Defining white Finnish privilege #6: Not having a voice and the media

by , under Enrique Tessieri

In many respects white privilege, or specifically white Finnish privilege, is a good way to understand some of the challenges that migrants and especially non-white Finns face in this country. Migrant Tales invites readers to share their thoughts on the social ill.

Please send your comments on the topic to [email protected] We’d love to hear from you.

The blog entry by Pekka Myrskylä below refutes one of the biggest claims used by anti-immigration politicians that migrants get more social welfare than Finns. While Myrskylä, a development manager at Statistics Finland, states that the majority of migrants in Finland live in poverty, this news didn’t get much attention in the national media.

He writes:

Generous social welfare benefits to migrants appear to be an urban legend. Since migrants make a quarter less than natives, welfare benefits are smaller since they hinge on earnings-related subsidies.

For a sociologist, or particularly a critical discourse analysts, who study the use of written and spoken texts to uncover the relationship of power, abuse and control in society, it’s clear why there was so little attention given to what Myrskylä wrote.

Näyttökuva 2014-7-5 kello 10.48.33


Read full blog entry (in Finnish) here.


Definition #6

Since the media is – like most politicians – the humble servant of white Finnish privilege, migrants and visible minorities don’t count in the media.

The tiny impact that Myrskylä’s blog entry reinforces the latter affirmation. States critical discourse analyst Teun Van Dijk about why migrants and minorities don’t have a voice in the media:* “It obviously has to do with power and control. When you have power you control what they [migrants and minorities] can do and what they can’t do. You limit their freedom…”

White Finnish privilege, or specifically privilege controlled by white male ethnic Finnish-speaking Finns, will not be relinquished to minorities and women. Why? Because they don’t want to or have to.

One institution that understands this loud and clear is the Finnish media.

*There are some migrants who are in the media like Abdirahim Husu Hussein, Ali Jahangiri, Wali Hashi and others have radio shows and are employed by YLE. This is a good sign and good news but we still have a long way to go for migrants and their children to have a bigger voice in the media. One of the interesting questions to ask is under whose terms they report the news. Is it on theirs or their employers? Can they challenge white Finnish privilege on their shows and articles?

I doubt it. 

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