Shirlene Green Newball (Part 1/3): A list of some black female writers you should read

by

Shirlene Green Newball*

You sure have heard of famous activists like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Coretta Scott King, and Angela Davis to mention are just a few black women who participated in the civil rights movement in the United States of America.

Black women have played a pivotal and heroic role in the struggle of civil rights and the rising of black movements by being activists and writers.

Black female writer’s involvement in literature dates back to the 1950s. Once they were aware of their powers and the liberation of themselves, they used them to depict and expand black literature as an alliance for the fight.

Margaret Walker, Ntozake Shange, Gayl Jones, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, June Jordan, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Mari Evans, and others were part of the writers that built black literature in the USA to tackle topics such as gender, race, sexuality, violence, patriarchal, misogynist, immigration, and others.  

It may be endless to compile in a single list all the distinguished black female writers because they are so many. However, after reading some of these writers listed below, I decided to extend my research for new ones and ask my friends for their recommendable black female writers.

How much literature written by black female writers have you read? 

This list below contains 20 badass black women writers from different generations, countries, and continents who have influenced me because; there are women of the same race, have similar experiences like mine, and evoke emotions. I hope you can read one or more because they are all worthy of your time; choose your favorites, do your research, and share this list with others.

Ayòbámi Adébáyò (1988) was born in Lagos, Nigeria (Africa), but shortly her family moved to the state of Osun, located in the southwest.

In 2017, the Canongate Books published her novel Stay with Me that immediately was listed by Wellcome Book Prize, Baileys Women Prize for Fiction, and the 9mobile Prize for Literature.

Many of Adébáyó’s writings have been printed in magazines and anthologies.

The New York Times once wrote about her,  “She writes not just with extraordinary grace but with genuine wisdom about love and loss and the possibility of redemption.”

This young writer studied with Margaret Atwood and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977), who is one of the most known black female writers globally.

She was born and grew up in the east of Nigeria, Africa, from an Igbo family with six children. She studied in the United States of America where she said:  “My roommate had a single story of Africa, a single story of catastrophe and there was no possibility of being similar to her in any way.”

Her work has been translated nearly into thirty languages. She is the author of The Thing Around Your Neck, Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, and We should all be Feminist. She also had publications in big journals such as The New Yorker, Financial Times, Granta, etc. She had received distinguished awards such as Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, National Book Critics Circle, Women Prize for Fiction, and others.

A year earlier, Zadie Smith (1975), also won the prestigious literary Women Prize for Fiction (the same Adichie won). Sadie Smith, her given name, is a contemporary novelist, essayist, and story writer born in the northwest of London from a Jamaican mother and an English father. She has four siblings.

Smith’s first novel was published in 1997; titled White Teeth followed by The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW, and Swing Time. She also has a collection of essays Changing My Mind.

She received the Whitbread First Novel and Guardian First Book Award among many others. She has been twice listed for the Granta 20 Best Young British Novelists and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Smith’s novel NW was produced into a BBC television film. Likewise, two of Nigamerican writer Nnedi Okorafor (1974), works also have been adapted into short films.

She calls herself a Nigamerican (Nigerian-United States of America) writer because she is a descendant from Igbo parents that migrated to the USA and could not return because of the Nigerian Civil War.

Okorafor was diagnosed with scoliosis at teenage witch demanded intense therapy for her recovery. However, after she regained the ability to walk she was unable to continue with her passion for sport, so she took a creative writing class and published her first novel.

In her collection of novels and stories, she reflects West African heritage and her life in the USA. Some of her books and comics are Binti, Who fears Death, Zahrah the Windseeker, Awata Witch, Lagoon, She Shadow Speaker, Amphibious Green, Kabu Kabu, Hello Moto, Black Panther: Long live the King, Shuri, and others. 

She has obtained remarkable awards such as The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, Africana Book Award, Carl Brandon Parallax, Andre Norton, Golden Duck, World Fantasy, among others.

Alike writer Audre Lorde’s (1934-1992), parents also were immigrants from the West Indies to New York, the USA where they procreated three daughters, she being the third.

Her career was fervent in voicing out sexism, racism, homophobia, gender, and classism as an instrument for action and change. While still being in high school, her first poem was printed in Seventeen Magazine.

Lorde is the author of The First Cities, Cables to Rage, From a Land Where Other People Live, Coal, The Black Unicorn, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, The Cancer Journals, A Burst of Light, etc.

