Taking down statues, raising new ones and systematic whitewashing in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Slavery is the next thing to hell.

Harriet Tubman 1822-1913

Statues are being toppled left and right, some with permission others without. TV shows and movies like “Gone with the wind” are taken down because of their racist content. All of this indicates that we have reached some sort of tipping point.

Long live #BlackLivesMatters!

In all this protest against racism, Finland appears as an innocent observer of what is happening in the US and other parts of Europe. MP Ano Turtiainen, who got expelled from the far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, can tell you how much it cost him to underestimate his racist tweet that mocked George Floyd’s death.

It was a hard blow from the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

The fact that an MP can post such racist trash as a member of Finland’s second-largest party is the clearest indication yet that the #BlackLivesMovement is long overdue in Finland.

But let’s not kid ourselves, #BlackLivesMatter reached Finland in early June.

Source: Twitter

A Helsingin Sanomat article on the impact of the #BlackLivesMovement claims that we should “learn from history.” It continues by stating that there may not be any need to take down statues of questionable leaders like Edward Colston, King Leopold II, Christopher Colombus, Confederate generals, Winston Churchill, and others as long as we study and learn from history.

Yes, but no. We can take down statues to reflect the values of today.

Read the full story here.

In Finland, too, we have learned very little or nothing about our culturally and ethnically diverse past. The reason why “we have not learned from our history” is that the whitewashing process is near-complete and systematic.

While some statues in Finland should end up in a museum or in a metal smelter, we need to raise new ones. One of these is of Rosa Emilia Clay. (1875-1959).

There are no statues never mind a humble street that carries her name anywhere in Finland.

Read the full story (in Finnish) here, and more about Clay [in English) here.

Clay was a teacher and Finland’s first African who became a Finnish citizen in 1899. Her perseverance and her suffering as a black woman are proof of the challenges of our culturally and ethnically diverse society still faces.

In my opinion, Finland is such a racialized country and so obsessed with its whiteness that even white people from outside the EU, are othered.

Source: Twitter

Due to my Jewish background, which I was supposed to forsake due to whitewashing, I was fortunate to rediscover who my distant relatives were and why I was supposed to forget them.

Understanding that we are part of a hostile whitewashing process waged at us should bring guys closer to Emma Tubman’s words, “And I prayed to God to make me strong and able to fight, and that’s what I’ve always prayed for ever since.”

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is growing and getting stronger in Finland as well. It gives us courage, makes us stronger, and abler to fight.