Exposing racism in Finland: Expectations versus reality of the practical nurse student

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Migrant Tales recently published a story about how racism and discrimination occur at a large Helsinki company that hires practical nurses. One of the biggest challenges to tackle racism and discrimination is to acknowledge it. Denial of such social ills is the best cover that racism and discrimination have to maintain the toxic status quo.

Everyone knows that racism and discrimination are illegal in Finland. The big question is why we allow them to survive and see another day.

As long as such social ills have the upper hand in our society and control power, the more we’ll continue to undermine and throw dirt at our own Nordic values of social justice.

Racism isn’t only discrimination on the basis of ethnic and cultural background but a toxic structure that permits the majority group of society to maintain its power and privilege over Others. It is a costly system because it squanders human resources.

This picture was taken last summer in front of the Little Parliament. An Iraqi asylum seeker called Namir al-Azzawi was on hunger strike protesting forced deportations and the government’s harsh immigration and asylum policies. Not only are asylum seekers raising our voices but our ever-growing culturally diverse community as well.

It is sad that even if we have the resources and knowledge to put racism and discrimination on the defensive we still do too little to confront it. The only explanation I have why these social ills see another day is because they are meant to exist. Why would white Finns want to give up their power and privilege to a minority?

Migrant Tales will highlight in this story a case where a vocational school that trains future practical nurses clearly violates the law by treating applicants who are migrants, or African in this case, and white Finns differently.  We will not name the learning institution or the identity of the person who spoke on condition of anonymity. If discrimination happens at one vocational school in Finland it is highly likely it happens in others.

Despite the fact that the African applicant had a comprehensive school degree from a Finnish school, the person was told that it wasn’t the same if the person were a white Finn.

After the interview to enter the vocational school, the applicant had to do an internship for about three weeks at a local company that hires practical nurses. This requirement was only applicable to applicants of migrant origin.

Is this a clear case of discrimination the question is why does the principle of the vocational school permit this to happen? The principle must be familiar with Section 6 of the Finnish constitution below.

This case is just another example of how of discrimination sees another day in Finland. It may reveal as well that this type of discrimination is so widespread in Finland that nobody fears being caught because nothing will happen to them and because the media doesn’t care.

The expectation in Finland is that we should all strive towards social equality and equal treatment but the reality is quite another.