Migrant Tales (April 14, 2015): My identity is mine, not yours, so stop labeling me according to your prejudices

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Don’t let anyone, no one, ever define who you are. That’s your right and never give it away.

Why do some public services like the police even some migrants believe they have the right to define who are? The police do it constantly. Every time they label a person or group as a person with “foreign” or “migrant” background they are effectively relegating that person publicly to second- or third-class status in society. 

Like in neighboring Sweden, where “a person with migrant background” is code for non-European or non-white, in Finland, it is used to remind you that white Finns run this country politically, culturally, economically and socially.

What’s even worse is the usage of the term mamu, which is used by anti-immigration politicians near-constantly in this country whenever they speak disrespectfully of migrants.

A recent example of how the term was used was by Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Maria Tolppanen, who said she wants to see less mamus and more people at Vaasa’s city square.

Some claim that Tolppanen’s usage of the term mamu was code for Somalis.

The term mamu is in the same league as the n-word or if you call a member of the Romany minority mustalainen. These three labels can be used by members of those groups but it is inappropriate for white Finns to use them since it would be disrespectful and offensive.

Since the police cannot call non-whites as mamus they use more sophisticated terms such as person with “foreign” or “migrant” background. When the police classify people as “them” they reveal, like many other Finnish public services, how much in the dark and in denial they are about our ever-growing cultural diversity that is a fact today.

It doesn’t take too much gray matter to figure out that when a public institution labels you as “them” what they are effectively doing is emphasizing that you don’t have the same privileges as them.

Some migrants do the same thing as well simply since they haven’t dealt with their own racism even if they live in a foreign country. Some white USAmericans and Europeans who move to Finland continue to see people in the same racist way as in their former homelands.

I will share with such bigoted people, like the institutions that use labels such as people with “foreign” or “migrant” background to separate “us” from “them,” a piece of wisdom about my right to my identity:

You are who you think you are. You have no right to intrude and label me according to your prejudices. Treat me the same way you’d treat yourself.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” 

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