Finland’s culturally diverse community must point out and scorn our Uncle Toms

by , under Muhammed Shire and Enrique Tessieri

What does it say about our society when second-generation children of migrants join far-right groups that spew racism? We have a few of them in Finland like Gleb Simanov and the even more notorious types like Junes Lokka, Marco de Wit, and Miki Sileoni. 

Of the above four names, Sileoni is the least known. He’s an active far-right Suomi ensi member and was a candidate in the municipal elections of April.

I know Sileoni’s Argentinean father and was quite surprised that his son is so spiteful of cultural diversity. His Argentinean grandparents or great grandparents were migrants that came from Europe to Argentina.

Simanov didn’t turn to his boss to address the problem of people not paying their bus fares but turned to the most extremist and racist publications in Finland. Here he’s interviewed by Junes Lokka, a Moroccan-born Finn who hates Muslims, and his girlfriend.

In the United States, minorities such as blacks protect themselves from people like Lokka, de Wit, Simanov, Sileoni and others by labeling them, Uncle Toms.

The term Uncle Tom came originally from a book published in 1852 by Harriet Beecher Stowe called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which was a black man who helped people escape slavery. Later on, the term Uncle Tom became derogatory to describe someone who betrays their group by taking part, willingly or unwillingly, in its oppression.


Even if the term isn’t still used very much in Finland, the Finnish-language equivalent would be Tuomo-setä or setä Tuomo.  At Migrant Tales, we have called Uncle Toms mamus or mamusetäs.  Mamu is the shortened nickname some Finns use to call maahanmuuttajat, or immigrants.

Even if some white Finns use the term mamu, it is considered by some as demeaning. Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, stopped using the term mamu in its headlines and stories a while back.

Apart from all of its conotations, the term or label, Uncle Tom, is one way that a minority defends itself against members of the same group that betray their ethnic group.

Mamu-setä in Finland is also defined as a person, who knowingly or unknowingly, scorns people of his ethnic group believing that he or she will gain more privileges and social recognition.

Migrant Tales published in 2014 the following characteristics of a mamu-setä:

  • Excessive subservience to white Finns;
  • Some mamus claim to be migrants but are in fact Finns since they have lived most of their lives here;
  • He or she is a mouthpiece of the arguments used by some white Finns to maintain migrants and visible minorities as second- and third-class citizens;
  • Plays down and denies, like some white Finns, racism;
  • Underestimates the destructive power of racism;
  • Never or rarely speaks of systemic racism (accepts status quo);
  • Claims to be against racism but has the same opinions as the worst racists in Finland about minorities in his or her own country;
  • Believes that kindness and understanding are the most effective ways of challenging a social ill like racism.

The sacked bus driver, Simanov, fits all of the above traits just like de Wit, Lokka and Sileoni do. Others that come to mind are Fija Saarni, Perussuomalaiset (PS)* far-right MP Olli Immonen’s wife, Ashraf BanyaminBelle Selene Xia, the disgraced former PS member who got sacked from the party for supporting human rights violations in China, and others.

The fact that a person whose parents or himself was born abroad and becomes a hardcore racist reveals something disturbing: Finland is such a difficult country to fit in for migrants that they don’t blame those who oppress them but those who are oppressed. They believe that by doing so they will be accepted.

Just like the migrant or minority has to work twice as hard to keep his or her job, the person of migrant origin has to be twice as racist in order to compete with other white Finnish racists.

Simanov is a sad case, who will end up forsaken and most likely unemployed for a very long time. The numerous interviews in far-right and anti-immigration trash publications like MV-lehti expose that his plan to videotape Somalis on the bus had nothing to do with bumming a ride but was a red herring, apparently with far-right PT-media managed by Paavo Tajukangas, who publishes in neo-Nazi online publications.

Polina Kopylova published Saturday in Migrant Tales an analysis piece about Simanov’s pro-Putin stance in the Ukraine.

Below is one of two video clips published in Kopylova’s op-ed piece where Simanov denounces the Kiev regime’s fascism and equates it with Nazi Germany.

There is more to Simanov than meets the eye like Islamophobia and that he is a supporter of far-right pro-Putin ideology.



* After the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity.  One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic. 

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS