Hello! Today I am going to do a post on how not to be racist.

I am doing this post because I am so sick of people saying things like “I don`t mean to sound racist, but (insert racist comment)”.

Perhaps, people who use this expression are truly hypocritical, because they try to act nice when they actually are not so nice. In that regard, I have slightly more respect towards the Finnish politician Olli Immonen, who declared publicly that he is ” dreaming of a strong, brave nation that will defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism” than these gutless people.

Because Mr. Immonen actually has the guts to say what he feels, even though it is not a kind statement.

Before we proceed, let us define some terms:

    • “Racist”: A person who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
    • “Nationalist”: A person who believes that it is important to be loyal to and proud of his/her country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries.
    • “Discrimination”: the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.

Note that out of these three definitions, “discrimination” is the only neutral one. This means that there could be positive discrimination as well. Positive discrimination can occur in the form of affirmative action (a form of protection towards minorities), or in general any form of preferential treatment of a particular group a person because it is in line with your goals or visions.

It is also possible for instituitionalised discrimination to be neutral because an institution “didn´t know”–for example, Aalto University did make all students who previously studied in ALL Asian/African universities take English tests for admission to their masters programme, when all EU/EEA folks do not have to. This is irrespective of whether these Asians/ African Universities have their bachelor degree conducted in English or not. The assumption here is that the universities in these Asian/ African regions (1) Do not conduct their classes in English, (2) conduct their classes in suspiciously bad English. In this case therefore, there is discrimination because this so called “English test” is nothing based on merit at all–if this is indeed so, why not make everyone take the English test?

Personally, I had to take the English test for masters admission in spite of having graduated with an honours degree from the National University of Singapore, ranked top 12 in the entire world according to the 2015 QS survey, and having spoke English my entire life. I already told the school four times this is so, but they didn`t give any official reply. Oh wait–perhaps my English is really sucky simply because I am a Singaporean, opps! Let`s see when Aalto University finally changes the rule then, if it ever changes–I am really curious! =)

This “English test” incident did however, make me realise that the “Singapore” national brand is worth NOTHING in Finland.This is in spite of Singapore ranking #No.1 on BrandFinance latest global research.

So it humbled me a lot. This incident reminds me that all Singaporeans should not rest on our laurels when it comes to Singapore`s overseas and global country branding. For Singaporeans, the best is yet to be, always.

So let me now talk about the term “nationalist”. The nuance of the term “Nationalist” is a bit more ambiguous, and depends really on the country´s historical and cultural context. Some might alternatively refer to a “nationalist” as a “patriot”. For example, I tend to see myself as rather patriotic to multicultural Singapore. In my past roles as Singaporean youth ambassadors to ASEAN, Korea and Japan, I have become rather sensitive and mindful of how the public image of Singapore is projected overseas. Naturally I am protective of my country`s image too.

The very respected sociologist Benedict Anderson, for example, defined a nation as “an imagined political community”. As Anderson articulates, a nation “is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion“.

Therefore, the issue is this: in a nation like Finland with a relatively homogenous population, all three terms get mixed up quite often. So a person might call a Finn “racist” when he actually means “nationalist”. The difference between both terms is that “racist” has much less logical and humanistic justification than “nationalist”, and is hence more frowned upon.

Now let us ask ourselves one question–

“Why, pray tell, should a person not be racist?”

My personal answer is that a person should not be racist because it is the basic thing to do. It is as simple as that! Why would you judge a person simply by skin colour?! Skin colour has no practical function at all, apart from aesthetic purposes.

In Finland, the main reason given for not being racist is because most of the Finnish public uphold the noble ideals of equality. Also, racists comments are very, very hurtful.

Next question–

“Should a person be nationalist?”

I believe this answer is more ambiguous. Personally, I definitely do not think Singapore is perfect, but I think we Singaporeans collectively as a nation did very well for the past 50 years of Singapore`s independence. Therefore I am patriotic.

I think in general, most Finns are patriots and they express it publicly. There is even a Finns party democratically elected into the current ruling coalition, and you more about the sometimes racist view of this party here, here and here.