She also wrote periodicals for Amazon Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, Red War, The Black Woman, The Village Voice, The Iowa Review, and a lot of others.

Among awards and honors she earned the National Book Award for Poetry, National Endowment for the Arts Residency Grant, Woman of the Year Award, New York State’s Poet Laureate from 1991 to 1993, and Broadside Press Poet’s Award, etc. 

Lorde was a lesbian openly known same as Roxane Gay (1974), who is bisexual, a unique writer, commemorator, professor, and editor who was born in Omaha, Nebraska (USA), from Haitian ancestries.

Her career began at age 12, as a consequence of the sexual harassment she experienced. Gay is the author of novels and essays An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, World of Wakanda, Difficult Woman, Ayiti, Hunger, and Not that Bad. 

Her works have won awards such as Pen Centre USA Freedom to Write, Eisner, Lambda Literary, and others.

Gay’s writings appear in The Guardian, Best American Mystery Stories, Best Sex Writing, Tin House, The New York Times, and others.

In partnership with Medium platform, she created Gay Magazine and recently she started the production of a black feminist podcast labeled Hear to Slay.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014), is a renowned poet, storyteller, auto-biographer, playwright, journalist, and actress born in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), also shared a passion for radio journalism. She was a strong activist who contributed to the civil right movement and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

She published volumes of poetries, essays, and plays, as well as many children, cook, and picture books.

Her work includes seven extraordinary autobiographies: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, Gather Together in my Name, The Heart of a Woman, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, and Mom and Me and Mom.

Moreover, on January 20th, 1993, at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton, she recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” this recitation is the second time at a similar event that something of this kind was done. (Robert Frost recited “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration).

Several of her writings received merited awards and honors from over seventy universities like the University of Arkansas, Ohio State University, Atlanta University, and others.

*Shirlene Green Newball is an Afro-Nicaraguan journalist and feminist who lives in Finland.

Bibliography

Angelou, M. (2007) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. London. Virago Press.

Adiche, C.  (2017) Half of a Yellow Sun. London. 4th Estate..

‘Afeto fértil, fértil poema: a líria de Jenyffer Nascimento’. Literafro, 10th July 2007. Available at: http://www.letras.ufmg.br/literafro/resenhas/poesia/1059-afeto-fertil-fertil-poema-a-lirica-de-jenyffer-nascimento

Corriols M. & Rossman Y. (2014) 1st. edn. Hermanas de tinta: Muestra de poesía multiétnica de mujeres nicaragüenses. Managua.

‘Courageous Zimbabwean writer whose books addressed the taboos of her society’, The Guardian, 27th April 2005. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/apr/27/guardianobituaries.books

Chambers Website. Available at:http://www.veronicachambers.com

Evans, M. (1984) Black Women Writers ( 1950-1980). The United States of America.

Gay’s Website. Available at: https://roxanegay.tumblr.com

Habila, H. (2011). African Short Story. 1st. edn. Granta Publications. London.

Hurston, Z. (1998) Their Eyes were Watching God. HapperCollins Publishers. New York.

Henry, P.  ‘Great Expectations: An Interview with Ayobami Adebayo’, El Paris Review 8 August 2017. Available at: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/08/08/great-expectations-interview-ayobami-adebayo/

Morrison, T. (1993) The Bluest Eye. Plume. United States of America.

Nndi’s Website. Available at: http://nnedi.com

Olaya, J.M. (2015) ‘Lucía Charún-Illescas, la primera novelista afroperuana’, Personajes afrodescendientes del Perú y América. Available at: https://afroliteratura.lamula.pe/2017/01/19/lucia-charun-illescas-la-primera-novelista-afroperuana/afroliteratura.lamula.pe/

Smith, Z.  (2017) Swing Time. Penguin Books. United Kingdom.

Shirlene Green Newball (Part 2/3): A list of some black female writers you should read

by

Shirlene Green Newball*

In 2011, former President Barack Obama gave Maya Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A year later, it was presented to Toni Morrison (1931-2019), an icon of the black literature in the United States of America. She was born in Lorain, Ohio, being the second of four children from a middle African American working-class family.

Her novels include The Blue eyes, Sula, Song of Salomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, A Mercy, God Help the Child and The Source of Self-Regard. She also wrote articles for the Times Magazine, Black World, and Confrontation.

She was recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, National Book Critics Award, and Pen/Saul Bellow Award, etc.

