Zuzeeko’s blog: Finland’s population registry website excludes visible minorities

by , under Enrique

Zuzeeko Tegha Abeng*

Finland is still very much a racially homogeneous country — predominantly made up of white Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking people. The homogeneous nature of the population is reflected in most walks of life in the country where people of African descent or visible minorities are not represented or are relegated to the background. A look at the homepage of the population registry’s website supports this assertion.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-10-14 kello 0.29.12

The website of the Population Register Centre (in Finnish: Väestörekisterikeskus) portrays a complete lack of racial and ethnic diversity in Finland. The last time I checked, photos displayed on the home page (see screenshot) of the website showed diversity in terms on gender, sex and age — which is good. But ethnic or racial diversity was completely out of the picture despite the fact that Finland has visible minorities registered in the population register.

Finland has a total population of over 5 million people and it is estimated that the population will hit 5.5 million in 2015. As a member of Finnish society, I can attest to the fact that the country’s population is racially diverse — although a first look at the website of the population registry suggests otherwise. Even the website of Kela, the social insurance institute, shows a racially homogeneous Finland.

The population of Finland increased by 13,050 persons between January and July 2013 and the main reason for population growth was immigration. According to Statistics Finland’s statistics on population structure, every tenth person aged 25 to 34 living permanently in Finland in 2012 was of foreign origin — approximately 12 per cent of all persons with foreign origin were of African descent and about one-quarter were of Asian origin.

In my view, Finland’s non-whites or so-called people of color have been relegated to the background and are not portrayed as part of the society. Many do not occupy prominent positions in public life as journalists, police officers, lawmakers, ministers or teachers. Visible minorities are not even portrayed as part of the society on national and governmental websites like that of Kela and Väestorekisterikeskus. It might take some time for visible minorities to occupy elevated positions in public life — but I am convinced that simple changes in graphics and photographs on national and governmental websites will go a long way to show visible minorities that they are welcomed and accepted as part of the society.

In this age of information technology websites send resounding messages. The last time I checked, the website of Finland’s population registry sent a disturbing message, in my interpretation, that visible minorities are not part of Finland’s population structure. The population registry’s home page should be updated to include racial and ethnic diversity that is representative of Finland’s population structure.

Read original blog entry here.

*Zuzeeko Tegha Abeng is an associate editor of Migrant Tales. 

 

  1. Klay_immigrant

    This whole article is based on your own twisted prejudice and presumptions that literally everything has to painted with a multicultural brush including even history to mislead those who are ignorant of the truth.

    Based on the number of people shown on the homepage of the Population Register Centre, any non-white person even one would make them over represented by a large percentage. This that what you want? To make Finland look more multi-ethnic than it actually is? In other words to deceive.

    Just out of curiosity if the tables were turned and the country was for instance Kenya, Zimbabwe or South Africa would you complain if there weren’t any white faces?

    It’s pointless demands like these that don’t do immigrants or visible minorities any favours as it’s just tedious and serves no purpose only creating a sense of entitlement and arrogance on behalf of the complainer.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –This whole article is based on your own twisted prejudice and presumptions that literally everything has to painted with a multicultural brush including even history to mislead those who are ignorant of the truth.

      I personally think Zuzeeko makes a good point. Cultural and ethnic diversity exists everywhere and it’s a good matter that it is represented in places like the Population Register Centre.

  2. Klay_immigrant

    If you have a problem not seeing a black face everywhere you go even in Finland which is overwhelmingly white then that says more about you, your insecurity and paranoia than it ever says about Finland.

    • Mark

      Klay – Finland is already diverse in many ways, both in terms of lonstanding ethnic Finns and in terms of recent migration. A ‘population’ can be presented in only one of two ways: it is either homogenous or it is heterogenous, i.e. similar or varied. It is TRUE to say that Finland’s population is mostly homogenous, but diversity does exist within the population, even if it is lower than many other countries. It’s a relative thing, after all.

      But the issue of social inclusiveness goes beyond imagining some magical percentage above which Finland would become a ‘heterogenous’ society. It is a matter of belonging and acceptance. And the reason these things are important is that societies throughout history have been fraught with division, often along ethnic, political or religious lines.

      It is for this reason that the basic forces that drive these divisions must be challenged. Protection and security for society do not happen by themselves. They have to be actively sought as policies of inclusiveness, policies that work to recognise ‘deeper’ values common to fellow citizens, that unite us, above and beyond the diversity of culture or ethnicity. You do not solve the problems of diversity by getting rid of it. That is the fundamental lesson of our political histories.

      So, we must work towards an inclusive society – and so when we create a context for talking about ‘populations’, it is an opportunity to promote inclusiveness and signal that ‘diversity’, that diversity is in itself normal and acceptable. It is not about elevating one group within society as being the only visible FACE of that society simply because that group enjoys a majority.

      Yes, this issue can very quickly get silly. It shouldn’t be interpreted as a policy to always include the black face in every picture. But remember how Microsoft got burned a few years ago because they TOOK OUT an ethnic face from a company photo using photoshop? That’s the problem – it’s often not an accident of percentages that visible minorities don’t appear among the formalised or publicised ‘faces’ of a population, but an active decision to exclude.

      On the basic level, [all] people just want to feel like they have the opportunity to belong even when they don’t share any of a number of superficial cultural characteristics of the majority. An inclusive society starts from the idea that everyone is valuable, life is precious, and the job of ‘society’ is to provide possibilities for humans to flourish, as people, not simply as economic units, or as political pawns, or even as cultural representatives. Many times people want a degree of anonymity in their identity, which racism sadly steals from people.

      When vile messages of cultural exclusion regularly occupy the public space and are even openly promoted by politicians with significant national exposure, as they are in Finland, then it is an even greater obligation of state institutions to express and practice inclusiveness as being the core values of the government and state.

      I’m concerned about you Klay, because you seem to regularly seek ways to reinterpret and distort this message of inclusiveness on MT and present instead an extremely narrow reading of the issues involved. Whether you agree with the ‘inclusive society’ or not, you cannot be allowed to pretend or argue that somehow inclusiveness is not important or that this is the reason we promote the stories we do.

      I dread to think the kinds of intellectual compromises you would have to make to come to those distorted conclusions as above!!

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