Are you a target of racism in Finland?
By Enrique Tessieri
This blog entry broke on March 16, 2012 the 22,440-visits barrier. Since it was first published in May 2007, it has got 1,540 comments. Even though it is a simple test that aims to shed light on a social ill in this country, it asks, like the one by Alcoholic Anonymous, some hard and unpleasant questions.
Thanks to your support, the Are You a Target of Racism in Finland post has turned into a very big thumbs down against racism in this country.
Due to the popularity of this post, the “racism test” will be translated into different languages. The first of these is in Spanish.
Racism manifests itself in various ways. Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Ku Klux Clan are some of its most terrible manifestations. Today, in Europe, some political parties are capitalizing on xenophobia in order to lure votes for their opportunistic and undemocratic political aims. Racism may happen in different ways in different cultures but one matter is for certain: its primary aim is to exclude, destroy lives and become underachievers
In a country like Finland, racism happens through exclusion. Unemployment among foreigners in Finland is a good example. At the end of 2009, 26% of immigrants living in this country were without work when compared with about 8% nationally. The unemployment figure for foreigners in Finland is one of the highest in the EU. A reader made an insightful comment about racism in Finland:
Finnish society, as I am sure you know, gives perhaps a rather misleading ‘public’ image at times. You probably know that Finns aren’t so great at being confrontational or saying what they think openly, thus I think sometimes things like racism are actually more prevalent than you would imagine – but fortunately mainly behind closed doors. People know it is wrong and don’t say it in public, but they still think it in private. The problem is, that in recent years the internet has let the ‘cat out of the bag.’ People can write often what they like without being traced. It’s definitely being used especially by the extremists.
With parliamentary elections in April 2011, a number of political parties, most notably the Social Democrats and True Finns, are trying to capitalize on xenophobia. It is shameful and a tragedy for this country.
Here is a short Migrant Tales “racism meter” for foreigners and minorities that can help you know if you are a target of discrimination in Finland:
1) I am self-employed (for some it is the only way of employment)
2) I’m unemployed (generally jobless claims among foreigners totals about 26%)
3) Finns often give me strange looks
4) Public officials, like the police, drag their heels with me
5) The police consider me guilty before proving my innocence
6) A Finn treats me too nicely. (I don’t want special treatment I want to be treated equally).
7) Finns are distrustful of me
8 Finns are usually watching over me at work (I have to be twice as good as a Finn)
9) If I make a mistake, it’s a bigger deal than normal
10) In a debate, I always know less than a Finn
Here is a new one, number 11: I get attacked by comments on my blog for speaking out against racism.
If you answered YES to any two, the chances are that you are a target of racism in Finland. If you answered YES to three or more, you are definitely a target of racism in Finland.
Note: This was based on an Alcoholics Anonymous questionnaire.