As a panelist in an antiracist seminar in Abo Akademi University in Finland recently, with participants from the faculty and students, a question was posed to me. I considered it key for anyone with interest in understanding the centuries old human problem of race and racism. The question was: “What is the right way to anti-racist work?”
Under the Act on Equality between Women and Men, Finnish universities must aim to “prevent discrimination based on gender, to promote equality between women and men, and thus to improve the status of women, particularly in working life”. Since 2014, under the same Act, universities must also work to prevent “discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression”. Finnish universities are also obliged to conform to the Non-Discrimination Act for which the aims are “to foster and safeguard equality and enhance the protection provided by law to those who have been discriminated against in cases of discrimination”. Discriminatory treatment based on “age, ethnic or national origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics” fall under the scope of the Act. While there currently is little research written in English on racism in Finnish academia, cases of institutional and individual racism in universities have been documented in Finnish media.
Aminkeng A Alemanji
“Hello I am Amin, a researcher at the University of Helsinki working on the issue of antiracism education in Finland.” This is how I often introduce myself to people only to observe a quiet exclamation and a smug smile. I often wonder if this is because of who I am or what I am doing or if it is just my accent. In March 2015, a journalist working for YLE news helped me understand the reason for my interlocutors’ reactions when she followed her smile with the question “Oh is there such a thing (as antiracism education) in Finland?”