All of us are needed to abolish racism and discriminatory structures
As a society, we must work actively to abolish racism. The time of wondering whether there is racism in Finland is over. Racism is a serious problem, and it denies many people their right to equality. Now is the time to act.
This week is the National Anti-Racism Week, which takes place on the same week as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the UN on 21 March. Racism can appear in different forms, such as structures, hate speech, violence, discrimination, or seemingly neutral practices that in reality exclude individuals or groups of people seen as non-white. Discrimination and hate crime must not be seen only as individual cases; the structural racism and discrimination behind them must also be identified.
Racism can be identified best by someone who has experienced it personally. Many studies, complaints to the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman and the hate crime statistics of the police also speak of the prevalence of racism. Prejudices related to skin colour, name or religion can often be found in the background of racism. The aim of the National Anti-Racism Week is to impact these prejudices and prevailing attitudes. ⠀
Racism is harmful to the whole society, because it erodes the basis of good encounters and experiences of inclusion – the resources used to build a society, to which everyone can contribute. A society, where every person is equal and valuable. All of us are needed to remove racism and discriminatory structures. The work must not be left on the shoulders of marginalised people. Many of our ways of thinking and acting are partially racist, even if we do not notice or want to admit it ourselves. It is easiest for us to identify individual racist acts, but the attitudes and structures that deny people their right to equality are the most dangerous.
The Finnish society, every authority included, must do everything in its power to address racism and discrimination. It starts with admitting that the problem exists, listening better to those who have experienced racism, and taking action. Together we can build a more equal Finland for everyone.