Posts Tagged: Cultural diversity

The Perussuomalaiset could face a counter “jytky” in April

Then Perussuomalaiset (PS)* head Timo Soini celebrated the party’s historic 2011 election victory as a “jytky,” or a loud bang. We may witness in April a counter “jytky.” I live in a small city of about 53,000 people 230km north of Helsinki’s capital. It is a good example of the demographic challenges facing Finland. Occasionally,

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A watershed that may impact April’s parliamentary election

Two hard-hitting editorials by Helsingin Sanomat on the mistreatment of labor migrants could indicate how the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset* will do in the parliamentary election. I make such a claim because I am an optimist. We saw something similar in the US Midterm elections, which showed how voters rebuked Donald Trump and his election deniers. Apart

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Cultural diversity is still a challenge in the Finnish education system

An article in Yle News brings us back again to one of the biggest challenges for multilingual children at Finnish schools: How the Finnish education system treats cultural diversity. Language and cultural interpreter and early childhood educator Nadezda Kärmeniemi admitted that multilingual children are caught between differing attitudes at schools. She is saying that there

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Leadership in promoting social equality and challenging racism will strengthen Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government

I, if anyone, wishes Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin, the best of luck and success. Someone asked me a while back what I thought about former Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s government and if it signalled major improvements and changes in immigration policy and in fighting racism. My answer was short: It all depends on

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Helsingin Sanomat is still a predominantly white newspaper with a white slant on things

Helsingin Sanomat, the country’s biggest daily, celebrated its 130th anniversary on Saturday. Congratulations on your important anniversary but the picture below reinforces what I knew about the daily and Finnish mainstream media in general: It’s too white. Considering that Helsingin Sanomat is the newspaper of Finland’s capital Helsinki, it is surprising that there are no

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Newly appointed ombudswoman for children talks only about the plight of white children

The headline of the newly appointed Ombudswoman for Children, Elina Pekkarinen, says it all: “the new Ombudswoman for Children knows the needs of Finnish children. OK, fair enough. Newspapers decide on the wording of the headline. Even so, there is not one word mentioned how the new ombudswoman will protect the rights and situation of non-white Finnish children. 

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: How anti-diversity and Islamophobic is Finland?

“One of the big denials that one still hears a lot in Finland is its denial of the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, an Islamophobic party that won 39 seats in the parliamentary elections of 2011 from just 5 MPs in previously. There was an ongoing debate after 2011 within the PS on what caused its historic election victory. Then party leader Timo Soini claimed it was anti-EU sentiment while its present leader, Jussi Halla-aho, claimed it was the PS’ Islamophobic stance. 

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Pressiklubi gives simplistic, apologetic view on how the Finnish media is “more balanced” today when writing about non-white Finns

It is surprising to hear how some politicians and journalists continue to have simplistic and apologetic views of racism and bigotry in this country. If YLE’s Päivi Happonen and Atte Kaleva’s words are to be believed on Pressiklubi, the Finnish media has finally woken up and writes more balanced stories about migrants and minorities that live in Finland. 

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The words and silence of politicians have dire consequences in Finland for us

After the stabbing of ten people in Turku on Friday, politicians like President Sauli Niinistö, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Interior Minister Paula Risikko, the national media, which echoes far-right opinions of Jussi Halla-aho, the chairman of the Perussuomalaiset* who was convicted for hate speech, appear to be carried away by their own prejudices and hostility towards asylum seekers, which does impact our culturally diverse community.

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The Finnish Security Intelligence Service’s epic failure in reacting to a terrorist threat in Turku

 In a country like Finland, where the police are demigods, the epic failure of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) in not reacting soon enough to the terrorist attack in Turku stands out like a sore thumb. Supo had received a tip in early 2017 from the police about the suspect Abderrahman Mechkah’s radicalized and extremist views, according to YLE News. 

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Helsingin Sanomat survey on migrants reveals expectations that adaption in Finland is and will be a one-way process

Finland’s largest daily, Helsingin Sanomat, published a survey Friday about the minimum requirements that foreigners should adapt to if living here. Seventy-seven percent fully agreed that white Finns should be able to shake hands with both sexes. The survey showed as well that 52% were against women’s-only swimming hours and that 37% felt that one should bathe naked in the sauna. 

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Nativist nationalist anti-cultural diversity politician Sampo Terho named as Finland’s minister of culture, sport and European affairs

What kind of message does the appointment of Perussuomalaiset (PS)* parliamentary group leader Sampo Terho to minster of culture, sport and European issues send? Does it strengthen our Nordic welfare state values or does it drive a wedge between us? We are naming a person who is hostile to cultural diversity and sees the EU as a threat as minister.

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Helsinki Times: A rebuttal to Ville Tavio

An op-ed piece published by the Helsinki Times on April 11 by Finns Party (PS) MP Ville Taavio is a good example of why migrants, minorities and sensible Finns should react and be concerned about the type of country some politicians want to steer Finland towards becoming.

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[Finland 100 series: What is “Finnish-ness”?] Interview with Enrique: journalist, sociologist, and editor at Migrant Tales

The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme:What is “Finnish-ness”?  led by the Prime Minister’s Office. Today we have the huge privilege of having Enrique Tessieri as our second interviewee. You can read the original interview here. Enrique Tessieri is a journalist and sociologist who writes and researches immigration topics like Finnish

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Naapuriäidit: I am a refugee, but I also have another story

Michelle Kaila   Friba Majeed Friba Majeed was born in Balkh, Afghanistan. She came to Finland in 2014 as a refugee. She is presently doing a work practice at Nicehearts in Vantaa, mainly to practice her Finnish language skills. These are the kinds of details we, as migrants, might often exchange with others upon meeting.

