Defining white Finnish privilege #28: Are you an ethnic Finn? (Part 2)

by , under Enrique Tessieri

In a recent Defining white Finnish privilege post, we asked about how the term ethnic Finn, or kantasuomalainen, is used. While there’s nothing wrong with being an ethnic or white Finn it is a problem if such a term is used to reinforce the exclusive privileges of a group.

When you label yourself ethnic Finn do you exclude migrants and minorities, or so-called people with foreign backgrounds, from being seen and treated as equal members of society?

If there is a problem with the term ethnic Finn, it is how it labels Others. Ethnic Finns can call themselves such a name but Others don’t have such privilege. Being labeled “a person with foreign background” or “immigrant,” even if you were born and raised in this country, indicates a wider more serious problem within our society.

A recent shadow report on Afrophobia by NGO European Network Against Racism (ENAR) cited, at least, four European countries that use a particular classification to label their “foreign” population. The countries mentioned in the shadow report are Finland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands.

It states how such terms are used in Holland (page 17):

The Dutch government makes an official distinction between “autochtonen”, meaning that both parents are born in the Netherlands and “allochtonen” defined as people who have at least one parent born outside of the Netherlands. Furthermore, a distinction is made between “western allochtonen” (European countries excluding Turkey, North America, Oceania, Indonesia and Japan) and “non-western allochtonen” (includes people with at least one parent born in Africa, Latin America, and Asia excluding Indonesia, Japan and Turkey).

If such labels are so important that the government makes an official distinction, why aren’t players on the Dutch national football team classified  as “autochtonen” and “allochtonen?”

Näyttökuva 2016-4-9 kello 12.42.00
Listen whole program (in Finnish) here. The talk show gives us a good idea of how white Finnish privilege is the standard narrative when speaking of minorities.

Definition #28

Certainly one of the important matters that we have to look at when studying terms that otherize people is why such labels are used in the first place. Does the label promote or discourage inclusion and social equality?

If we were serious about creating a society where social and ethnic equality are the norm, one of the first necessary steps we’d have to take is to stop using otherizing terms that promote discrimination.

A good starting point is to ask minorities what they want to be called. But is Finnish society, which is highly racialized and polarized on cultural and ethnic diveristy, ready for such an important step?

It doesn’t matter whether ethnic Finns of white Finnish society is ready or not. We have to change those very structures and language that discriminate and relegate us as second-class citizens in Finland.

Two institutions where there’s a lot of room for improvement on this front are the police service and education system.

As a country, we have the resources to do better and promote inclusion rather than exclusion, which is sadly the norm in Finland today.

See also:

  1. juhis88

    There’s reason why some people are called Finns, new Finns, migrants and ethnic Finns. Take a look at what “ethnic group” means and you understand why there’s no racism when migrants, new Finns etc aren’t called ethnic Finns even if some sjw wanted.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Juhis88, there is a problem when the majority labels the minority to emphasize their power and privilege.

    • juhis88

      Well of course it is a problem if you label population groups in means of downplaying other population group and their feats, but i don’t see it in when you are labeling some people migrants and some other as ethnic Finns. Of course these terms can also be very problematic such as is Finnish-Swedes or Sami people ethnic Finns or not? How about Karelian living in Russian Karelia?

      To me ethnic Finn excludes Finnish-Swedes, Sami People, Karelian people living in Russian Karelia, but not Karelian people in Finland, but someone else might include Finnish-Swedes, Sami People and even probably Karelian people in Russian Karelia.

      Migrants aren’t called migrants because of some white privilege-based racism. They are called migrants because they have moved from one country to another. Even someone belonging to ethnic majority of Finnish population is migrant if he moves to another country. Ethnic Finns as a term just says that you belong to Finnish population group which have same language, same ancestry, same history and live in same area or at least are from same area. Though ethnic Finns is pretty lousy term because of like how i explained problems with it in earlier part of this message and in fact that there’s actually no single ethnic Finnish group but several ones like latest genetic studies have proven.

      And what comes to “new Finns” is that it is SJW invented term which were developed to blur the distinction between immigrants and the ethnic Finns, but it backfired because racists adopted it and it is also very lousy term because if you have Finnish citizenship then you are by law a Finnish person and then there’s no need to label you as “new Finn”.