How the Finnish media Others racialized pupils

by , under Enrique Tessieri

One of the casualties of the war in Ukraine will be social rights and the recognition of racialized people in Finland. Are we witnessing more aggressive reporting as a result?

Helsingin Sanomat published Wednesday a whole spread about how “over half of the students at several schools in Espoo don’t speak Finnish as their mother tongue.”

And it leads the story claiming that a researcher warns that what is happening in Espoo is a part of a “worrisome” European trend.

Sounds pretty sensationalist, right?

To top it off, Yle published a survey a day earlier showing that a majority of Russian speakers in Finland have a negative view of the country’s membership in Nato.

The Yle story labels Russians in such a toxic way that it feeds the Russophobia beast that resides inside many Finns.


The story can only be accessed through a paywall.

The Helsingin Sanomat, like the Yle survey, have a common message: Don’t trust “foreigners.” They are a problem.

Another question that the Helsingin Sanomat article raises is the far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS).* We have heard for a long time how the Islamophobic party has spread ethnonationalist views and the great replacement theory.

The great replacement theory is a false racist belief that white Finns are being replaced by asylum seekers, immigrants, and interracial marriages. It is one of PS’ chairperson Riikka Purra’s favorite topics.

Considering how the PS has used racism to lure voters, we should not be surprised if they will use this particular theme to reach voters in next April’s parliamentary election.

The article also shows how rapidly white Finns like to wash their hands of a social problem they have exacerbated with their racism. A few years ago, there were headlines in the media about how some teachers would want to place limits on the amount of racialized pupils.

The latter should not surprise us since teachers are after the police, the most conservative professional group in Finland.

As we know, public servants cannot choose whom they will serve.

In light of the article, there are scores of other problems that racialized pupils face at schools. Instead of blaming elementary school pupils for their background, we should ask how our “world-class” education system and social policy have failed.

Placing the blame on racialized people for “not integrating” is a form of denial like admitting such a social ill.

Finnish schools can be violent places for racialized children where bullying happens too often. The picture below is of a ten-year-old girl who attends an elementary school in Espoo.

Picture of the alleged unconscious child posted on Instagram. The brother of the girl wrote the following post on Instagram: “What do they teach [children] at Finnish homes? That Muslims are terrorists? The little girl [in the picture above] is spending a normal day at school when four boys [classmates] tried to rip off her hijab from her head and kicked her unconscious. We are not talking now about a migrant but about a victim. @iltalehti [tabloid] I want you to write out loud that racism must stop once for all, this girl is an angel!.” Source: Migrant Tales.