How institutional racism entrenches at a Finnish school

by , under Enrique Tessieri

How does institutional racism survive unchallenged at a Finnish school? An anonymous source got in touch with Migrant Tales and pointed out how structural or institutional racism survives at a Finnish school.

One of the most crucial factors for its survival aren’t surveys and legal ineffective and false assurances against discrimination and racism but what the principal or leadership of the school thinks about such social ills. Is anti-racism a low priority, and does the school management camouflage its racism usually with its silence?

In Finland, according to the source, it is easy to house racist views and seek cover in the protective structural racism infrastructure. One can even get money from the state for anti-discrimination work by throwing out catchphrases like “this will be good for integration.”

In many cases, the promise that “this will be good for integration” is false and misguided and feeds structural racism. Integration, or adaption, is a two-way process. Even so, this is usually forgotten.

The majority is not required to “integrate” but the newcomer is.


Guiding principles of the EU National Plan Against Racism 2020-2025. One of the many important objectives is to tackle structural racism.

Here are some of the factors that maintain structural racism at a Finnish school:

  • The principal is not interested in eliminating racism.
  • The principal hides his prejudices and bigotry by stressing gender equality.
  • There is no promotion or a sense of urgency to encourage diversity among the staffers. Diversity may mean hiring “white Russians.”
  • Increasing diversity means relinquishing power.
  • Maintaining such power is possible through coercion, speaking in code, and unwritten warnings 24/7.
  • Since maintaining a system where institutional racism is king means that power is ever-present, and there will be dire consequences for anyone who challenges the system.
  • A person’s lack of experience and background in anti-racism work is no obstacle to hiring people to lead state-funded programs, for example, for the employment of migrants.
  • Not even a good knowledge of the Finnish language is needed because the key matter is that the selected person obeys the principal, ensuring that the power and structural racism he or she maintains won’t be challenged.
  • Since there is little to no leadership in tackling institutional racism, other toxic manifestations like bullying and discrimination appear “normal” and unchallenged.
  • Even if gender equality and non-discrimination surveys are supposed to expose such matters among the staff, it is still not enough to forcefully challenge institutional racism at the school because it depends on the principal and school management.
  • We can add other examples to this bullet-point list if you have any other examples.