Racism growing in Finland and children are the main target – Scary!Thursday, 07 July 2011
Children and teens are encountering more and more racist attitudes in their daily lives in Finland today than before, according to a new research.
Researcher Anne-Mari Souto from the University of Eastern Finland says that criticism against immigration has become more visible — and more acceptable — after it played a prominent role in election campaigning.
Abusive comments and threatening situations are nothing new to 15-year-old Marc Patterson, for example whom the Finnish new agency Yle contacted. He is Finnish-American who has been subjected to words such as “neekeri” thrown against him. This word is considered as a racial slur in Finland.
“Once when I was on my way home, I ran into a pretty big crowd. They started shouting and then walked behind me. I might’ve got beaten up there,” Patterson recalled to Yle.
Racism manifests mostly as caustic insults and physical violence, but there’s also discriminatory attitudes and ridicule. Verbal abuse on the street comes mostly from older people. Adults’ aggression against children or teenagers is not easily forgotten.
“Well yes, it keeps replaying in your head when you come across racism. I don’t like it, but it’s also a little scary,” Patterson says.
Asked is Racism now more acceptable in Finland?
Researcher Anne-Mari Souto from the University of Eastern Finland says that young people with immigrant backgrounds come across such expressions of racism increasingly often in their everyday lives.
The elections have opened the door to discussions on immigration—also those which were carried in rather harsh tones, according to Souto. That, she says, made visible manifestations of racism appear more acceptable.
“Recent discussions in Finland provide alarming evidence that racism has become more public,” Souto says.
Even though much is said in Finland about multiculturalism and appreciation of different cultures, these speeches do not always translate into action in everyday life.
“The principle that if in Rome do as the Romans do undermines considerations of diversity. For example, it’s preferred that people should speak good Finnish, behave in a Finnish way, greet people, dress and wear makeup like Finns do,” Souto lists. She notes that this hinders acceptance of new cultural practices.
By Scancomark.se with input from Yle, the Finnish national broadcaster