In her books, she captures the vivid life of African history in the USA and their cultural heritage. This topic unites Toni and Lucía Charún–Illescas (1950), a writer, journalist, translator, and activist born in Lima, Peru (South America), from an Afro-descent family being the oldest of seven siblings. Her passion for literature started at an early age by reading some of the famous writers. 

Her novel Malambo plays an important role in the Peruvian literature since it is the first fiction book written by an Afro-Peruvian woman and translated to English and Italian.  She also is the author of the book Latinoamericano en Hamburgo. Besides these books, Charún also has written articles and stories printed in several magazines.

She won the Lyra Prize for Short Stories. In 2013 the government of Peru awarded her with the Meritorious Personality of Culture Distinction.

For years, she has resided in Hamburg, Germany, about this she has said: “Soy y seré siempre limeña y no quiero que los lectores me crean una negra europeizada o agringada, que vive fuera de Perú hace cuchucientos años”.

In 2009, she participated in the seminary for Black Afro-descent Women and Latin-American Culture in Montevideo, Uruguay, along with Shirley Campbell Barr (1965), who is a renowned poet and activist from Costa Rica, Central America. She comes from a family of five daughters and two sons.

Her poems are compiled in Rotundamente Negra (Utterly Unequivocally Black), which, has been incorporated in the Costa Rican curricular education system. Her second book is Naciendo (Being Born). Her work has been printed in different magazines from several countries and translated into French, English, and Portuguese

Another notorious Central American writer is June Beer Thompson (1935-1986), poet, painter, and activist born in Bluefields, Nicaragua. She grew up in a middle-class family of ancestral mixture roots (indigenous, afro, and other) being the youngest of eleven children.

The pride of her black identity, the culture of the indigenous groups and the Afro ethics, who are the minority population in Nicaragua; being female, and the love for her country, were revealed in her writings and paintings. The same figures from her painting were the ones that came to life in her poems.

Her poems, Love Poem, Walk in de Moonlite, Chunku faam, Resarrection a’ de Wud, and others were published in Wani, Sunrise magazine, and Hermanas de Tinta: Muestra de poesía multiétnica de mujeres nicaragüenses. Her poems were written in Creole, English, and Spanish.

Beer is an icon for the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua because she is the first black woman poet. Four of her paintings were declared a national patrimony.

From Nicaragua, the waves of the Caribbean Sea takes us to Nassau, Bahamas home of Marion Bethel (1953), a poet, essayist, attorney, human right activist, and filmmaker.

She is well known for her anthologies of poems Guahanani, My Love and Bougainvillea Ringplay. Furthermore, her work has also been published in The Massachusetts Review, The Caribbean Writer, and Junction.

In 2012, her documentary Womanish Ways: Freedom, Human Right, and Democracy 1934-1962, received the Award in Documentary at the Urban Suburban International Film Festival in Philadelphia.

She has received the James Michener Fellowship in the Department of English at the University of Miami, and CARICOM award for her contribution to gender and justice.

Marion also won the Casa de Las Americas Prize for her poetry. It is the same one that was achieved by Ana Maria Gonçalves (1970), a Brazilian writer, English professor, and publicist born in Ibiá, Minas Gerais.

In 2002, she decided to write full time which resulted with the publication of her first book Ao lado e à margem do que sentes por mim (Beside and at the Edge of What you Feel for Me). In 2006, her second book Um defeito de cor (A Colour Defect) was printed.

She was included in the newspaper O Globo list for the best Brazilian books from the previous decade.

A lot of her work has been encompassing in anthologies printed in Italy and Portugal. Gonçalves also was residence writer at several universities including Stanford University, the same college where Veronica Chambers (1970), had a John S. Knight Journalism fellow. She is awriter and editor born in Panama and raised in Brooklyn, NY.

She is the author of Mama’s Girls, Having it All: Black Women and Success, Kickboxing Geishas: How Modern Japanese Women are changing their Nation, The Go-Between, Quinceanera Means Sweet Fifteen, and other.

She also has edited essays, Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own and Queen Bey: A Celebration of the Power and Creativity of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.  

She is co-writer of Yes, Chef with Marcus Samuelsson that earned the James Beard Award; and 32 Yorks with Eric Ripert which, is one of The New York Times bestseller.

*Shirlene Green Newball is an Afro-Nicaraguan journalist and feminist who lives in Finland.

Bibliography

Angelou, M. (2007) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. London. Virago Press.

Adiche, C.  (2017) Half of a Yellow Sun. London. 4th Estate..