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Ongoing debate on asylum seekers in Finland: Lawmakers who play or are ignorant of our laws and basic human rights

As I watched the A-studio: T debate about the record number of asylum seekers in Finland, I thought about Kadar Gelle, a Somali anti-racism activist who watched Monday’s A-studio debate, where Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Tom Packalén, who has tried to build a political career on anti-immigration rhetoric, debates with Somali Finn Mukhtar Abib about the tightening of immigration policy.

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Susheela Daniel: On being a multicultural Finn

I got to know Susheela Daniel through many of her insightful Facebook postings. She was one of the brave women who protested in front of parliament against the election of Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party MP Maria Lohela as speaker of parliament. One of her latest Facebook posts was on “integrated migrants” raised some good questions about Uncle Toms in the migrant and minority community.

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Helsingin Sanomat article on refugees is an exercise in stereotyping

One matter has always surprised me about Finnish journalists is how they stereotype and allow their own value judgements and prejudices get in the way of facts. A good example is a story by Jukka Harju who not only mistakenly claims that the first refugees came to Finland over 40 years ago but which nationality adapted the best in Finland.

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Why are racists in Finland racists?

It’s clear that racism derives also from low self-esteem apart from being a sinister tool to exclude other groups from gaining access to political, social and economic capital. Ever thought why those who are vocal about their racist views are such an active group? The answer is simple: In order to climb up a few miserable

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What did Makwan Amirkhani forget to say on his video?

Violence is wrong and it’s commendable when people speak out against such anti-social behavior. Makwan Amirkhani, who speaks perfect Finnish on a video, claims that he’s disappointed at non-white Finnish youths that were in a video kicking and hitting a person on the street

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Why do some dark-skinned children in Finland fear the sun?

There are many ways to measure how racism works on a day-by-day level and structurally in our society. Umayya Abu-Hanna wrote a while back how Finland’s middle class makes sure that migrants and minorities can never compete economically, politically and culturally on an equal level with white Finns.

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Eva Biaudet: Finland’s ever-culturally and ethnically diverse society in the new century (Part I)

Swedish People’s Party (SPP) MP Eva Biaudet has made a name for herself defending those that don’t have a voice in society and those who are most vulnerable to discrimination and exploitation. If there is a person that can give a picture of where Finland is or should be heading in this century as our country becomes ever-culturally and ethnically diverse, that person is certainly Biaudet.

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Treating immigrants in Finland as the problem IS the problem

What’s wrong with the ongoing debate in Finland concerning immigration, refugees and cultural diversity? The problem is that they are treated as a problem by politicians, the media and public.*  Instead of treating these three matters as “a problem” we should make an effort to think outside of the current anti-immigration political climate and see them

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Defining white Finnish privilege #21: Who can be a Finn?

A Finn is anyone with Finnish citizenship, right?  Citizenship can be obtained through birth (jus sanguinis) or naturalization. Even if this should be clear as day, certain public services like the police continue to group Finns according to their so-called “foreign” or “immigrant” backgrounds. I don’t have any problems with my foreign background even if

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UPDATE (Mar. 6): Migrant Tales’ 2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism

Migrant Tales’ 2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism will be updated separately. To see other examples of opinionated journalism in Finland about cultural diversity, please go to this link. Mar. 6 Yli puolet nuorista on kokenut syrjintää – ongelmia eniten kouluissa (Helsingin Sanomat) What’s the missing story in this story? Migrant Tales has written before

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Politicians who fuel and support opportunity segregation in Finland

Tanja Hartonen-Pulkka is a Perussuomalaiset (PS)* candidate in April’s parliamentary elections. Last year she was noticed by Migrant Tales for all the wrong reasons. Hartonen-Pulkka lives in Mäntyharju, a small town in Eastern Finland with a population of 6,200 people that has a handful of foreign residents. She claimed in fall that at the present

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The rise and fall of the Perussuomalaiset of Finland

As support for the Perussuomalaiset (PS)[1] wanes with parliamentary elections only a heartbeat away on April 19, we are seeing a very different party  from four years ago. Back then, PS chairman Timo Soini was self-confident and campaigning confidently. He was the darling of the media, the new kid on the block, the underdog, the only

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A young black woman in a small Finnish city

Finns are adamant that there is no racial discrimination in their society. Josephy Wandera Owindi* For some white people it’s difficult to comprehend how a black woman could be treated in a small city like Mikkeli, located 230km northeast of Helsinki. Is she a victim of microaggressions and/or of outright sexism and racism?  The aim of a

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Defining white Finnish privilege #16: Rosa Emilia Clay and my history versus yours

Ever wondered why all of Finland’s history is white? Ever wondered why you probably never heard of Rosa Emilia Clay (1875-1959), Finland’s first black citizen?  According to Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s oldest daily established in 1824, Åbo Underrättelser, ran a story of “a mulatto girl born in Africa and baptized there [in Amboland in northern Namibia].” Then thirteen-year-old

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Fatbardhe Hetemaj: Who will speak up for us if you don’t?

Fatbardhe Hetemaj is a promising National Coalition Party Helsinki city councilwoman who moved to Finland at the age of seven. Since people like Hetemaj are becoming more common in Finland as we become a more culturally and ethnically diverse society, it is important that they speak out against discrimination and promote tolerance and respect for

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Institute of Race Relations: Where monoculturalism leads

Migrant Tales insight: This perception or problem, monoculturalism, is affecting Finland as well. It explains why an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* can raise the number of MPs in four years from 5 in 2007 to 39 in 2011. It explains why there is so little interest to tackle institutional racism and why so

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What kind of a year was 2014 for our ever-growing culturally diverse society?

