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?”
Every now and then, I get into an argument online about racism. I should know better. But once I did it on a larger scale, as a project, when I cooperated with The Guardian on a series called Racism in the Digital Age. The series developed from an editorial concern with the sheer level of abuse aimed at writers of colour ‘below the line’. But while abuse could be moderated, there was also sense that whenever a writer of minority background wrote in any way about their experience, or with a lens trained on the racial dimension of social and political issues, they were frequently greeted with hostility, hostility expressed in the refrain, ‘why are you bringing race into it?’ The first wave of articles in the series, then, was to examine changing understandings of racism in the UK, and also to invite writers who had experienced this abuse or latent hostility to write about their experience of writing about race and racism in an interactive media environment.