Why isn’t there any street in Finland named after Rosa Emilia Clay (1875-1959)?

by , under Enrique Tessieri and Muhammed Shire

Here’s a straightforward question: Why isn’t there in Finland any street named after Rosa Emilia Clay, the first African naturalized Finn in 1899? There is no street in Tampere that carries her name, where she resided shortly after migrating to the United States in 1904, and in Mustinlahti, where she was an elementary school teacher in 1898. 

Shouldn’t we strive to get a street in Finland named after Rosa Emilia Clay?


Rosa Emilia Clay. 


Read the original story here.

Read the full story (in Finnish) here.




  1. intternetnetsi

    No she wasnt, i can be sure there was people from africa before her. Of course racists like you want to highlight her.
    Woman who visited finland and you want street named after her, racist much.

  2. intternetnetsi

    bigotry of low expectations
    She didnt do anything extra, only skin colour.
    So you want to give people merits because of colour? Racist much?

  3. Joonas

    So, what kind of significant impact to the society Emilia made during her lifetime, besides being an African woman and having Finnish citizenship? Usually this kind of honor is given to person who actually made the difference to the country’s history (war veteran, writer, artist, president etc.), not because of their ethnicity or color of the skin. Are there any other countries in the world that would give a street name for being the first person from ethnic group X? Should we name our street for the first Italian, first Chinese, first red head and so on too?

    • Joonas

      That’s the problem: you think she should be honored based on her ethnicity, not because of her set of skills and contribution to the society. She might have been a great- or bad teacher, but neither of us knows that really. Only we know she did her job in Finland and then moved to USA – thing that millions of Finns have done.

      I asked in my previous message, but I ask again: do you think we should honor every “first” citizen from the ethnic group X by naming the streets or building a monument for them? I don’t think that would pass even in USA.

    • Migrant Tales

      All of the people in Finland’s white history have been honored because (1) they are white and (2) because they belong to a national group. So, what’s wrong with recognizing an exemplary person like Rosa Emilia Clay, who became a teacher and suffered because of her ethnic background? She is not only the first African to get Finnish citizen but the first one to become a teacher.

      For people who are not white in Finland, Rosa Emilia Clay is an important figure. And don’t exaggerate: I didn’t say that we should honor every “first” citizen due to ethnic background.

      The issue goes deeper. It’s all about whitewashing, power and white privilege. You do not and cannot hold such a monopoly on our identity and who we are.

    • Joonas

      Do you really believe Mannerheim, Jean Sibelius, Aleksis Kivi and many others are celebrated, “because (1) they are white and (2) because they belong to a national group.”? That sounds ridiculous. It wasn’t their contribution as the leaders or artist – it was because they were white? How I have been so blind.

      “So, what’s wrong with recognizing an exemplary person like Rosa Emilia Clay, who became a teacher and suffered because of her ethnic background?”

      Because she didn’t do anything special or make the change to Finland’s history. She wasn’t a great artist, didn’t build a huge business (like, Fazer), she wasn’t a freedom fighter or human right activist. If she didn’t have dark skin, nobody would be writing about her. Only thing she archived by herself was getting the teacher’s job.

  4. Migrant Tales

    Intternetnetsi writes: “Of course racists like you want to highlight her.”
    In the first place, I’m not a racist because I don’t have power and privilege like you. Secondly, what does your handle imply? “Intternetnetsi = Internet Nazi?”

    • juhis88

      internetnetsi writes: “https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Prejudice_plus_power You are racist and i have less power than you.”

      It’s practically impossible to be racist towards whites.

      Migrant Tales writes: “I believe that it was significant that Rosa Emilia Clay came to this country as an African and became the first black teacher of Finland.”

      She didn’t came here, she was brought here by two white rich people and put visible as a exhibit. But after all she were able to rise from that position and be a teacher in all-white country. That is why i think she would be justified to have a street named after her and even a statue or some other monument.