Why do the police identify Others as “person with migrant background” even if this is confusing, even illegal?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The tabloid story below picked up by Koko Hubara on her Facebook wall is an excellent example of how the define ethnicity and race. The police service is one of the most eager institutions in this country when it comes to labeling who are “real” Finns and those who are not.  

By law, a person is considered a Finn if he or she is a Finnish citizen. Even so, the police don’t care if you have Finnish citizenship or even if you were born in this country.

The Ilta-Sanomat story below is a prime example. It states that that “people with a migrant background” tried to rape a teenage girl in the southwestern Finnish city of Pori.

What does “people with migrant background mean?” Is it code for people who aren’t from the EU? But wait a minute! Europe is culturally and ethnically a very diverse place, Finland as well. Why then is the police defining on its own accord so-called “ethnic” Finns, or kantasuomalaisetand non-white Finns, or “people with a migrant background?”

A classic example of the way the police arbitrarily puts Finns into different ethnic categories was the Tapanila rape case in March.

Migrant Tales spoke in spring with the policeman, Jyri Hiltunen, who is in charge of the Tapanila rape case. He confirmed that some of the suspects are Finnish citizens.

“I don’t know exactly if all of them are citizens or not because this isn’t an essential piece of information in the case,” he said. “But some are [Finnish citizens].”

Not an essential piece of information? I disagree, considering some of these then suspects were born and raised in Finland as well.

Näyttökuva 2015-12-16 kello 9.09.22
Read original Ilta-Sanomat story here.

A person’s ethnicity and national background are defined the following manner: by nationality, place of birth and mother tongue.

A recent poll published by Oulu-based daily Kaleva revealed the following about how white Finns see Other Finns. Fifty-seven percent of them felt that a person is “a Finn” instead of “a person with a migrant background” when he is a naturalized citizen and lives permanently in the country; 15% believed that only second-generation migrants are Finns while 14% said third generation migrants.

Nine percent of those polled stated that under no circumstances can a migrant ever be considered “a Finn.”

The problem with the poll and the way the police classify Finns and non-white Finns is highly arbitrary.

Finland needs to change the way it classifies people ethnically and as Finns. The first step in the right direction would be to ask migrants and minorities in this country what they consider their identity to be? The present classification system – nationality, place birth and mother tongue – reflects how white Finns officially see Others. When the police use its own ethnic classification system, like “person with a migrant background,” reveals entitlement or white Finnish privilege.

If you disagree you can ask yourself how does being labeled unofficially by institutions like the police service as “person with migrant background” help promote integration and social equality in a country that  is gripped today by xenophobia?

Moreover, the police not only classifies people as “outsiders” in their statements but promotes studies that ethnically profile whole groups.

One recent statement put out by the Police College of Finland researchers, Kari Laitinen and Pirjo Jukarainan, is a prime example of how the police ethnically profiles whole groups.

Has anyone asked these researchers or those that did the Optula study on migrant crime, what responsibility they have in labeling whole groups like Muslims? What good practices do they employ in their research to avoid ethnically profiling certain groups?

The answer is absolutely nothing.

Being labeled ethnic categories that show entitlement serves only those who have privilege over migrants and minorities.

Finland was, is, and never will be a so-called monocultural country. That’s a social construct to strengthen entitlement and exclude Others.

We are a culturally and ethnically diverse country with a strong and proud migrant history.  Over 1.2 million emigrated from this land between 1860 and 1999. Many USAmerican Finns still consider themselves to be Finns even after five generations.

The police service could tell us when these USAmerican Finns ceased being “ethnic Finns” and became “people with migrant backgrounds.”

The ethnic categories used today by the police service have a goal: to exclude people from being treated as equal members of society.

Let’s stop this practice. It hinders and doesn’t promote inclusion.

    • Migrant Tales

      You are who you think you are. If people have a problem with that then that’s there problem.

      Being Finnish never was, is and never will be to mean belonging to one group.

    • Migrant Tales

      Do you mean an “Uncle Tom” or “Tuomo-setä?” Societies and cultures are so complex that there is a lot of room for difference. “Monoculturalism” never existed it is only a figment of the fascists’ imagination.

    • intternetnetsi

      I mean race traitors, lets call spade as spade as you say.
      You think that people should act according to their face and skin colour and we do see how well thats working when you look gypsies in here, they do act accordingly like you can read from discrimination reports what is full of people who try to act finnish but are pushed back by their own.