For Finland’s ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse community, 2014 will be remembered for many good and bad things. At the top of the good things, there’s the Olen suomalainen video but the list of toxic news far outweighs the latter like Tom Packalén’s “racist youth mobs with migrant backgrounds” and Pia Kauma’s “baby carriages.”  Migrant Tales

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Finland: A nation of emigrants

While some heads of state like Barack Obama speak of the United States as a nation of immigrants, Finland has historically been a nation of emigrants. How does being a nation of emigrants differ from being a nation of immigrants? There is a big difference and reveals in part why some Finns are so hostile

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An effective way of putting racism in context in Finland

There are many ways to understand ethnic hatred and racism in Finland. One of these is by substituting the word ‘migrant’ for your ethnic group and/or ‘woman’ in a text that’s aimed at fueling ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Let’s take the recent claims of two politicians, MPs Tom Packalén and Pia Kauma, to see how passions are

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Nura Farah: A blooming flower with a pen that many aimed to destroy

There is an interesting interview of Nura Farah, Finland’s first Somali-born writer, who speaks openly about growing up as a black person in this country from the 1990s, when even middle-school teachers took part in the racist bullying of non-white Finns. Racist bullying and racism are white privilege weapons used by this society to destroy

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Helsingin Sanomat: Non-white taxi drivers face suspicion and outright racism from customers

There’s an interesting article on Helsingin Sanomat today about how non-white Finnish taxi drivers face suspicion and outright racism from potential customers. It’s refreshing to see the country’s biggest daily taking a more serious attitude towards discrimination. It’s a big improvement from the days when it published polls in 2010 about what Finns thought about

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Racism, children and football in Finland

If you want to find a short cut into racism in Finland, read the anonymous comments after a news story on the topic. One such story, published Monday by Turku-based daily Turun Sanomat, is a perfect example. The news story is about a group of 10-11-year-old boys who were returning by ship to the mainland

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Gareth Rice: Finland Warm welcome, then cold shoulder

Gareth Rice I did my PhD in urban geography at the University of Strathclyde and had been lecturing there for more than three years before I accepted my postdoctoral position at the University of Helsinki in December 2007. I had never been to Finland before, but the country, its people and their culture had long

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World Café ponders if Porvoo, Finland, is a multicultural city

Migrant Tales insight:  The World Café concept is an excellent way to empower and encourage people to participate and promote active citizenship. This World Café session, which took place in Porvoo on May 17, and asked participants to give their views on how cultural diversity is faring in the city. One of the important findings

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Integration by perkele

Some have heard of the expression of management by perkele, which means swift decision-making by management and where your opinion as an employee counts little. In Finland the goal is integration, or two-way adaption, but what happens on too many occasions is integration by perkele.  Integration by perkele has a clear message: This is our country, perkele,

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Espoo city council votes against racism

A proposal by the Perussuomalaiset (PS) to rewrite the City of Espoo’s multicultural programme because it stated that city residents “don’t tolerate racism” were voted down 64-10, reports Länsiväylä.  Two PS councilmen, Simon Elo (left) and Teemu Lahtinen,  loathe Muslims and cultural diversity. Read full story (in Finnish) here. If one reads closely the position of the PS, an anti-EU, anti-immigration

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Jussi Halla-aho’s broken record: destroy cultural and ethnic diversity

We hear over and over again the same anti-immigration diatribe by politicians like Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Jussi Halla-aho, who complain constantly about too liberal immigration policy and multiculturalism. PS MP Jussi Halla-aho would like to restrict free movement of people in Europe and tighten migration policy if elected Euro MP, according to Swedish-language daily HBL.

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Muslim woman wasn’t admitted to the Finnish police training school because she would refuse to take off her headscarf

A Muslim woman, 38, was not admitted to the police training school because she would not take off her headscarf during working hours, reports YLE in English. The woman was so disappointed with the rejection that she even contemplated leaving Finland.   Read full story here. “In the [police] interviewer’s opinion it was not possible

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Finland ponders whether to forbid the Summer Hymn at schools

The Finnish suvivirsi, or Summer Hymn, may be forbidden at schools for having religious overtones, according to YLE in English. Such plans, which are under review by the national board of education, have raised stiff opposition from Finland’s most conservative and nationalistic politicians like Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen and anti-immigration Perussuomlaiset (PS) chairman, Timo Soini. Read

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Cultural and ethnic diversity are who we are

When you do everything possible to undermine diversity you end up letting out the genie out of the bottle.         If we look at the political climate in Finland today with the rise of an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) in 2011, it’s clear that the genie

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I, too, am Finland!

