Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Even if the late King Jr. was gunned down in 1968, that quote is still valid today. In Finland it would read in the following manner: “Social equality is never voluntarily given by the majority; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
We have discussed on many Migrant Tales blog entries about racism and social exclusion. If we look at this social ill in Finland, it could be placed in two periods: pre- and post-April 2011.
Before last year’s historic parliamentary election, when an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party won 39 seats, it’s clear that racism and xenophobia are influential political forces that not only give you votes, but power.
No modern political party in this country has ever tapped the undercurrent of Finnish racism as successfully as the Perussuomalaiset (PS). Even if the popularity of the PS has weaned from 2011, its anti-immigration candidates did well in the October municipal elections.
Racism has found a good home in Finland to spread roots and survive. The same social ill that is impoverishing our country today by scaring away skilled immigrants and foreign investment, has been around since we became an independent nation in 1917.
Back then, our racism and xenophobia were mainly fueled by the former Soviet Union and Russia.
Racism flourishes in these parts because it is profitable and because too many want to keep it that way.
Racism destroys lives in Finland by robbing opportunities. If you aren’t resourceful to challenge this social ill as an immigrant or visible minority, it will keep you in limbo indefinitely.
One reason why large political parties in Finland have been so slow to react to the menace of the PS is that they too are white. Many house the same reactive attitudes about “otherness” as the PS.
Some parties are now waking up to the PS threat. It’s not because they are anti-racist, but because they see that party as a threat to their political base.
Since we understand a little how racism operates and grows in these parts, the most important step we should take is to trust ourselves. We are the only ones who will spearhead our inclusion and acceptance issues in this society.
Here are some things you can do now to start changing things:
- Learn as much as you can about the society you live in
- Learn how social exclusion and racism thrive in such a society
- Standing up for your rights will help your discover your new identity in your new homeland
- Start up a blog or join one like Migrant Tales
- Get politically active and speak out
- Be outspoken, brave and have empathy
- Demonstrate if needed
- Go on hunger strike if needed
- Start a petition if needed
- Lead by example (we cannot change the world but we can influence those around us)
- Be patient and persistent