‘Afeto fértil, fértil poema: a líria de Jenyffer Nascimento’. Literafro, 10th July 2007. Available at: http://www.letras.ufmg.br/literafro/resenhas/poesia/1059-afeto-fertil-fertil-poema-a-lirica-de-jenyffer-nascimento

Corriols M. & Rossman Y. (2014) 1st. edn. Hermanas de tinta: Muestra de poesía multiétnica de mujeres nicaragüenses. Managua.

‘Courageous Zimbabwean writer whose books addressed the taboos of her society’, The Guardian, 27th April 2005. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/apr/27/guardianobituaries.books

Chambers Website. Available at:http://www.veronicachambers.com

Evans, M. (1984) Black Women Writers ( 1950-1980). The United States of America.

Gay’s Website. Available at: https://roxanegay.tumblr.com

Habila, H. (2011). African Short Story. 1st. edn. Granta Publications. London.

Hurston, Z. (1998) Their Eyes were Watching God. HapperCollins Publishers. New York.

Henry, P.  ‘Great Expectations: An Interview with Ayobami Adebayo’, El Paris Review 8 August 2017. Available at: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/08/08/great-expectations-interview-ayobami-adebayo/

Morrison, T. (1993) The Bluest Eye. Plume. United States of America.

Nndi’s Website. Available at: http://nnedi.com

Olaya, J.M. (2015) ‘Lucía Charún-Illescas, la primera novelista afroperuana’, Personajes afrodescendientes del Perú y América. Available at: https://afroliteratura.lamula.pe/2017/01/19/lucia-charun-illescas-la-primera-novelista-afroperuana/afroliteratura.lamula.pe/

Smith, Z.  (2017) Swing Time. Penguin Books. United Kingdom.

Shirlene Green Newball (Part 3/3): A list of some black female writers you should read

by

Shirlene Green Newball*

A lot our writers are great editors of books, newspapers, and essays. Veronica Chambers, our previous author, was an editor at Newsweek, Glamour, and The New Times Magazine, been the first black woman with that title. Yvonne Vera (1964-2005), also edited several anthologies by African women writers.

She was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (Africa), studied and imparted English Literature at Njube High School. Years after, she immigrated to Canada, where she completed her higher studies and worked.

While she was studying her first collection of short stories Why Don´t you Carve other Animals (1992) was published in Toronto Magazine. A year later her novel Nehanda, was printed followed by Without a Name, Under the Tongue, Butterfly Burning, and The Stone Virgins. Her writing discloses topics of colonialism, sexism, racism, war, oppression, and others.

Many of her works were shortlisted and won awards like Commonwealth Prize for Africa, Germany Literary Prize, Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa, the Swedish Pen Tucholsky Prize, and others.

Vera was the director at the National Gallery, a similar position that Victoria Santa Cruz (1922-2014), had at the National Folklore School in Peru.

This Afro-Peruvian poet, choreographer, composer, and activist had 10 siblings who were taught the Afro-Peruvian culture by her parents who were a painter, dancer, writer, and playwright. Along with her younger brother, they cofounded Cumanana the first black theatre.

At an early age, children rejected Victoria in her neighborhood because of her color skin; they shouted at her: “Black, Black.” This gave her the courage, braveness, and creativity to write her emblematic poem Me gritaron Negra (They called me Black) was dramatized.

She received awards and honors from the Peruvian and French governments. Her works had been exhibited in museum and festivals in several countries. Her peak moment was in 1968 when her group Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú performed at the Olympics in Mexico City. Her art pieces are collected on CD or web platforms.

Santa Cruz used lyrics and music as instruments to declare her poems. Likewise, Elcina Valencia Córdoba (1963), used these same techniques years later in her works.

A writer and musician from Buenaventura, Colombia (South America), she learned her artistic interest from her mother who was a musician. At the age of 17, she wrote her first poem for one of her high school teachers.

During her career, she participated in several local, national, and international events. In 1991, the Roldanillo Rayo Museo organized an event to present her poetry. It made a huge impression on the directors of the museum, so they decided to publish her first book entitled Todos somos culpaples (We Are all Guilty).

Other literary works attributed to her are Rutas de autonomía y caminos de identidad, Susurros de palmeras, Analogías y anhelos, Pentagrama de pasión.

She had received the Almanegra equivalent to Almamadre given to the most prestigious writers, National Prize of Erotic Poetry a recognition plaque; and recently she was listed between the most outstanding women of Valle de Cauca.