During Europe’s action week against racism (March 15-23), wouldn’t it be appropriate to post something that promotes inclusion and respect? One posting drives home a very important and long overdue message in Finland: #itooamfinland. Read full story (in Finnish) here. What’s the biggest challenge that our country faces during this century? It’s living in an ever-culturally diverse

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“Migrants” lag two years behind “ethnic Finns” in Pisa results

Here’s an interesting story on the Finnish News Agency (STT) wires: Migrant students at school lag two years behind so-called ethnic Finns in the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results. Of all the OECD countries, Finland’s Pisa result saw the biggest drop in 2013 from the previous year. Read full story here. Anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS) MPs

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A must-see video about who we Finns are

If there is one matter where Finland’s ever-growing culturally diverse society must still work on, it’s instilling greater acceptance and respect for those who are different from white Finns. For me, this is central in our struggle to live in a country that is acceptant and respects others irrespective of their backgrounds.  After moving over

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Landmark decision in Finland: Sikh bus driver may wear turban at work

The long ordeal over whether Sikh bus driver Gill Sukhdarshan Singh could wear a turban to work has been decided in his favor, reports Helsingin Sanomat. A decision was reached last week between the Finnish Employers’ Federation of Road Transport (ALT) and Transport Workers’ Union AKT over the interpretation of the bus driver’s employment contract. 

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Passage of gay marriage law will benefit all minorities in Finland

The ongoing passionate debate in parliament on same-sex marriage reveals, in my opinion, something we’ve known all along about Finland: How we accept and respect people who are different from us. Alongside the present debate on gay marriage is another one being contested in public about our ever-growing cultural diversity. A draft law to legalize gay

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Finland is a highly racialized country

Racialization, or ethnicization, is a sociological concept that ascribes racial or ethnic identities to a relationship. In simple terms it is the way that a dominant group ascribes an identity on minorities in order to dominate them. In Finland this is so common that our nationality is mentioned on our drivers license even if we’re

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Finland’s distorted immigration debate is damaging our country

My son asked me Friday an interesting question that revealed what is wrong concerning the present debate on immigration and immigrants in Finland. He asked me to show how does immigration fuel economic growth. His question, which is a valid one, reveals some of the perceptions that some have about immigration.  Due to the attention

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You, Migrant Tales and 2014

The Migrant Tales team wants to take the opportunity to thank all of our readers and supporters.  This beautiful drawing was by Luis Blanchard in Argentina. We look forward to another good year in our struggle to promote in Finland a culturally diverse society that is united by mutual acceptance, respect and equal opportunities. Migrant

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Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013

Compared with the previous two years, 2013 will be remembered as business as usual on the intolerance front. A positive sign, however, is the reaction of some of the Finnish media to racism. Even so, the media in this country continues to give some racists inflated respectability and importance by spreading their prejudice.    The reaction

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Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013 will be published on December 28

Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013 will be published Saturday. The review of the year will look at cultural diversity and intolerance in Finland.  Read previous reports from 2012 and 2011. News published by the media this year reveals that 2013 was worse than 2012. Taking into account that an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset must

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Landmark turban case in Finland to go to court in February

Gill Sukhdashan Singh, the Sikh bus driver that has been denied the right to wear a turban at work by his employer, told Migrant Tales that transport workers union AKT will take Veolia bus company to court concerning the matter.  Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, has been following the story closely. Read full story here.

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Fadumo Dayib: Go suck on some oranges

Fadumo Dayib Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself. ― Harvey Fierstein Read full story here. Rant coming your way. Welcome deranged internet fascists. I’ve been expecting you and oh boy aren’t you so predictable. Come out from behind your computer.

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When will we pass to anti-racism phase two in Finland?

Some will agree that Finland is decades behind other countries when it comes to challenging racism. But there is good news: The rise of an anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party in 2011, the Perussuomalaiset (PS), is a sign that we’re moving forward to phase two. Phase one is when most of the efforts of a

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Timo Soini’s silence in the face of PS MP Olli Immonen’s proposal reveals that he has always been the wolf in sheep’s clothing

Timo Soini, the chairman of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party, was quoted as saying on YLE in English that PS MP Olli Immonen’s written question to parliament, that Finland should start classifying people according to ethnic background, doesn’t concern him.  What do you think such a statement by the head of an an anti-immigration party reveals?

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Maryan Abdulkarim: “Finland is a very racist country”

Is there racism in Finland? In order to find the answer to that question, we’d have to ask visible migrants and minorities.  Maryan Abdulkarim, 31, is a Finn who was born in Somalia, had the opportunity on Friday’s Helsingin Sanomat to answer that question. “Finland is a very racist country,” she said. “It always has been.”

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Is silence an effective response to racism?

One of the questions we should ask ourselves is what should our response be to those that are hostile to migrants, visible minorities and our ever-growing cultural diversity. Should silence be the answer?  One of the matters that I have learned through my many years of studying and writing about cultural diversity, is that silence

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Are you a perpetrator or victim of white Finnish privilege?

One matter about intolerance is that it is universal. The social ill can manifest itself in different ways by speaking different languages and historical context but don’t be fooled by these deceptions: Intolerance is the same ogre.  White privilege is one of the many faces of racism and means automatic access or exclusion to the

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A2 Islam debate: “We’re a very tolerant society but…”

Two matters bothered me the most about the A2 Islam debate Tuesday night: how the cards were deliberately stacked against cultural diversity, and how Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Olli Immonen and PS Espoo city councilman Simon Elo did their utmost to spread fear-mongering of Muslims.  You can watch the full debate here until the end of

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About A2’s debate on Islam tonight…

The A2 islam-ilta television debate Tuesday will reveal once again white Finnish ethnocentrism, how poorly we know our laws and, what’s important, how poorly we accept people who are different from us. Is the Finnish media giving once again racists inflated respectability and importance? Will the A2 debate improve or undermine the situation of Muslims in Finland?

