Defining white Finnish privilege #18: Labeling others according to your prejudices

by , under Enrique Tessieri

White Finnish privilege gives the right to label others according to the group’s prejudices. The terrible gang rape on Monday and the reaction of the media and police, reveal that white Finnish privilege and labeling minorities to suit one’s prejudices are alive and kicking in this country. 

The police call those who aren’t white Finns “people with immigrant backgrounds.” Schools, policy makers, government officials, politicians and a long list of others use that term to mean that person isn’t a white Finn, or “us.”

Another term that doesn’t fuel respect is “mamu,” especially when it is used by white Finns to talk about immigrants.


The problem with this label is that it relegates people to being near-permanent outsiders and thus not worthy of being treated equally because they have “immigrant backgrounds.”

Whenever labeling other groups, one should ask if it fuels or undermines social equality. Person with immigrant background certainly doesn’t. It has the opposite effect.

Using such a term to label others who don’t look like you or come from different cultural, religious or ethnic backgrounds in a bigoted country like ours is clear. Why is it used? Because it is aimed for the majority to see you as a second- or third-class citizen.

Who gave white Finns the right to label migrants and New Finns as people that have “immigrant backgrounds?”

Nobody. They made up the label and can use it thanks to white Finnish privilege.

Definition #18

Having white Finnish privilege permits you to label others in order to place them in the social pecking order that suits white Finns, institutions and power.

How long does a person who is labeled as someone “with immigrant background” must stay in this country to be respected as a Finn on his or her own terms? We could ask the Romany minority, which have lived in this country for over 500 years.

It’s high time that we raise our voices and challenge toxic labels that only serve to fuel society’s prejudices at our expense.

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