Córdoba is part of the committee of Buenaventura to preserve the folklore from the South Pacific same role Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), played for the USA folklore collection.

She was inborn in Eatonville, Florida (USA), she was the fifth of eight children from a marriage of a carpenter-preacher and a schoolteacher. She attended school at a late age (13); however, she achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology.

She was a great novelist, playwright, and researcher. From 1921 to 1935 she published in magazines several stories and essays, for example, John Redding Goes to Sea, Spunk, Muttsy, The Fire and the Cloud, The Great Day, etc.

In 1934, she published her first novel John’s Gourd Vine, which was acknowledged by the critics. Following were Mules and Men, Their Eyes were Watching God, her masterpiece, Tell My Horse, Moses, Man on the Mountain, Dusk Tracks on the Road and Seraph on the Suwanee.

Hurston won several literary and alumni awards during her career. In 1956, she received an award for Education and Human Relations at Bethune-Cookman College.

During her career, Hurston traveled to several countries to compile the history of the black communities. Angela Nzambi (1971), born in Lia, a district in Bata, Equatorial Guinea (Africa), also collected oral history of her community to be used in her books. 

This writer, feminist, and human activist who reside in Valencia, Spain, actively campaigned for the black community and migrants.

Nzambi literature work includes Nguisi, based on an oral tradition from her village and stories of her personal life. Biyaare (Stars) describes different characters that had shown like stars. Her third book Mayimbo (Wanderings) won the International Justo Bolekia Boleká Prize for African Literature.

She also participated in the production of a collective literature Navidad dulce, Navidad (Nativity, Sweet Nativity) and 23 Relatos sin Fronteras (23 Stories without Borders).

A lot of the authors listed before are considered feminists, so is the case of our last recognized author who is an energetic writer and art producer from Brazil. Jenyffer Nascimento’s (1993), born in Paulista, Pernambuco; desire to write started at an early age, but it wasn’t until she completed her teenage that she got to express her anger, anguish, and hopes true her rap lyrics.

Nascimento describes in her poems social issues, relation with the land or city, black pride, love, black woman experiences, among other topics.

Her book Terra Fértil (Fertile Land) is a collection of poems that demonstrates the experiences of black women from the outskirt of São Paulo. Her works have also been published in Pretextos de Mulheres Negras (Pretext of Black Women), which, compiles the work of 22 contemporary black writers. 

*Shirlene Green Newball is an Afro-Nicaraguan journalist and feminist who lives in Finland.

Bibliography

Angelou, M. (2007) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. London. Virago Press.

Adiche, C.  (2017) Half of a Yellow Sun. London. 4th Estate..

‘Afeto fértil, fértil poema: a líria de Jenyffer Nascimento’. Literafro, 10th July 2007. Available at: http://www.letras.ufmg.br/literafro/resenhas/poesia/1059-afeto-fertil-fertil-poema-a-lirica-de-jenyffer-nascimento

Corriols M. & Rossman Y. (2014) 1st. edn. Hermanas de tinta: Muestra de poesía multiétnica de mujeres nicaragüenses. Managua.

‘Courageous Zimbabwean writer whose books addressed the taboos of her society’, The Guardian, 27th April 2005. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/apr/27/guardianobituaries.books

Chambers Website. Available at:http://www.veronicachambers.com

Evans, M. (1984) Black Women Writers ( 1950-1980). The United States of America.

Gay’s Website. Available at: https://roxanegay.tumblr.com

Habila, H. (2011). African Short Story. 1st. edn. Granta Publications. London.

Hurston, Z. (1998) Their Eyes were Watching God. Happer Collins Publishers. New York.

Henry, P.  ‘Great Expectations: An Interview with Ayobami Adebayo’, El Paris Review 8 August 2017. Available at: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/08/08/great-expectations-interview-ayobami-adebayo/

Morrison, T. (1993) The Bluest Eye. Plume. United States of America.

Nndi’s Website. Available at: http://nnedi.com

Olaya, J.M. (2015) ‘Lucía Charún-Illescas, la primera novelista afroperuana’, Personajes afrodescendientes del Perú y América. Available at: https://afroliteratura.lamula.pe/2017/01/19/lucia-charun-illescas-la-primera-novelista-afroperuana/afroliteratura.lamula.pe/

Smith, Z.  (2017) Swing Time. Penguin Books. United Kingdom.