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Jussi Halla-aho gets cold feet – another lie exposed

Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Jussi Halla-aho announced that he will not take part in a live A2 televised debate on Islam, reports YLE. The MP, who has been convicted for ethnic agitation, said that the debate doesn’t serve the issue. He would, however, be ready to take part in a debate with fewer people. Read full

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Red Sociology: ASSIMILATION AS ASSASSINATION

MT comment: Even if the blog entry below speaks of assimilation, or one-way integration of blacks in the United States, it’s pretty certain that these types of discussions will pick up in Finland as we become a more culturally diverse society. Who is being assimilated into Finnish society? Are blacks and visible minorities expected to

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Does Finland promote two-way or one-way adaption of immigrants?

Our integration law promotes two-way adaption as opposed to assimilation, which is a one-way process. Section 17 of the Finnish Constitution states that each person living in this country has the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture. What do these two important laws mean in practice and how are they applied? Sensible Finns

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Helsingin Sanomat poll reveals Finns’ opposition to cultural diversity

A poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomt, Finland’s largest-circulation daily, reveals that 53% of those polled agreed (22%) or partially agreed (31%) that immigrants should aim at becoming as Finnish as possible. That compares with 18% and 30%, respectively, in 2011. If there is something worrying that the poll shows, it’s Finland’s growing opposition to cultural

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Artist Kiba Lumberg: “Don’t box me in!”

In order to understand Kiba Lumberg, 57, you need to know some Finnish history, the plight of minorities like the Roma, and what it is like to live in worlds shaded by different hues of grey. Since this story is about an artist who doesn’t want to conform to set norms imposed on her by

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Old Finnish national social constructs still fuel intolerance and exclude visible minorities

The Association of Finnish Culture and Identity (Suomalaisuuden liitto) is an association founded in 1906 to “strengthen the sense of national identity, to promote Finnish education and culture.” While this statement may appear innocent at first, the association endorses the intolerance white Finnish speakers have today against Swedish speakers never mind immigrants and visible minorities. In

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Dana: Forbidden questions

By Dana Questions need answers, silence is not an answer, silence has no wave, without a wave you can’t move, without a wave u cant build, without a wave you go and give up, without a wave u can’t wake up. 1. Is Sauli Niinisto your favor president? Why, if yes? Why not? Can you answer this

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Victimizing and labeling immigrants for political profit

UK’s David Cameron is one European PM who is using immigration to bolster his Conservative Party’s poll ratings. It’s a recurring and worrisome political story across Europe: let’s get tough on immigration so we can gain a few percentage points in the polls. This type of campaigning is not only cowardly, but racist and disgraceful.

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Confessions of a recovering racist

Society has achieved at least one significant victory in the fight against racism – it has succeeded in making open racism a dirty concept. The power of stigma that worked so effectively to reinforce racism has been harnessed to turn the tide against open discrimination – at least in polite society. Today, in most public

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Migrant Tales Literary: Mark or question mark

By Dana Source: www.aumethodists.org White or yellow or one step until yellow …Finish the race??? The question mark means that it is a question for you, so this story wants your ideas; u can prove them, ur idea as u wish. This is a colorful question so it isn’t an easy question to answer… but if

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Finland never was, is, and will be only “white”

Whenever a far right politician like Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Olli Immonen, Jussi Halla-aho or James Hirvisaari comment on what is or who has the right to be Finnish, they always get it wrong. Their views, that Finland is only white, is not only wrong but a hostile act towards the tens of thousands of Finns

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Sikh busman confident that employer will lift turban ban

Busman Gill Sukhdarshan Singh is confident that his employer, Veolia Transport of Vantaa, will honor a Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency ruling that imposing a turban ban by the employer was discriminatory. Source: Gill Sukhdarshan Singh. ”I have no doubt that that in two months, when I will get written permission from the employer, I will

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Ariela Patterson: The right to be me on my terms

One of the biggest challenges facing Finland in the new century is to come to terms with its ever-growing cultural diversity. While some Finns have no problems with this, others oppose it. Finland’s cultural diversity is, however, something that nobody can stop. There are today tens of thousands of Finns with multicultural backgrounds. Ariela Patterson,

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How serious is the Future of Migration 2020 Strategy?

The more I think of the government’s published white paper on immigration policy made public on Thursday, the more I have reason to worry.  Apart from omitting altogether the term multiculturalism and cultural from diversity in the Future of Migration 2020 Strategy, your suspicions aren’t put to rest by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK),

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Where are you from?

Even if I have lived most of my adult life in Finland and my mother is Finnish, I’m still asked occasionally where I’m from. In a spirit of mutual respect, I ask the person the same question. Some don’t like it.  The innocent question, where are you from, reveals a lot about our prejudices and

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“Only Finnish spoken here” versus cultural diversity

What would you do if you saw on an elementary school classroom door the following message: Only Finnish spoken here? Would you ask if speaking Swedish is ok? Would it raise disturbing memories of how minorities like the Saami were persecuted and discouraged at school especially after World War 2 for speaking their own language?

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Migrant Tales Literary: Boycott تحریم

By Dana نه رفیق و خانواده                  چهره ها پر از افاده نه در و نه پنجره، راه        مهر وموم و قفل و هم چاه نه کلید و رحمت و نور           همه کس بگویدت زور تازیانه می زند هار                 دیو زشت موذی

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How can we challenge racism if it isn’t a problem?

As long as we don’t see racism as a big enough problem in our society, our response to it will be inefficient. Just like any illness, we must first diagnose it and then prescribe a cure.   It’s disappointing to read how some people can insult others in a racist manner. Yesterday’s news story published

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It’s the cultural diversity, stupid!

