Every story that I read about the new faces of Finland, which is much older than anyone would care to admit, I get excited and inspired. In a flash, I see everything and understand who I am. For a fleeting moment, my thoughts are in perfect balance with my gut feelings and who I am: I belong here, always have and always will.
An interview in Ylioppilaslehti below is a wonderful example of how not only Finland has changed from a country that believed incorrectly it was monocultural to one that is today ever-culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse.
It is the job of the Other Finns to spearhead Finland to a new Finnish identity in the new century.
And the person in the article below, an attractive young woman, states the following at the end of the story:
“It’s absurd that a Finn in the year 2016 is forced to fight for his own identity and whether he belongs to that imagined community called Finland. We cannot build Finland, defend it by excluding a large number of people because they’re not like the rest and because they came from somewhere else.
Many don’t understand that Finnish identity is changing. It has already changed. It’s high time that we grow accustomed to this.”
Read the full story here.
In the 1970s when I visited my grandparents every summer from Southern California, some people didn’t believe that I was from Argentina because nobody from such a distant country visited Finland.
We were also such an isolated country in the 1960s that people mistook me for being a member of the Roma minority because there were so few visible foreigners.
One of the biggest surprises I faced when I moved permanently to Finland in December 1978 was the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity. Behind that facade there was festering nationalism, racism, and white Finnish privilege.
When foreigners were asked in the 1980s if there was racism in Finland, the answer went something like this: There is. The darker the skin color the more racism you’d experience.
It has taken about thirty years since those years to grasp that one of the saddest facts about Finland is racism. Racism not only exists but is alive and growing.
The social ill cannot only be measured by hate speech and hate crime but by the near-silence of the politicians. The fact that we have a populist anti-immigration party that bases its support on racism, bigotry and far-right ideas should worry us all.
Some of the victims of Finland’s racism, bigotry and nationalism are the Other or multicultural Finns. We are the new and proud face of this country in the new century and we are ready for that challenge.
Nothing will stop us from being treated as equals in this country and making our mark no matter how many racist, bigotted and nationalistic obstacles are placed on our paths.
The future is ours!