Daniel Malpica: Tottelemattomuus. On the Finnish Immigration Policy

by

Daniel Malpica*

A couple of months ago, as part of the Writers for Peace Committee, the Finnish PEN was commissioned to write a resolution regarding migration on behalf of The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International. That resolution – written in a collaboration between Veera Tyhtilä, Shashank Mane and I – was focused on the problematic suffered by migrants and asylum seekers worldwide in relation to their condition as outsiders in foreign lands. The document made a diagnosis on the neediness for legal aid and locally contextualized the current situation in Finland.

I remembered this document while trying to articulate my nightmare with the Finnish Immigration Office for this article. Something important about the resolution was focused on conceiving the problem as an ethical priority that should be highlighted and tackled for the sake of human dignity and structural change. The final version of the resolution will be presented at the 85th PEN International Congress in Manila, being a document with strong personal significance due to the fact that it resonates with values that symbolically represents me as a Mexican-born professional making a living in Finland.

Read the full story here.

To give a little of context about me, I might say that I am an author and graphic designer residing in Helsinki since late 2013, and also a board member of the Finnish PEN. My work and experience as a writer, multimedia artist and activist on cultural advocacy is relatively known by the community on the field in Finland and Mexico. My literary and artistic practice has been supported by local institutions like the Arts Promotion Center Finland and Kone Foundation, opening spaces for Finnish-born and non Finnish-born professionals in Finland and abroad. I am also an entrepreneur running my own firm (toiminimi) with clients from the cultural, academic and hospitality industries; I have been translator, publisher, producer, curator; and so on and so forth.

On August 2018 I received a negative decision from the Finnish Immigration Office (Migri). The story involved an appointment letter to visit them at the terminal 2 of the Airport, a phone call with an interpreter in Spanish and a negative decision with the request to leave the country back to Mexico. I originally applied with my own firm for an entrepreneurs residence permit and during that time I received a full time working grant by Kone Foundation. I informed Migri about the grant – and its demand for a full commitment – and, instead of suggesting that perhaps it was not the suitable application for my current status, it was easier for them to deny me the residence.

So I got an attorney, we appealed, I applied for a new residence permit under the base of professional artist; before summer this year they asked for my sources of income (which were the grant and my company). Summer passed by, Kone Foundation’s grant came to an end last July, then they asked yet again for my sources of income but this time – ironically – with a suggestion to apply for the entrepreneurs residence permit if my income were mainly generated from my company. So they basically suggested me to go for the same residence permit that was rejected already a year before, including the extra expenses that applying again might bring.

I asked for two more weeks to do the suggested application but then the appealing decision came from the higher judge saying that I never informed about the grant, that I do not have ties with Finland, that I have another residence permit application on process and therefore they do not see a reason why I should not be deported.

According to a Migration Review made by the ministry, several legislative amendments were introduced in the previous government term to make it easier for entrepreneurs and experts to move to Finland in order to promote economic growth and employment, but It does not seem to be the case for professional artistic or cultural based workers financed by an institution in the form of a grant. Yet again, in parallel, it still remains unclear why the work made within a firm is not consider professional artistic work under the eyes of the Migration Office, in direct contradiction with the criterias given by the Ministry of Education and Culture where a grant from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland can be awarded throughout a company. So independently if the grant passes through my firm (Manuke. Lit, Media Art & Design), or not, the point is that the work within it should be considered professional artistic practice according to their criterias in other branches of the government.

One way or the other, the inconsistencies and opacity that Migri has regarding the evaluation processes, with no clear contact person to whom consult with about your own case, ends up making the process very unfortunate and giving a general feeling of estructural harassment, considering also that there are no clear mechanisms that explain what they really look for when they process a residence permit application. This is a delicate issue due to the fact that many people suffer this kind of situation in similar or worse proportion to my case. Spending money in applications, judges and attorneys; and sometimes even with no voices of their own representation to speak their stories, like in the case of asylum seekers for instance. All these elements together seem to depict a clear structural resistance, even when the Government Integration Programme for 2016–2019 and Government Resolution on a Government Integration Programme published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in 2016 already acknowledged the relevance and urgency of a humane integration policy.

