In many respects white privilege, or specifically white Finnish privilege, is a good way to understand some of the challenges that migrants and especially non-white Finns face in this country. Migrant Tales invites its readers to share their thoughts on the social ill.
Please send your comments on the topic to [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.
The Olen Suomalainen video clip says it all about making Finland a more inclusive country. Read full story here.
Are the days of white Finnish privilege counted or extended?
Understanding what white privilege is essential if we want to challenge intolerance in Finland. It’s pretty clear that the way white privilege works in the United States or in the United Kingdom shouldn’t differ greatly from white Finnish privilege.
Let’s look at some definitions of this social ill below.
Harry Brod states the following: “It [white privilege] is something that society gives me, and unless I change the institutions which give it to me, they will continue to give it, and I will continue to have it, however noble and equalitarian my intentions.”
Francis E. Kendall defines white privilege:
Privileges are bestowed on us by the institution with which we interact solely because of our race, not because we are deserving as individuals. While each of us is always a member of a race or races, we are sometimes granted opportunities because we, as individuals, deserve them; often we are granted them because we, as individuals, belong to one or more of the favored groups in our society.
Urban Dictionary defines it the following words:
The racist idea that simply being white benefits people in some unexplainable way, and that discriminating against white people is not only okay, but enlightened and necessary. The excuse some extremists use to justify pretty much any level of racism, as long as it is coming from people of color. A young American woman died because in college she was brainwashed into believing that her white privilege would protect her from being run over by a bulldozer.
And Time Wise says:
White privilege refers to any advantage, opportunity, benefit, head start, or general protection from negative societal mistreatment, which persons deemed white will typically enjoy, but which others will generally not enjoy.
If white privilege is detrimental to non-whites, the only way to challenge it is to expose and challenge it. This won’t be easy since who in their right minds wants to give up their privileges?
One way to start is to show the negative impact that white privilege not only has on minorities but on all of society.
A good question to ask if “since when was racism and prejudice good for society?”
Rodolfo Walsh, an Argentinean journalist and writer, said something that we should never forget when we write our history.* Even if it was written in the 1970s and in Argentina, it still applies to immigrants and multicultural Finns and exposes how white Finnish privilege works:
Our dominant classes have made sure that the worker has no history, doesn’t have a doctrine, any heroes or any martyrs. Every struggle has to be started from scratch, separated from previous struggles; the collective history is lost, their lessons are forgotten. History appears as it if were private property, whose owners are the owners of everything.
In other words, as a migrant and Other in Finland, you have no history, no heroes or martyrs. Every struggle you begin starts from zero because you have no collective history. The only history that counts, and what you’ll be taught, is that of white Finns. You are unimportant and not taken into account.
If the civil rights movement is ‘dead’, and if it gave us nothing else, it gave us each other for ever. It gave us history and men far greater than presidents. It gave us heroes, selfless men of courage and strength, for our little boys and girls to follow. It gave us hope for tomorrow. It called us to life.
- Defining white Finnish privilege #1: I have it and you don’t
- Defining white Finnish privilege #2: Third culture children versus “pupil with immigrant background”