Racism against People of African Descent in Finland occurs every day at the workplace, school, and public spaces, according to a report by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman. The findings reinforce a study by the European Agency of Fundamental Rights that showed that perceived racist harassment of PAD respondents was the highest in Finland (63%),
The report stated that 67% of the respondents faced discrimination or harassment at school. The corresponding figure for the workplace was 60%. As many as 61% who face racist discrimination don’t report it.
Rainer Hiltunen, the acting Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, said that the findings of the report confirm that racism is deeply rooted in Finnish society.
“Our ways of thinking and our modes of action are, to a large extent, racist even if we do not notice it or are unwilling to admit it,” he said. “Individual racist acts and aggressive behavior are the easiest to identify, but the most dangerous are attitudes and structures which deprive those of African descent of the same opportunities that others have.”
The majority (67%) of the respondents said they had experienced discrimination in education. Racism arises from the actions of other students and teaching staff and other personnel such as guidance counselors and school nurses.
The highest amount of discrimination was experienced by other students when teachers or other staff are present. Racialized guidance takes place in guidance counseling and Finnish as a second language and literature courses.
Michaela Moua, non-discrimination ombudsman senior officer, stated that the treatment of PAD in the education sector has a significant impact on their career paths and social position in society.
“Deviating from the white norm affects how a person is seen and treated in school,” she said. “Racialized guidance which takes place in educational structures needs to be confronted and fixed, as it leads to the differentiation of life paths and social positions.”
High (61%) of respondents stated that they preferred to remain quiet if they were targets of racist discrimination and harassment. PAD respondents believe that reporting such an incident would not lead anywhere.
Moreover, respondents said that they experienced racism by employers, colleagues, and customers in the workplace. Job recruitment is one area where the respondents had experienced discrimination.
A study published in October by Akhlaq Ahmad reinforced how prevalent labor market discrimination is in Finland. The results of the study showed that out of 5,000 job applications, those with Finnish names got way more requests for interviews by the employer.
The report by the non-discrimination ombudsman and other ones should give politicians, policymakers, and people enough fuel not only to tackle but begin dismantling for good structural racism in Finland.