Last May, Support Structures Collective organized a peer group for art and cultural workers dealing with Migri. The peer group, coordinated by artist Martina Miño, took place at the facilities of Globe Art Point (Gap) in Helsinki and it was intended to compile the stories suffered by the field, identify common grounds of needs, and deal with possible solutions collectively. I attended the group both as Gap’s representative and as a professional struggling with the Migration Office myself. Martina told me that there were some attempts to contact Migri asking for them to provide one of their specialists or evaluators who could join the group, it seems to be that after some e-mail exchanges they just stop answering.

statistical review made by The Finnish National Contact Point of the European Migration Network (EMN) in 2018, which compiles statistics from the Finnish Immigration Service, Police and Finnish Border Guard as well as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), shows that around 60% of the decisions on first residence permits for the category of ‘self-employment’ between 2017-2018 were negative from a total of 293 applications. Furthermore, the review mentions that before applying for the residence permit under the grounds of self-employment / entrepreneur, the applicant needs to get an assessment of the business model from Business Finland, but none of that information is specified in Migri’s official website. Yritys Espoo offers free of charge business advice for everyone, by the way.

For the Residence Permit Application for Work in the field of Culture or Arts, the information is not included into the statistical review, leaving a big question mark on the transparency of a process where I clearly covered all their criteria, despite its discriminatory statement on what is not a professional artist (“You may for example be a circus performer or a performing artist, but not a restaurant musician”).

While writing this article, I am facing a deportation process. But this time I have to request an appeal to the Supreme Court. A request.

True poets happen suddenly: they are born
and unborn in four lines
– Gonzalo Rojas

*Daniel Malpica is a Mexican-born author, graphic designer and board member of Finnish PEN.

See also:

Read the original posting here.

This posting was published with permission.

The real MP Jani Mäeklä and how the PS also waters the poisonous fruit of anti-Semitism in Finland

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THIS STORY WAS UPDATED

A tweet, which alleges Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Jani Mäkelä, stating that “without SS troops, Finlan would have lost the Continuation War (1941-44), is from a fake account. If this is true, we apologize for the mix-up.

I wrote a comment to PS MP Mäkelä below after he asked me to “Stop spreading fake news and remove this post and related web article, before I need to take further action!”



Do you believe that PS MP Mäkelä will answer my question?

I’m not holding my breath.

What Mäkelä thinks about the SS and its role in the Continuation War (1941-44) would be of interest, considering that the PS is a far-right radical right party that has links with neo-Nazi and fascist groups like Suomen Sisu.

One of PS MP Mäkelä’s campaign platform was, like all of the candidates who got elected, anti-immigration. The tweet below and his reaction to it show what he thinks about Muslims and cultural diversity in Finland.

If it were for him, minorities like Muslims would be at the total mercy of the PS’ hostile Islamophobia.

Mäkelä did not like at all Police Chief Inspector Jari Taponen’s tweet: “Even in Islandic politics hate speech has become more common. The rhetoric follows the same European formula, where the targets of this rhetoric are arriving East European migrants and Muslims. Politicians insist on their hate speech banning Sharia Law, banning mosques and banning the Burka, among others.”

Irrespective of the fake tweet, we all know that the PS is an Islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic, and far-right radical right party. We should not be surprised that their anti-immigration populist rhetoric has fueled the hostile environment most likely fueled hate speech against Finland’s small Jewish community.

Migrant Tales reported in 2017 how the Jewish community of Helsinki felt threatened by rising hate speech.

“I will not say that it is only the extreme right that is directing this [online] hate speech against the Jewish community,” said Yaron Nadbornik, the president of the Jewish Community of Helsinki. ”Let’s just say that they are people from different ideologies that write online thousands of hate comments against Jews.”

All those who defend the SS role in Finland are blind to the atrocities committed and such group’s complicity in the extermination of the Jews.

We have heard of the SS death squads, the Einsatzgruppen, who are responsible for murdering three million Jews.

If there is a good example of why anti-Semitism has flourished in Finland like other forms of racism, it is Mäkelä’s tweet above.

See also:

The City of Ylivieska in Finland awards anti-Semite with distinction (September 24, 2014)

The Jews of Finland (August 27, 2013)

The far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. In the last parliamentary election, Blue Reform has wiped off the Finnish political map when they saw their numbers in parliament plummet from 18 MPs to none. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.

European Network Against Racism Shadow Report on Racist Crime and Institutional Racism in Europe

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Brussels, 12 September 2019 – Institutional racism prevails in criminal justice systems across the EU and impacts how racist crimes are (not) recorded, investigated and prosecuted, according to a new report published by ENAR today.

“Twenty years after the Macpherson Report revealed that the British police was institutionally racist, we now find that criminal justice systems across the European Union fail to protect victims of racist crimes – this despite the increase in violent racially motivated crimes”, said Karen Taylor, Chair of the European Network Against Racism.

