New dissertation about migrants sheds light on our ignorance and prejudices

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Two news stories published this week highlight in my opinion why intolerance continues to dominate debate in these parts. The latest story published by YLE was about a dissertation by Annukka Muurin, which showed that multicultural, or third-culture Finns, speak Finnish better than their parents’ language. 

Isn’t this a pretty obvious finding if the child grew up and goes to school in Finland?

Näyttökuva 2014-9-19 kello 12.36.12
Read full story (in Finnish) here.


Another important story was published on Wednesday by THL, which confirmed that first-generation “immigrants” at schools experience more bullying, physical threats and sexual harassment than white Finns.

In spring, Pekka Myrskylä, wrote that around 60% of migrants live in poverty in Finland.

The valuable work done by Muurin raises a lot of other important questions about how we accept cultural diversity and about third-culture Finns. What does her dissertation say about how our schools, which are supposed to be an example to the world, treat pupils from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds?

What does it say about how schools prepare non-white Finns to become active and equal citizens of our society?

What does mother tongue mean anyway? What about if your father were a single parent and you’d learn his so-called native language?  Would that be called “father tongue?”

Considering that we live in an ever-diverse world where people grow up in culturally and linguistically diverse places, is it correct to simply define language in simplistic “mother-tongue” terms? Moreover, what impact does the majority culture labeling you with a certain “mother tongue” have on your identity and place in society?

Language is, unfortunately, treated as something like “race” or ethnicity that there is something “pure” about it (sic!).

Another question that Muurin, the THL survey and Myrkylä bring to light is the following question: Why do most of these myths and prejudices exist if they aren’t true?

The answer to that question is pretty clear: Politicians, political parties, policy makers, institutions and white privilege have a lot going for them under the present system. Ignorance and prejudice are the armies that keep them in power.

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