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.
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.