ENAR’s report, covering 24 EU Member States, provides data on racist crimes between 2014 and 2018, and documents institutional practice during the recording, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes with a racial bias. It reveals how subtle forms of racism persistently appear in the criminal justice system from the moment a victim reports a racially motivated crime to the police, through to investigation and prosecution. This leads to a ‘justice gap’: a significant number of hate crime cases end up being dropped as a hate crime.

Read the full report here.

Data over the period 2014-2018 suggest that racially motivated crimes are on the rise in many EU Member States. In addition, major events such as terrorist acts – and the political rhetoric and responses to these attacks – can cause spikes in the numbers of recorded racist crimes.

The shadow reported one case of Finland on page 39.

Most EU Member States have hate crime laws, as well as policies and guidance in place to respond to racist crime, but they are not enforced because of a context of deeply rooted institutional racism within law enforcement authorities.

The mishandling of racially motivated crimes by the authorities, and in particular the police, starts with the recording of racist crimes. Evidence suggests that the police do not take reports of racist crime seriously or they do not believe victims of such crimes. This practice appears to be especially true if certain groups, such as Roma and black people, report these crimes. Racial stereotyping is pervasive in policing at all levels.

In addition, the lack of institutional response and negative experiences of victims with the police mean that civil society organisations have to fill in the gap to ensure racially motivated crimes are properly recorded.

The racial bias can ‘disappear’ in the course of the police recording and investigating the crime. The police find it more straightforward to investigate crimes, such as violation of public order or crimes against property, than uncovering the evidence of the bias motivation.

There are also several factors that hinder the successful prosecution and sentencing of a hate crime with a racial bias, including lack of clear definitions of hate crimes with a racial bias; lack of training and limited capacity; and under-use of the aggravated ‘hate’ clause.

“We need a significant change within the criminal justice system, if racial justice is to prevail for victims of racist crime in Europe. Governments and institutions can better respond to hate crimes if they commit to review the practice, policies and procedures that disadvantage certain groups,” said Karen Taylor. “People’s safety is at stake and justice must be served – for all members of society.”

For further information, contact:

Georgina Siklossy, Senior Communication and Press Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 – Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531 – Email: georgina@enar-eu.org – Web: www.enar-eu.org

Notes to the editor:

1. ENAR’s 2014-18 Shadow Report on racist crime and institutional racism is based on data and information from 24 EU Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
2. The report and key findings are available here: https://www.enar-eu.org/Shadow-Reports-on-racism-in-Europe. The report also includes case studies and testimonies highlighting the experiences of victims of racially motivated crime, the lack of protection and failure of measures for justice for these victims.
3. The Macpherson Report, ordered by the British government and published in 1999, is the report of a public inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager, and the ensuing police investigation. It concluded that the Metropolitan Police was “institutionally racist” and made 70 recommendations for reform, covering both policing and criminal law.
4. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR aisbl) stands against racism and discrimination and advocates equality and solidarity for all in Europe. We connect local and national anti-racist NGOs throughout Europe and voice the concerns of ethnic and religious minorities in European and national policy debates.

Selected case studies:

Lenient sentence for murderer of Nigerian refugee (Italy)
The main perpetrator of the racially motivated murder of a Nigerian man, affiliated with a far-right group, was arrested on charges of manslaughter, aggravated by racist motives. However, his lawyer, together with part of the local and national media, pleaded legitimate defence. The man later received a reduced sentence of four years in house arrest.

Police fails victim of racist and homophobic attack (Netherlands)
“I have to be on watch 24/7 just because of who I am, it drains me. I’m just not important”.
Omair was harassed on grounds of his origin and sexual orientation on a bus in Utrecht. The police officer did not want to document witnesses’ statements or check the bus camera images. Four months later, Omair received a statement by the police that the case could not be pursued due to lack of evidence. Omair requested a meeting at his police office to discuss the statement with a member of the Pink in Blue Network, a network of LGBTQI police officers. The officer acknowledged the case should have been investigated as a hate crime and that the incident was wrongly recorded.

Police mistreatment of Roma people (Slovakia)
More than 60 police officers physically attacked 30 Roma people, including women and children, during a police raid. The police entered the houses without permission and caused material damage. Several complaints were submitted to the police inspection for investigation. The police inspection found that the police had acted in accordance with the law. The inspection was based only on investigating information from police officers. No other witness was included in the inspection. One victim filed a criminal complaint, but this was dismissed as unfounded.