Would it be fair to say that the biggest challenge facing Finland during this century is accepting its cultural diversity and deconstructing our white national identity in order to make our society more inclusive? Will this happen easily?  The central issue being debated in Finland today about immigrants boils down to one question: How much

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Migrant Tales Literary with Le monde n’est pas: Around Europe by Miguel Velayos

Comment: I came across this neat website on Twitter called Le monde n’est pas rond  (The world is not round). The website describes itself as “an international artistic newspaper, based in Luxembourg, that explores the contemporary realities of migration, borders, and human rights through the publication of articles, art and illustration, photography, prose and poetry.” Why not

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Pia Grochowski: Shifting our focus

By Pia Grochowski  “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” These were the final words written by the late Canadian leader of the opposition, Jack Layton, just hours before his untimely death

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Racism Review: Does Cultural Diversity Promote Economic Growth?

By Racism Review Diversity has sometimes been considered as an abstract principle, divorced from macro-economic trends and global realities. Research by Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor of Brown University, suggests otherwise. In a paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2011, Ashraf and Galor crystallize their findings on the interplay between cultural

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How do Finnish schools treat cultural diversity?

In theory, the answer is straightforward: Finnish schools should respect cultural diversity but a lot depends on the school and the principle.  If we compare how elementary and middle schools treated visible minority students in the 1990s, we hope that matters have improved since then.  But have they?  Cultural diversity in Finland up to the

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Helsinki’s and Greater Helsinki’s immigrant population to rise by over 131% in 20 years

A forecast that will be published Monday by Statistics Finland sees the immigrant population of Helsinki and its surroundings rising by over 131% in two decades to around 300,000 from 130,000, reports YLE in English, citing Swedish-language daily Hufvustadsbladet. Writes Yle in English: “Most non-Finnish speakers come to Finland and the Helsinki region from Africa

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Labels that fuel discrimination and racism in Finland

When will Finns drop this discriminatory term: Finns with immigrant backgrounds? Many, I suspect, are and should be proud of their background. I am but what happens if these labels and terms ensure that you will continue to be treated as something less equal?  What do you do if being labeled in such a way

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Journalists should question instead of spread racism and prejudice

Journalists are one group that have helped to spread and reinforce our prejudices and racism of other groups. There’s nothing surprising about this considering that journalists, like the media that employs them, mirror in part what the public feels.  Ilta-Sanomat is one tabloid resonsible for spreading racism in Finland during the 1990s. This billboard tells

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Pia Gro: So WHY are you here? The case of including Diversity

By Pia Gro I was born a Finnish citizen, yet I was born in Canada. This idea seems to confuse many people. I acquired two citizenships automatically at birth as a consequence of Jus Sanguinis (Citizenship inherited through family ties) and jus solis (citizenship granted by virtue of being born in a land). I lived

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Cultural diversity in Finland: A letter from Ida, Abdulah and Joseph

COMMENT: Migrant Tales has always been interested in publishing the experiences of Finns with multicultural backgrounds. The letter by “Ida” below is one of the first we ever published on this blog in September 2008. There are others ones aboutSomali-Finn Abdulah, Living in no-man’s land, and Joseph, What being Finnish means to me. While all of

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Denying racism is the new racism

The more we debate racism, the more our ignorance is exposed in the raw.* This is a good matter because when we begin to see the light at the end of this debate, we can start wiping off our ignorance and replace it with knowledge. Even so, denial is still rampant. Bill Maher said: “Denying racism is

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A cartoon that reveals a truth about integration and diversity in Europe

Sometimes when I read about how immigrants, their children and grandchildren are treated in some European countries, this cartoon comes to mind.  After the first warning and after you understand fully the but after the ” we’re a very tolerant society…” line,  many will encounter the wall of  institutional racism, the final icing of your integration cake

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Finland & Cultural Diversity 2012*

If 2011 was a watershed year for Finland with the historic rise of  a hostile party against immigrants and visible minorities in last year’s parliamentary elections, 2012 will be seen as a bittersweet turning point for the Perussuomalaiset (PS).  The year will be remembered as a very violent one for immigrants as well. During “Black

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2012 was another disappointing year for cultural diversity in Finland

Without a doubt, 2012 will be remembered as another bad year for cultural diversity in Finland. Finding the usual culprits isn’t difficult: ignorance and intolerance. It is surprising that a party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), which grew from relative obscurity to become the third-largest political force in parliament in 2011, can wake up the worst

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The same face of intolerance lives amongst us today

When I was growing up in the 1970s, one of the matters that followed me around was the constant news of the mass murder and cemetery silence imposed by ruthless Latin American dictatorships. If you lived in one of those countries where human rights violations were the rule, you were confronted by two options: take

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What are immigrants supposed to adapt to?

One of the biggest questions when speaking of the integration of immigrants and visible minorities in Europe and Finland is what are they supposed to adapt to. In theory everything sounds perfect in our law books. What happens on the ground, however, is a totally different story.  This abandoned Cadillac reveals the crude face of

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Finland must do more to ghostbust its race-and-blood myths

What do the rise of an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) and Kokoomus’ Saul Schubak’s statements concerning child allowances have in common?  Setting racism and greed aside, they are the ethnic and social myths that continue to be taught and reinforced at our schools, homes and society.  One of the biggest myths and social

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Migrant Tales Literary: We’re already here (in Finland)

We are the new minorty already here, if you like it or not ready to build whatever needs building and travel that long difficult path of acceptance. Like it or not we’re your neighbors and don’t forget, that we’re here like chimapnzees swinging on birches, sixes and aspens in this freezing cold with you, albino

