Enrique Tessieri: Why I write about racism

by , under Enrique

I write about racism and social exclusion in Finland because it affects me and those I care about. I should know because I used to live marginalized from this society for decades. 

I didn’t live marginalized because I was maladapted. I was marginalized because I was well-adapted.

Too many didn’t consider me a “real” Finn for a number of reasons. Was it because I wasn’t white enough or was it because the name I carried made me stick out ethnically like a sore thumb?

But what could I have done in 1978, when I moved back permanently to this country? There were so few immigrants never mind people of my ethnic background that you were culturally and ethnically unimportant and out of the loop.

It is a paradox, but the very matters that I loved and admired the most about this country back then were the very things that marginalized and excluded me from this society.

The prototype Finn is a case in point. This social construct of the so-called model Finn that was taught and reinforced in the last century is being challenged as our society becomes more culturally diverse.

Finnish society’s lack of inclusiveness was and still is the main obstacle to equal integration and acceptance.

If you want to find where racism grows its roots in this society, you will find it in the arguments that some white Finns use to exclude you from society. If you want to challenge Finnish racism, the best place to begin is to contest the arguments and actions that reinforce white Finnish exclusiveness.

I write a lot about racism and social exclusion on Migrant Tales.  I write about this topic because Finland is my home and because I want a better future for visible and invisible minorities.  In cultural diversity we will find strength.

I am grateful that I have found such a platform and opportunity to be a part of an ever-growing national debate and social movement that aims to make our society inclusive to all groups.


  1. D4R

    We’re are going to keep fighting against racism, all the sensible Finns and immigrants need to stand up against the evil that’s trying to take power in Finland.

  2. PS voter

    I think that you should more careful in the way you fight against racism, because your work might be counterproductive. For example, always complaining about Finns and without ever seeing anything wrong in immigrants, is not a good way of getting support from Finns. One might argue that it is one form of racism against Finns.

    • Mark

      PS Voter

      We are not complaining about Finns. We oppose racism and provide a platform to present the voices of immigrants. No one I know that writes in favour of this blog has said that there is ‘nothing wrong in immigrants’. The simple fact is that the immigrant population is exactly that, a population, and as such, it’s a mixed bag full of all sorts of human beings achieving a great diversity of success in their professional or personal lives.

      One might argue that it is one form of racism against Finns.

      Discrimination perhaps, but not racism, as Finns are not a race. Nevertheless, the point of this blog is not to oppose Finns. We are Finns or married to Finns or living and working in Finland. In fact, if you read the blog, you will find that we uphold Finland’s consitutional and legislative commitments to living in a tolerant and non-discriminatory society. We just don’t want to see that undermined by a populist party that has jumped into bed with neo-fascists and Islamaphobics.