When will Finns drop this discriminatory term: Finns with immigrant backgrounds? Many, I suspect, are and should be proud of their background. I am but what happens if these labels and terms ensure that you will continue to be treated as something less equal?
What do you do if being labeled in such a way undermines your career chances and competing with white Finns for the best jobs?
Fred Dervin, a professor of multicultural education at the University of Helsinki, said the usage of such labels create inequality, especially if the person was born in this country.
“It is dangerous because we create [a sense of] inequality, since not everyone is given the same treatment or opportunities,” he was quoted as saying on YLE in English.
Part of the problem aren’t Finns labeling “others” as eternal outsiders, but those who are being labeled accept it! Some of them fall into the trap and actually believe they are somehow less equal, or don’t have the right to be on equal terms with a white Finn because of their immigrant background.
Some will struggle during their lives to be as white as possible without ever understanding the beauty of their roots. A valid question we should ask about integration in Finland is what are newcomers supposed to integrate to?
If Dervin makes a case for those who were born in this country, I would take it even further: What about those that came here as children and have lived most of their lives in this country?
Why are they still considered “foreigners?” How many generations must they live in Finland in order to be accepted as equals?
The same matter that happens in countries with immigrants is happening in Finland but in a different context. It’s the same discriminatory standard used to exclude others from being treated as equals in society.
Identity is a personal matter. You are who you think you are. If some have an problem with this, it’s their problem, not yours.
No matter how you cut it, we should start to better identify and discard from our speech those terms that fuel discrimination and inequality.