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Migrant Tales gets mentioned on YLE Areena

Migrant Tales is always happy about the public recognition it has received in the past. The latest is from Mikko Kapanen of YLE Areena. He considers Migrant Tales to be one of the most influential blogs forums on multiculturalism in Finland. Click here to listen to the program. Kapanen published in May a blog entry called, Africa

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Immigrants that look down on other immigrants

The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow. William Blake Some immigrants who have lived in Finland for many decades have adapted so well to this country that even their prejudices and stereotypes are just like those of the locals. Some, like Alain Chiaroni or Freddy Van Wonterghem, however, go beyond the call

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Julian Abagond: Of mixed-race identities

COMMENT: Some Finns have resolved the “mixed-ethnicity” question by stating that there is only one kind in Finland. Such an affirmation, that there is only one type of “real” Finn, is as ludicrous as stating that racism doesn’t exist in this country. What does a white Finn say when he asks about your “other mixed”

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Enrique Tessieri: Why I write about racism

I write about racism and social exclusion in Finland because it affects me and those I care about. I should know because I used to live marginalized from this society for decades.  I didn’t live marginalized because I was maladapted. I was marginalized because I was well-adapted. Too many didn’t consider me a “real” Finn

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Teach me that we are more alike than different…

 …teach me not to hate. Teach me the lie and shame of racism [because] it hurts all people. Teach me to learn from you and to learn about me…  Inspirational words from the Center for the Healing of Racism that should be the guiding light enshrined in our national curriculum for schools (opetussuunnitelma) concerning cultural diversity.

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Norwegian armed forces show cultural sensitivity

Since July 1, the Norweaign armed forces have relaxed rules for religious headgear, writes the Local, quoting daily Stavanger Afterbladed. It is now possible for Sikh soldiers to use turbans as well as for Jews to use skull-caps while serving in the Norwegian armed forces. Muslim women are permitted to wear a hijab with their

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Book review: “The Myth of the Muslim Tide”

One of Migrant Tales’ aims has been to bust urban myths about immigrants and minorities. A book published last week by Alfred Knopf Canada, The Myth of the Muslim Tide, aims to do just that concerning Muslims.  Writes Doug Saunders, the author of the book: “In the U.S., anti-Muslim bigotry has reached such alarming levels

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Pepper spay attack against gay-pride event in Oulu, Finland

What kind of worlds live inside the heads of people who make political statements by attacking an event like North Pride, a sexual-diversity festival organized through Sunday in the northern Finnish city of Oulu?   Writes YLE in English: “A discussion event in Oulu on the situation of gay asylum seekers was the target of

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Finland’s and Japan’s demographic and economic decline

You don’t have to be an expert to understand that Europe and especially Finland are speeding towards a demographic and economic decline of untold proportions. The calamity we face will not come from outside our borders per se but will have the “Made in Finland” label on it.   There’s an interesting story on the

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Dear Finland, as the heat of summer draws…

Dear Finland, As the heat of summer draws attention to your ever-changing sub-arctic beauty, you may have wondered why Migrant Tales has become a voice of the immigrant and visible minority community in Finland. We are always humbled by your presence on our blog. In truth, we are nothing more than a new confident image

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Cultural diversity in Finland: The high price of being too alike

As a writer and person with a multicultural background, I have been seeking to narrate a more inclusive and accurate history of Finland. Taking into account that over 1.2 million people emigrated from this country between 1860 and 1999 and our ever-growing immigrant population, aren’t both of these facts enough proof of our cultural diversity?

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Our Finnish national identity in the new century

Glancing through a pile of documents and certificates my late grandfather (1892-1979) had is like entering a time machine. Two certificates catch my attention: a Finnish-language test in 1925 and another one when he changed his surname from Hantwargh to Harvo. Both documents offer us a glimpse of how a social construct like Finnish national identity was forged in the last century.

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Migrant Tales Literary: Yearning never waits

I made one of the greatest discoveries of my life in 1998 at the Finnish Seamen’s Church of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Even if such pleasant interior landscapes no longer witness my silence and stance, they are now distant memories that have turned into spacious imaginary cities in the mind where each building has a tale to tell, whispering.

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Don’t give racism a platform!

I’m fed up. I’m fed up of certain commentators visiting us here on Migrant Tales to spread lies and personal insults and to disrespect other cultures. Those that ONLY have terrible things to say about specific peoples (as opposed to cultural criticism) really are practicing extremism. How could it be otherwise? When we condemn totalitarianism,

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Migrant Tales is a blog that accepts who we are where we are

I sometimes wonder where I get the strength and inspiration to write at least one blog entry a day on Migrant Tales. It’s not that I have the luxury of giving 100% of my time to this blog because I have a job and a life as well. Migrant Tales is a powerful voice because it is a hand-on-heart operation running on the fuel of passion for social justice and equality.

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Is Finland ready for cultural diversity?

In light of social ills like racism and social exclusion in Finland, J. W. Berry of Queen’s University of Canada offers us an opportunity to ask a very important question: Are we in Finland ready for cultural diversity? If we still aren’t quite there yet, how long will it take?

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Milloin minusta tulee suomalainen?

”Olenko suomalainen?” on niitä kysymyksiä, jotka yhdistävät kaikkia toisen polven maahanmuuttajia. Mutta kaikista kipeimmin se koskettaa värillisiä. Kantasuomalaisten keskuudessa kuuluu välillä lausahdus maassa maan tavalla mutta mitä tämä sanonta oikeasti tarkoittaa.

