By Enrique Tessieri
U.S. Civil Rights Movement champion, Martin Luther King Jr. (1928-68), is still a source of guiding inspiration for many victims of discrimination and oppression throughout the world. Below are five MLK quotes that are relevant to Finland.
The mere idea that some Finns and our institutions reinforce the myth of ethnic purity have caused me to think many times. Such a claim is preposterous since we have always been culturally diverse* like any European group.
The interesting question we should be asking, however, is why some of us continue to cling to such a myth. Is it being challenged today? If so, how?
In order to maintain such a myth that has its roots in racism, we must divide society into ethnic groups and place them on a scale. Very generally speaking, white Finns are, naturally on top of the totem pole, while darker-skinned groups are at the bottom.
In my opinion, the fact that some white Finns still believe they have all the moral right to impose their narrow-minded and racist views on other groups speaks volumes about the present state of our society.
Below are five MLK quotes that may help shed light on who we are and, hopefully, further the cause of greater acceptance and empower Finns as well as immigrants to build a society based on one of our greatest values: social equality.
1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Hating those that oppress you can never be the right strategy to challenge racism in society. Hatred is such a strong emotion that it can easily blind people. It is the illness that has inflicted those that oppress and loathe you.
2. “A right delayed is a right denied.”
This quote speaks for itself. Much of the discrimination that goes on in Finland is fueled as well by apathetic immigrants or so-called Mamu-setäs who are comfortable with “delayed rights.” Immigrants and minorities must fight for their rights. It will never be given to us by the majority without a struggle.
3. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Sites like My Finland is International and others are good examples of groups demanding greater rights and acceptance in Finland. Empower yourself and get active. Be patient and be ready for a long struggle. We cannot change the world but we can influence those around us with our humble example.
4. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”
If there is a motto that should unify all immigrants, minorities and Finns fighting against discrimination, it is the above-mentioned by MLK in his famous 1963, “I have a dream” speech.
5. “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
This quote is dedicated to all those vacillating politicians, the Finnish media and even a part of the general public as well as immigrants that have chosen to remain silent to the menace posed to our society by anti-immigration parties and groups. It is during these difficult times when countries like Finland need leadership – not complacent silence.
*By cultural diversity we mean a society that is made up of different ethnic and religious groups. Some of these minorities include Finns with multicultural backgrounds. Contrary to far-right groups, Migrant Tales defines multiculturalism as cultural diversity. It is NOT an immigration policy that permits non-Europeans from moving to Finland and Europe.