By Enrique Tessieri
What should you do if you live in Finland and cannot find employment? The lucky ones can move to another country but for many it is a crude dead-end street lined with little hope: fragmented work life, lower salary than average, health problems and, worse, discrimination that will discourage you to integrate.
There is an interesting article in Sunday’s Helsingin Sanomat on page A8 about a U.S. citizen, Ryan Savage, who is married to a Finn.
“USAmerican Ryan Savage is a dream come true for the immigration officials: university graduate that moved with his spouse to Finland. He speaks the most widely spoken language in the world [English]. The problem is that Savage cannot find any work in Finland.”
Helsingin Sanomat claims that immigrant men make on average 10,000 euros less than Finnish men, while the difference [6,000 euros] is less between immigrant and Finnish women.
Other sad realities about being an immigrant in this country are that you have a greater chance of living in poverty than Finnish families and have twice as greater chance of being attacked by another person than a Finn. One study showed that immigrant men have 50% more ear ailments than Finnish males.
If the above is true, we should be especially concerned and critical about those parties that play down the role prejudice and racism in this country. All these social and physical symptoms mentioned above are indirectly or directly related to social ills like exclusion.
But if a politician, political party or society deny that racism is not a big social problem in this country and that everything is fine, it is effectively telling you that they will not do anything to tackle the problems of our ever-growing immigrant community. Thus you do not exist. Since you don’t exist there is no reason to even worry never mind begin addressing your problems.
There are many ways of confronting the apathy or denial of the majority concerning our community: get involved in a political party, form a social movement, start up a blog like Migrant Tales or Facebook page like My Finland is International, or simply leave Finland for greener pastures.
Everyone isn’t that fortunate that he or she can just move to anther country. Some are forced to face that depressing music that eats away at your self-esteem and keeps you from realizing your full potential in this society.
A society like ours that claims to be for social justice and equality cannot accept prejudice, exclusion and inequality in any form.
While first-generation immigrants should raise their voices in Finland and demand changes, it is their children that are our hope.
Some of them have seen enough of how their parents have been excluded from the labor market and are getting the short end of society’s stick.
They, rightfully, have a valid gripe and should demand far better than what their parents got.
It’s time to organize, be and think proactively.