Can Peru shed light on how to identify and tackle intolerance in Finland?

by , under Enrique

In order to understand how racism works in countries like Finland, it is important to see how it occurs in multi-ethnic countries like Peru. While the documentary below clearly shows the many ugly faces of intolerance in Peru, it gives us some good answers to address the social ill in Finland.

One of the interesting questions that we should be asking as our society becomes ever-culturally diverse is if we will commit the same mistakes that other countries have and are committing today.

Do we believe in Finland that there are superior and inferior ethnic groups? Do we stereotype and generalize about these superior and inferior groups and that their characteristics (intelligence, laziness etc) are linked to ethnicity? Do we believe that these so-called cultural characteristics are passed from one generation to the next infinitely?

If you answered yes to all the three questions, it may be that intolerance is a serious issue in this country. It grows and gathers strength because it is denied and because too many of us don’t show leadership and prefer to remain quiet in the face of this social ill.

Walter Twanama, a social analyst, says in the documentary that factors like ethnic appearance, socioeconomic and educational level as well as origin play a key role in whether you belong or not to the underprivileged classes. Language is another factor that classifies you.

Since ethnic group is associated with power, it’s clear that people want to be part of the group that controls power and wealth. In Peru they have a verb for this, which is blanquear,  or to become white.

The system works in a pretty straightforward fashion: the whiter you are, the higher the socioeconomic level. Those with the least amount of power are Peru’s indigenous groups, which are the most excluded and poorest.

Rolando Arellano, a market researcher, said that even if discrimination occurs in Peru, it is a question of time when those that are today socially excluded will be one day accepted. “It’s not [the] more numerous [this socially excluded group become as it become more accepted], but [becomes] stronger,” he said.

Martín Tanaca, a political scientist, said that laws that severely punish discrimination are crucial. He said that tolls must be given to people to defend themselves from racism and discrimination.

Finally the documentary raises a very important point after it uncovered that racism and discrimination exist in Peru. It poses two important questions:

  • Do you want to live in a country with so much inequality and discrimination or not?
  • Are we going to do something or not to change the situation?

The final two questions are not only key to Peru but vital in any society that wants to tackle a social ill like intolerance.

Thank you William Rivera for the heads-up. 

  1. D4R

    I want to ask Finland one question? why is’t that Finland not not monitoring these people who discriminate us in the job market? after ive watched the video documentray wich shows how three people, one Finn, one Russian and one Somalians are treated in Finland, it’s hard to imagine how we Somalis can ever live in this country. If we’re discriminated in the job market or even renting apartment to us, then why is Finland permitting residency? surely we’re not some animal pets who only needs to live on crumbs. We’re human beings just like the natives. We need job, we ned good life, we need income to support our families just like the natives wan for their lives. Why is’t that our lives are put on obstacles and doors shut on us? arent we human beings who deserve a good life just like the natives? it’s very distressing to apply for a job and know at the same time you will be discriminated and not be given any job. That doesnt encourage us to even apply for a job, so i want to ask Finns what do you want us to do then?

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –I want to ask Finland one question? why is’t that Finland not not monitoring these people who discriminate us in the job market?

      The answer: Because there’s not enough support and interest to really change matters. That’s why we, immigrants, visible and invisible minorities, must do something. It’s up to us if we want to change mattes.

    • Joonas

      –I want to ask Finland one question? why is’t that Finland not not monitoring these people who discriminate us in the job market?

      Another answer: Because it is not easy to prove if the person is discriminated in the job market by his ethnicity / age / gender. Don’t get me wrong; I’m certain there is discrimination in the job market, but it is not always easy to tell when it is used.

      There might be two identical candidates for the job (at least on the paper) – one is native Finn and one is Somali. And they will hire the native Finn. Is this discrimination? Maybe, but maybe not. It is also possible he was not hired, because the other person had better, for example, presentation- or communication skills in the interview.

      But I have no solution for this problem… don’t give up, keep educating yourself and maybe some day the situation is different.

    • Mark

      I read some research a while back that showed employers were often discriminating against immigrants in Finland on the basis of a vague notion of who would ‘fit in better’ with the existing team. While this appears a valid criteria for an employer to use, they did not realise that basing this judgment on ethnicity is actually illegal. It’s not just illegal, but also imposes their own prejudices, albeit often unwitting, on the labour force, assuming their existing workforce could or would not want to adapt/accommodate a foreigner/Muslim/African etc.

      This is a real kick in the teeth for immigrants, especially young immigrants who would already face a competitive labour market, after having struggled and worked hard for an education that is equal to that of native Finns, only to find this additional hoop or obstacle placed in their way.

      But, companies would do well to understand that diversity, both in terms of gender and ethnicity, are great drivers for company success. Indeed, the most successful cities in the world are massively diverse in terms of ethnicity (yes, including Tokyo).