Is Helsingin Sanomat disingenuous when it calls basketball star Awak Kuier a Finn?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Some Finns will go an exceptionally long way to protect their white nationality and exceptionalism. They even voted in 2011 39 MPs from 5 MPs previously for a party, the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, to ensure that Finland remains white.

Everyone knows that such an aim by the PS, to keep Finland white, is a political pipedream.

Apart from the Islamophobia and dangerous ethnic replacement theories pushed by the PS leadership, like Jussi Halla-aho, Riikka Purra, and Simo Grönroos, the country’s biggest daily Helsingin Sanomat broke with the toxicity.

Basketball star Awak Kuier, who the PS labels insultingly people like her as “harmful” immigration, was called in a Helsingin Sanomat editorial “a Finn,” and not, deceptively, a person of foreign origin or foreign background.

Kuier made Finnish basketball history this week when she became the first Finn to be selected to play in the WNBA when she was in the draft to play for the Dallas Wings.

This is a vast improvement from the days when Helsingin Sanomat decided not to use the shortened and racist form of immigrant, or mamu, in its headlines. It was only

When a non-white Finn succeeds internationally, does the person’s label change in the media’s eyes from a person of foreign origin to Finn? Is this what we’d call hypocrisy?


Read the full editorial (in Finnish) here.

One story published in 2019 on former US President Donald Trump’s racist tweets involved four minority congresswomen: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar. Helsingin Sanomat referred to the four congresswomen as “people of migrant origin.”

Labeling people of color in the United States as the media and politicians do in Finland prompted the daily to change the headline.


Now you see the term “people of migrant origin” on the right and on the left, it is gone. Source: Helsingin Sanomat.

Let’s get one matter straight. A person’s identity is his or her personal matter. The person, not others, defines who he or she is.

Due to the racism that some native Finns of color have faced and experienced throughout their lives in this country, they don’t like to identify as Finn. One such person told me that she was a global citizen.

Complicating debate further on the topic is white Finnish privilege, which dominates the debate. All the identity labeling going on in Finland is mostly done by white people.

Hopefully, Kuier’s and other positive examples start to drive home the fact that Finland was, is, and never will be just white.

Do you want to speed the process of social equality in Finland?

Stop using racist and excluding terms to refer to people who have the right to enjoy this country as theirs.

CORRECTION: We incorrectly spelled Kuiter’s name as Kuerin. This has been corrected.

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