A brave boy that reminds us in Finland to not take our eye off the racist ball

by , under Enrique Tessieri

After Valtteri Saarinen went on Finnish national television Monday and said that racist harassment at school was something “normal” even President Sauli Niinstö was shocked. Valtteri said that he’s been named the “n-word,” and called “feces” and “a feces-colored” person for such a long time that he doesn’t react to such racism any longer. 

President Niinistö, who has given mixed statements about racism and asylum seekers in Finland, tweeted:

This type of injustice shouldn’t happen in Finland.

Sometimes you’re shocked first thing in the morning. That’s what happened today when an 11-year-old boy told about his experiences on television. He’s discriminated and called names because of his skin color. Even bus drivers don’t pick him up. This type of injustice cannot happen in Finland. Valtteri gave a brave example to the [European] Week Against Racism.

Even if it’s a good matter that President Nninstö speaks out against racism in Finnish society, I am, however, a bit surprised that he’s surprised by what happened.

Racism in Finland is played down and some of the culprits for this are politicians and the media.

Finland does need to do much more to challenge racism and hate speech.

Näyttökuva 2016-3-22 kello 7.07.03


Näyttökuva 2016-3-22 kello 7.03.04
See full video clip here. One of the surprising matters about what the boy said was the TV commentator, who didn’t call Valtteri Saarinen a Finn but stated that “migrants and adopted children” face racism. Finns face racism too!

Brussels-based NGO European Network Against Racism Shadow Report on Afrophobia offered some effective recommendations on this front. The full report will be published today at noon Finnish time.

Some of the recommendations include greater promotion of cultural diversity at schools and representation of ethnic minorities in institutions like the non-discrimination Ombudsman’s office and the public service.

Stay tuned! We will publish the full report at noon today.