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Finland Bridge*: Living in Finland

Adapting to a country like Finland felt sometimes like sojourning on a long and winding path. Despite the many curves and uncertainties, there was one matter that gave me strength to continue on my journey: My lifelong wish to live in this country. I could have never succeeded by myself and without the friendship and support of so many people.

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There is hope if racism thrives on ignorance and isolation

If racism thrives on ignorance and isolation, then there is hope but a lot has to be done. Instead of lowering oneself to the diatribe and hatred of anti-immigration groups, we must strive to find solutions. People who spread racism are by no means infallible. Racism is like Dracula. Not only does it live on by infecting the person, it cannot stand the light of day.

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The Migrant Tales Manifesto (for Finland and Europe)

Thanks to the growing number of supporters, Migrant Tales has become that “voice for those whose views and situation are understood poorly and heard faintly by the media, politicians and public.” During these past years we have read and debated many points of views and have complied them on a list below.

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A good immigration integration policy for Finland and Europe

One of the biggest challenges to Finland’s new integration program is how well it promotes what it set out to do. How passionate are we Finns about ethnic and minority equality in this country if the most important piece of the puzzle is still missing: the big picture and what place new Finns and their children have in our society.

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We must fight for greater cultural diversity representation in our democracy and society

When I grew up in the United States, most if not all of our most popular television series kept us doped in a fantasy world where the only people that counted were white Europeans who spoke English. We read history as well but there was too little about the “other” USAmerican: immigrants, Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans and a long list of other groups that built the United States.

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Lip service or action by Finnish municipal authorities?

The role of accepting refugees in remote municipalities as a way of slowing the number of people who move out of the community is a half-way solution to the challenging demographic problem facing many parts of Finland. While there is a lot of good will to accommodate refugees in their municipality, many of these people end up moving to bigger cities like Helsinki after short stay.

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Coming out into an identity: gay, lesbian, pariah…

There is one line of a film review of Pariah on Colorlines that really caught me: “The film hinges on the belief that there’s no one way to be young, or black, or queer. And while it’s a struggle to come into any identity, those fights are always punctuated by moments of resilience and triumph.”

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Toronto Sun: Multiculturalism Trudeau's gift to Canada

TORONTO – Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was a visionary about the way different cultures in Canada co-exist today,” says the CEO of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO), Dora Nipp. As 2011 draws to a close, so does the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Canada’s policy of Multiculturalism, spearheaded by Trudeau and adopted in 1971.

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Timo Soini: The beast behind the sugar-coated words

What does Perussuomalaiset (PS) party presidential hopeful, Timo Soini, really think about immigration and cultural diversity? A column he wrote in the latest Suomen Soini Presidentiksi [Soini for Finnish president] publication exposes what the leader of the PS thinks about such important issues.

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How to effectively burn cultural bridges in Finland and elsewhere

If you want to build bridges of understanding between different cultures, you have to learn acceptance, respect, have an open mind and good social communication skills. The total opposite of the above-mentioned are racism, ignorance, pigheadedness and the inability to learn about other cultures and effective communication skills.

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Teaching Tolerance: White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy

What does “white anti-racist” mean? How can guilt get in the way? And what’s all this talk about being “colorblind”? Teaching Tolerance asked community activists to share their thoughts on these questions, and others. Their answers shine light on the concepts of comfort, power, privilege and identity.

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Exemplary Finns and exemplary immigrants

You don’t need the acceptance of over 5 million people to feel welcome in Finland. Only a few exemplary people will do, even one or two persons. Even though I am a Finn with a multicultural background, these exemplary people have given me strength and belief in this society.

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Helsingin Sanomat’s mea culpa on immigration issues

Is lack of knowledge about living in a society with a small foreign population an excuse for poor and deficient coverage of Finland’s ever-growing immigrant population? The editor of Finland’s leading daily, Helsingin Sanomat, told Lahti-based Etelä-Suomen Sanomat that it has aimed to raise immigrant issues, racism and tolerance issues since society is changing and because of the political atmosphere has changed.

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Finland’s long-overdue issue with the cold war

Every country has its silent minority or majority and Finland is no different in this respect. The victory of the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS) party in April raises a lot of questions: Has the ghosts of Finlandization and the Continuation War (1941-44) been resurrected?

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Denying racism is rejecting Finland’s cultural diversity

When one looks at some topical issues being debated in Finland, like the role of cultural diversity, and tries to understand them, it is essential to dig deeper behind words in order to see the big picture. What do the most anti-immigration voices of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) say when they are against multiculturalism?

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Perussuomalaiset: The end of imaginary Finland

The Perussuomalaiset have a long way to go before the majority of Finns, never mind immigrants and minorities, begin to accept them as a “normal” Finnish party. The racist outbursts of PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen and PS MP Jussi Halla-aho’s pledge to tighten even more the screws on immigration policy, have got people concerned about what kind of a Finland we will be living in a few years down the road.

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Finland’s winning identity of the twenty-first century

When Finland gained its independence in 1917, an extensive Finnicization program began. Those that had foreign or non-Lutheran backgrounds were encouraged to throw away their history and amalgamate. In seven years, Finland will celebrate its centenary as an independent nation. What will be its winning identity in this century?

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The multicultural society of the future

It seems odd that in today’s technilogically advanced societies in Europe and elsewhere our views of other groups continues to pose major challenges. If I had to picture the sitaution in a cartoon, I would draw a picture of one of our first primates, Australopithecus africanus, which existed 2-3 million years before present sitting in front of a computer and speaking to the future with a Skype time machine.

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