It was only a few years ago when Migrant Tales was openly challenged by some for speaking out against racism in Finland. According to the more hostile commentators that posted on our site back then, racism didn’t exist in this country. If it existed, it was minor and exceptional.
Even after the anti-immigration and anti-EU Perussuomalaiset (PS) party scored their historic election victory in 2011, some Finns continued to live in denial about this social ill. As intolerance was played down, Finland become an ever-hostile place for immigrants and visible minorities.
Here’s one comment Allan in May 2011 that sums it up:
That is exactly what Enrique is trying to achieve with his hate speech, or has already along with your kind of sycophants. Always there is a foreigner anything happens it is “racism” be it from having to pay a bus ticket and someone not sitting next to him, its “racism”. So that is why there is no racism in Finland, as it is all imagined. Boy called wolf one time too many.
Allan’s comment about racism in Finland is highly revealing because it shows how intolerance is able to see another day thanks to denial.
The question is no longer whether there is racism in Finland or not, but to what extent this social illness has found roots in this country. Those roots of intolerance are very deep and cover a wide area.
Still in denial?
Why then do some Finns still refuse to recognize that there are “other” Finns, who have the same rights as they to live here?
Why don’t you ask immigrants and visible minorities if they feel secure in Finland? How can they be if they are underemployed or unemployed? Why not ask third-culture children who, despite having lived all their lives here, are still labelled as pupils “with immigrant backgrounds” by teachers?
Why not ask why such youths have a greater chance of becoming marginalized than white Finns?
Why are we asking this question over and over again, if there is racism in Finland, if we have the answer and proof? Ever thought about asking the Romany minority of Finland, which have lived here for five centuries?
Tim Wise puts the whole issue in the following manner when he speaks of white privilege in the United States:
To be a person of color in this country, is to always have to know what the other guy thinks. It is to always have to know what the other person thinks about you. I you don’t, if you for one minute, you forget what other people think, your life is in danger.
The intolerance that Wise speaks of is already here in Finland and will reach the same intensity as in the United States if we do not take concrete steps to challenge such a social ill.
But why should a white Finn challenge intolerance? He’s the top dog, a member of the dominant group.
Sensible people understand that if racism isn’t challenged in our society, the biggest loser we’ll be the whole of society. White Finns will be able to keep their privilege but at a huge social cost.
To find a good answer whether intolerance is an issue in this country, it’s important to listen to those that are at the receiving end like Laura Eklund Nhaga.
I hope that more Finns, especially those with non-white backgrounds, stand up for their rights like this young woman.