Comment: Even if racism comes in different forms in different countries and regions, it’s the same thing. People who work against this social ill face similar problems irrespective if they are in Lieksa, Finland, or in Fresno, California.
If, for example, we want to see what kind of a threat neo-Nazi groups pose for Finland, it would be good to turn our attention to Germany to see what they have done on this front. If we want to see what anti-immigration far-right parties have in store for us, we could look at the impact of parties like the Danish People’s Party.
There has been dear little public debate in Finland about those who work with immigrants and try to empower minorities to stand up for their rights. Sometimes “well-intentioned” groups may do just the opposite and promote apathy, however.
The Teaching Tolerance story below asked four women some of the most common mistakes “white anti-racist” activists make when working with ethnic minorities.
These are some of the issues they brought up:
- Not acknowledging that they have power and privilege by the mere fact that they are white.
- The most common mistakes white activists make are 1) setting an agenda with the illusion of inclusion, and 2) having to have a franchise on comfort.
- White anti-racists make a mistake when they shut out the poor and uneducated and keep in those “in the know” to decide what’s good for people of color.
- “Getting it” is the biggest point, I feel. Getting it means many things: the ability for white activists to understand that they have a space and place of privilege. It really is up to white people to give up their privilege and be okay with that.
- I believe that white allies can “get it” if we define “getting it” as becoming attuned to the subtle effects of racial bias in everyday interactions and environments. We can “get it” if we recognize the systemic presence of racism and how race-based oppression is allowed to continue.
Do we “get it” in Finland?
Thank you @getgln for the heads up!
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.