Racism is a silent ogre

by , under All categories, Enrique

I have been an exchange student living in Finland from Belgium since February. One of the matters that caught my eye in Mikkeli is racism. I have met many immigrants and foreign students who have told me about their experiences. 

Racism isn’t inherited but learned. This means that people can change. In some of us prejudice is such a problem that it bursts out as a destructive force. There are too many sad examples in Mikkeli of how this silent ogre has harassed its victims.

A young man asks a bus to stop but the driver ignores him. A woman who is sitting inside the bus speaks out and the driver responds: “I don’t take black people on my bus.”  

Another incident involves two foreign students who live in an apartment flat. A gang of alleged skinheads attacked their home in March and started knocking at their door at around midnight in a hostile fashion.  Since the two did not open the door, the attackers broke the kitchen window with a wooden club.

The police were called and they are still investigating the matter.

Why does this happen? The answer remains a mystery.

Racist violence takes place in Mikkeli and Finland too often. Society should not even tolerate one such act.

Fortunately, there are strong laws against this type of violence. The Finnish Constitution grants all people the following right: “Everyone is equal before the law. No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.”

There is hope despite these crimes in Mikkeli. People can change and given the right information matters can improve. Meeting people from other cultures could be an important first step in this direction.

Meanwhile, society should not tolerate but  take action and openly condemn this type of violence.

Uschi Neefs

  1. OnTheRoadToSuccess

    “I don’t take black people on my bus?”

    WOW. While it is true that racism is learnt, it is also true that racism is a subset of narrow-mindedness. I [always] suggest racists (in this case, the bus driver and so-called skinheads) travel and interract with a variety of people and cultures – because as Mark Twain said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”

    • Enrique

      Hi Zuzeeko, I love Mark Twain’s quotes. It does seem incredible that this type of racism is still going on in a country like Finland these days. The first time I heard of bus drivers not stopping for blacks was in the early 1990s, when they established a refugee center in Mikkeli. I am as surprised as you.

  2. Tiwaz

    -“A young man asks a bus to stop but the driver ignores him. A woman who is sitting inside the bus speaks out and the driver responds: “I don’t take black people on my bus.” ”

    Let’s be clear on this…

    Was this man inside the bus or outside?
    If he was outside, how the hell you know what took place INSIDE the bus?

    If this took place inside the bus, perhaps this guy should have used brain he has been granted and notice big, red buttons visible all over the bus. For example in railings located in highly visible yellow bulb, and…

    PRESS ONE!

    Press it and bus stops at next stop on it’s line. It’s like magic!

  3. Tiwaz

    And no, bus does NOT stop anywhere except on the designated stops. I do not care if in your native land it is differently, here bus stops at stops and nowhere else.

    It appears again issue is not racism but foreigners not bothering to learn practices used in Finland.

    If black man pushes the stop button, it sends stop signal just as efficiently as if pressed by yellow, white or purpose person.

  4. xyz

    If this took place inside the bus, perhaps this guy should have used brain he has been granted and notice big, red buttons visible all over the bus. For example in railings located in highly visible yellow bulb, and…
    -Well your reading skills are not much better: “I don’t take black people on my bus.” So where do you think was the guy? Inside or outside? 🙂

  5. Tiwaz

    -“Well your reading skills are not much better: “I don’t take black people on my bus.” So where do you think was the guy? Inside or outside?”

    Maybe you should read:

    “A young man asks a bus to stop but the driver ignores him.”

    This does not tell us anything how or where this person is and how they are asking the bus to stop.

    -“A woman who is sitting inside the bus speaks out and the driver responds: “I don’t take black people on my bus.””

    And this discussion they were able to observe because?

    It is possible there was racist driver. But where is proof that any of this took place?
    Who was there to witness this? Friend of a fried?

    This sounds like just another urban legend fostered out of racism towards Finns to justify for you foreigners your racist attitudes.

  6. xyz

    Ok, again for Tiwaz:

    “A young man asks a bus to stop but the driver ignores him.”
    -In Finland you have to wave with your hand if you want to get into the bus.

    PLUS

    ”A woman who is sitting inside the bus speaks out and the driver responds: “I don’t take black people on my bus.””

    RESULT: The guy is not in the bus. If the guy would be in the bus, why should the driver response that he does not want to take him into the bus?

    Clear now for you Tiwaz?

  7. Tiwaz

    -“RESULT: The guy is not in the bus. If the guy would be in the bus, why should the driver response that he does not want to take him into the bus?

    Clear now for you Tiwaz?”

    No. Young man asks.
    Waves, works. Flags? works. Asks?

    I couldn’t “ask” bus to stop if I was not in the bus.

    Second, we still have nothing more than bare bones of the story.

    No location of black guy. Perhaps he thinks that waving like maniac and screaming should make bus stop between stops. His failure.

    Not to mention we have no information on WHO was witness of this situation.

    We just have “some black guy”, “some woman” and “some busdriver”.

    This is the double standards you guys appear to love. This story has all the credibility of all traditional urban legends like how baby falls off the window and goalkeeper, oblivious to even above, out of reflex catches baby as it falls.

    Except this time it is urban myth propagated for purpose of hatemongering.

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