In order to understand how racism works in countries like Finland, it is important to see how it occurs in multi-ethnic countries like Peru. While the documentary below clearly shows the many ugly faces of intolerance in Peru, it gives us some good answers to address the social ill in Finland.
One of the interesting questions that we should be asking as our society becomes ever-culturally diverse is if we will commit the same mistakes that other countries have and are committing today.
Do we believe in Finland that there are superior and inferior ethnic groups? Do we stereotype and generalize about these superior and inferior groups and that their characteristics (intelligence, laziness etc) are linked to ethnicity? Do we believe that these so-called cultural characteristics are passed from one generation to the next infinitely?
If you answered yes to all the three questions, it may be that intolerance is a serious issue in this country. It grows and gathers strength because it is denied and because too many of us don’t show leadership and prefer to remain quiet in the face of this social ill.
Walter Twanama, a social analyst, says in the documentary that factors like ethnic appearance, socioeconomic and educational level as well as origin play a key role in whether you belong or not to the underprivileged classes. Language is another factor that classifies you.
Since ethnic group is associated with power, it’s clear that people want to be part of the group that controls power and wealth. In Peru they have a verb for this, which is blanquear, or to become white.
The system works in a pretty straightforward fashion: the whiter you are, the higher the socioeconomic level. Those with the least amount of power are Peru’s indigenous groups, which are the most excluded and poorest.
Rolando Arellano, a market researcher, said that even if discrimination occurs in Peru, it is a question of time when those that are today socially excluded will be one day accepted. “It’s not [the] more numerous [this socially excluded group become as it become more accepted], but [becomes] stronger,” he said.
Martín Tanaca, a political scientist, said that laws that severely punish discrimination are crucial. He said that tolls must be given to people to defend themselves from racism and discrimination.
Finally the documentary raises a very important point after it uncovered that racism and discrimination exist in Peru. It poses two important questions:
- Do you want to live in a country with so much inequality and discrimination or not?
- Are we going to do something or not to change the situation?
The final two questions are not only key to Peru but vital in any society that wants to tackle a social ill like intolerance.
Thank you William Rivera for the heads-up.