On a recent Migrant Tales blog entry we wrote about racist harassment and bullying at schools. For some parents, the problem is so serious at some schools that the only solution is to move to another city like Helsinki, where there are more visible minorities and immigrants.
Source: The Speak Out project.
Why are we still in the anti-racism farm league if we have to tools, resources and competence to do much better?
The answer may not please everyone: Our prejudices are one factor holding back our full potential to challenge a social ill like racism. This is understandable considering that racism doesn’t affect us directly since we are white.
In many respects, our attitude towards intolerance is like our view of alcohol in our society. Alcohol is bad but we accept and even tolerate the social problems it brings with it.
Why should we be worried about racism and prejudice?
Because these social ills are contradictions that question the very values that our successful society is based on. Why do we want to return to a period when people in Finland were treated with scorn thirty to fifty years ago due to their social class? Those people who are treated in such a way are immigrants and visible minorities.
We must do better in Finland when it comes to challenging intolerance especially at our schools, which should be places where inclusion, acceptance and respect are promoted, not discouraged.
A high school physical education teacher back in Hollywood, California, told us a long time ago that when we compete we must strive for first place. If we aim for second or third place, we’ll most likely come in fourth or fifth, according to him. “Go for first place because most likely you’ll end up in second or third place,” he said.
Our approach to intolerance and racism should be the same: We should not only strive to neutralize it, but nip it in the bud. Let’s go for gold when challenging intolerance.
If we don’t aim for zero tolerance, we permit intolerance to live another day at our schools and in our society.
Let’s launch a campaign with the following slogans at our schools: Say no to racist harassment and bullying.