Comment: This blog entry was first published on November 28, 2011. For some reason, it’s impossible to access this posting from the old Migrant Tales site. I have reposted it on www.migranttales.net.
Is there such a concept as Uncle Tom in Finland? @HelsinkiObs helped me out with this question: “It’s Setä Tuomo (older style) or Tuomo-setä if you mean this context.”
A New York Times opinion-piece gives the meaning of Uncle Tom: “Today, of course, the book has a decidedly different reputation, thanks to the popular image of its titular character, Uncle Tom — whose name has become a byword for a spineless sellout, a black man who betrays his race.”
In Finland the definition would be the same as in the United States. A Tuomo-setä could be any immigrant who betrays other people like him by becoming and adopting the same values that fuel racism.
The Finnish Uncle Tom is a pretty opportunistic person. He or she believes that the only way to escape discrimination is by becoming the culprit.
There are a lot of Tuomo-setäs out there who are more racist than some Finns.
What do you think would be a good name for an Uncle Tom that lives in Finland?