A new association called Kansavinvälinen Mikkeli (International Mikkeli) was registered on September 23. One of its most important aims is to serve as a forum where Finns and immigrants can openly debate topics that affect each other and create a greater sense of community.
One of the first matters that the association tackled was racist graffiti on the walls of the Kattilansilta School and underpass in Mikkeli. To our surprise, the disturbing messages of both spray paintings had been there for months. The first one, at the school for children with learning disorders, had been noticed by one of the teachers in spring. The second one had been seen for the first time about seven months ago.
This spray painting was first noticed in spring by a teacher at the school for students with learning disorders. The school states on its website the following: We aim to foster the development of young people by meeting their needs and giving them the confidence and competence to lead independent, purposeful and enjoyable lives.
Even though the work of these spray-paintings is that of a deranged person, the most worrying matter is that some of the teachers didn’t think it was an urgent enough issue to address immediately.
Here is a discussion I had with one of the teachers of the Kattilansilta School in September:
“That sign has been there since spring,” he admitted. “They don’t represent my values.”
After a brief silence, the teacher continues: “Why is it that groups such as the (anti-immigration) True Finns and Muutos 2011 are labelled racist whenever they criticize immigrants for getting more social welfare than Finns?”
I asked him how he knew that some immigrants got more social welfare than Finns. He responded the local media as his main source.
This case at the school and my brief discussion with one of the teachers is, in my opinion, a case in point why racism is still acceptable among some circles in Finland. It is done through silent approval or disapproval. The reaction could be compared with what happens in countries where human rights violations are the order of the day. Nobody dares to say anything in the erroneous belief or fear that nothing will ever happen to them.
After a call to the principal of Vanamo Special School, the graffiti was pained over the next day. The principal has his office in Vanamo Special School, which reveals that the teachers of Kattilansilta School never brought the matter to his attention.
The “Niggers Out” (apologies for the racist content of the photograph below) is still on the wall of an underpass after the association had got in touch in early October with the municipality.