“Democratically elected” means that it is the Finnish public of voting age who voted The Finns Party into power, presumably for their political views, and this party won the second highest number of votes for this year´s election. Interestingly, the Finns Party candidate Olli Sademies also suggested publicly that Africans in Finland be sterilized because they are having too many children.

Therefore, let us now ask ourselves–

“Is there evidence of racism in Finland?”

The answer unfortunately, is yes. But we do not know if racism is the “norm” or the “exception” here. Watch this video of a Finnish lady calling a Kenyan nurse working in Finland “a Fucking African”. In addition, the Finnish lady said–and I quote– that Finland is “in trouble because of all the black people”.

The relationship between the terms “racism” and “nationalism” therefore, is that people who make racist remarks tend to do so on economic grounds. This is to say, that if a black person is rich, he will probably get way less racist comments than people of other colours.

People who are racist tend to be nationalist too, and they mistake their racism as a genuine concern about Finland`s economic viabity as a nation. This anxiety is often fuelled by the Finnish/Western media, portraying Africans in Finland as “outsiders” who are not-contributing to the economy, and even commiting crimes. Now this is a serious negative stereotype obviously, because racist folks who make such comments do not actually condemn Finns who are not working, preferring instead to conveniently put all the macroeconomic problems on the foreigners here.

Well watch this video that went viral, wont you! I am sure that there are videos of native (white) Finns stealing stuffs too, but those videos somehow do not go viral.

So…let us now think about how to stop being f*cking racist.

It is simply to integrate foreigners into your economy AND society.

If the country doesnt like foreigners, then it should not claim to be “international” or “global”, because this is hugely misleading. If Finland truly wants to be “global”, then it should step up on its integration process.

Is this so difficult to comprehend? Haha.

I said integration of foreigners into economy, because it does not make sense for the Finnish government to give free education to all students, and subsequently blame them when they fail to get jobs in Finland, despite wanting to stay.

Also, exactly why are you so sure that if you are a foreigner fluent in Finnish, you would be able to get a good job in Finland? I am asking because I am unsure where a person`s confidence comes from. Again, do these examples exist, and if they do, are they norms or exceptions?

Again, this is a question of integration.

Aside from jobs, more can be done on cultural integration too. This includes for instance, not judging a person`s English accent, or for them having bad English. I believe patience is key here when interacting with people from all over the world.

Also, it is might also be a good idea for the foreigner to do his/her best to learn Finnish, if there is an intention to stay in Finland for the long-term. This is more cultural than economical really, because the way to a native person`s heart is through language. =) I am not saying I do this well, since I can only read but not speak Finnish!

All in all, equality is a noble ideal in Finland, but is equality really practised–especially when immigrants in Finland are framed largely by the media as “leeches”? If we are not careful to take note of our thinking, it would be easy to seriously associate certain groups of people with certain stereoteypes.

The next question therefore is that–must you wait for the (really slow) Finnish government to do anything before you start practising treating people with respect in your daily lives?

My answer is a passionate no. WE can make a difference– just as we are–today.

Immigrants in Finland– no matter how rich or poor their home country is– can contribute greatly to the cultural diversity and richness in Finland. Regular readers of my blog would know how much I like looking at pretty girls, and I love multicultural events where there are pretty traditional costumes and good food (HEHE FOOD FOOD). Well, this is just one part of the advantages of multiculturalism. =) =) =)

So, why not be random, and invite neighbours of a different culture and race into your house for dinner? Ask them to cook some nice ethnic food and have a potluck party at your house!

My Somali neighbour for instance cooks really well. I sometimes play with her adorable kid.

So yes, my dear friends, the answer to how not to be f*cking racist is to:

  1. Promote economic integration for both Finns and immigrants on individual, community and nation-wide levels ;
  2. Enhance cultural integration for both Finns and immigrants; and
  3. Have pretty girls and great food from all over the world in one place–Finland!

OKAY!!! Hope you have enjoyed this post I am going to work now! =)