By Enrique Tessieri
This blog entry is dedicated to D4R and Sasu.
No matter how you look at those immigrants and visible minorities in Finland that face prejudice on a daily basis, we hold the key to change. Nobody can change our reality in this country for as long as we don’t take the initiative.
We need lots of people, good people, people with new ideas, people who are examples of our community, people from all walks of life. Since we live in a globalized world, those heroes that will make our country a better place to live for everyone may come from faraway countries.
One of them that changed history with her humble example was the late Rosa Parks, who showed that guts and convictions can go a long, long way.
In segregated Alabama Parks refused to relinquish her seat to a white person on a bus on December 1, 1955. Her arrest led to a community boycott by black people and a landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled segregation was illegal.
Another landmark case similar to Parks’ is the Greensborough 4. These were four young brave black men became national heros at a Woolwoorth’s department store lunch counter.
I have always had deep respect and admiration for people who have had courage to stand up for their rights and fight for social justice despite the overwhelming odds. For me Sacco and Vanzetti were one of these great childhood heroes that showed with their examples the ugly face of the U.S. justice system.
One does not need an army to create social change. All you need is yourself, your example and a firm conviction. Society, like culture, changes constantly.
Some who became examples to others through their struggles were: Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Brown, Väinö Linna’s “Rokka,” Ernesto Che Guevara, Mahatma Gandhi, Nat Turner, Aung San Suu Kyi, Alvaro Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, one of my favorite heroes, to name a few.
Cabeza de Vaca’s life is nothing more than the story about a man who learned to travel between cultures during his long sixteenth-century sojourn in Texas and Southwest United States. Some consider him the first American (I don’t mean USAmerican) because he learned to live among the Amerindians.
Despite the great things these people did it all comes down to the same matter: leading by example.
How do we stand up against prejudice and improve the plight of immigrants, visible minorities and Finns with international backgrounds in this country?
We cannot change the world but with our example we can change what is around us.