policeman from Mikkeli told a group of foreign students that if they are yelled at and harassed in public they should ignore these insults and not report it to the police. He compared racist harassment with the type of jokes people throw at him as a policeman when he visits his home town.
Certainly another cause for not reporting racist crimes in Finland are immigrants themselves. This has to change not for the sake of the victim but for their children and grandchildren.
It doesn’t matter what “official Finland” thinks about racism. It is what we think of it and how we will react to it.
There are many ways skinning racism but one of them is not running away from the problem.