Dear Finland, as the heat of summer draws…

by , under All categories, Enrique

Dear Finland,

As the heat of summer draws attention to your ever-changing sub-arctic beauty, you may have wondered why Migrant Tales has become a voice of the immigrant and visible minority community in Finland. We are always humbled by your presence on our blog. In truth, we are nothing more than a new confident image of a culturally and ethnically diverse Finland.     

We are not the enemy because we speak out for more acceptance and respect between different groups living in this country. Your real enemies are those who claim with poker faces the contrary and tell you that prejudice and racism are good weapons to exclude others socially.

This cart resting in the heart of the rural Lakelands region of eastern Finland reads in Spanish: “To the woman of my life.”  For some, that woman could be Finland. 

Finland never belonged to anyone, especially to the racists and white Finnish supremacists, those very people who mock and make fun of your diversity. History proves as well that Finland didn’t even belong to the Swedes, the Russians, or even those that call themselves Finns today.

Our identity is a great awakening, ever-changing,  powerful:

Awaken me from eternal sleep

The shadow of those that hate me 

Carry me from these unacceptant lands

 past the midnight summer sun

where rain is so deadly 

that it punctures through skin.

Turning into a guitar

a daring escape occurred to me:

Thrum! Another thrum!

A great leap forward

falling down as a loud thud.

In scattered bits and pieces of me

I will find the way to blast through those nets

that society maliciously weaves.  

There are many examples of those “malicious nets” standing right under our noses today.  Take for example Eino Jutikkala’s and Kauko Pirinen’s “A History of Finland” published in 1974, which claims we Finns belonged to two “races.” Yes, such a preposterous claim was made in this country only 38 years ago!

Jutikkala and Pirinen state: “The Finns and the Hungarians are not blood relatives not to any appreciable degree, at least – whereas the Finns and the Estonians are quite closely related. Both of the later belong to the so-called East Baltic race, which is relatively short-skulled and of medium height. However, among the Finns, especially among the inhabitants of western Finland there are many representatives of the ‘Nordic’ racial type, which is characterized by a long skull and tall stature.” [1]

Another school textbook published in 1942, adds that a person who belonged to the Nordic race was “tall, slim, blue-eyed, had blond hair and red cheeks.” [2]

Apart from teaching racist myths about ourselves, how can our school textbooks  forget to mention that over 1.2 million Finns emigrated and mixed ethnically and culturally with other people in faraway lands?

In many respects, the tens of thousands of visible minorities in Finland today are like Rachel, the main character of Heidi Durrow’s novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.” Rachel is society’s idea of race, class, and beauty.

Durrow’s father is a black USAmerican and her mother is Danish.


Durrow describes Rachel to be the following person: I think her greatest wish was to be one thing. She wanted to be understood and she wanted to be as complex as she was, and so she goes around trying to do and be one thing, which is a good student. And she becomes a big reader and the world kind of opens up to her in this way. And she thinks that if I am excellent, then definitely I will be understood and this whole race thing won’t matter. 

I think that’s still true today that if you strive for excellence then ultimately, maybe, you can maybe get beyond the shadow of race, maybe you can transcend the ways in which people may limit you because of your background, whether it be your racial background or your educational background or your economic background in many ways.

[1] Eino Jutikkala and Kauko Pirinen: A History of Finland. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1974. p. 7.

[2] J.E. Aro, J.E. Rosberg and L. Arvi P. Poijärvi; Koulun maantieto. Otava, Helsinki 1942. pp. 31-32.