Friday, November 6, 2015

The viral racist Finnish woman (VIDEO)

A disturbing video of a racist Finnish woman verbally abusing an African woman on the streets in Finland in broad daylight has been shared widely and discussed online. The video, which looks like a 1960s scene in the deeply racist American south, is difficult to watch and some people, especially Africans and all people of African descent may find it extremely offensive. It portrays Finland in a racist light, and all Finns of goodwill must be embarrassed by it.

An African woman endured a racist verbal attack in Finland in October 2015. The incident was captured on video, as many incidents are captured nowadays, and uploaded to the internet - then widely shared on social media. The video, which is available on Facebook and YouTube, is also making rounds via mobile messaging applications like WhatsApp. The video was also picked up by foreign news outlets such as RT, the Daily Mail and Nairobi News. Incidentally, major news outlets in Finland like Helsingin Sanomat and Yle intentionally or unintentionally didn't carry the story.

According to Iltalehti, the incident took place on Friday 23 October 2015 around Sello shopping centre in the Leppävaara district of Espoo. The woman on the receiving end of the racist abuse is a Kenyan practical nurse.

My view

First of all, I am disappointed that the racist woman's face wasn't captured on the video. The "naming and shaming" approach is sometimes an effective way of dealing with racists - many of whom live unidentified among decent people in communities. Some of them might even be working with kids, some of whom might be black, in places like daycare centers - and who knows what the kids might be going through in their hands. Racists, I believe, should be "outed" whenever and wherever possible so that society, including their colleagues, family, friends and acquaintances can know who they truly are.

That said, some viewers might be interested to know what happened in the build up to the racist outburst but I won't go into it because it's immaterial. Nothing can justify such a blatant display of racism and narrow-mindedness. Racism is a big problem in Finland and it stems from ignorance - the kind of ignorance demonstrated by the racist who thinks that all non-whites, inlcuding refugees displaced by war are "welfare shoppers". Many non-whites in Finland have experienced some form of racism in the country. In fact, the Kenyan woman in this case told Iltalehti that it's not the first time she experienced racism in Finland.

Racially motivated verbal abuse is by no means uncommon in Finland. According to Yle, many immigrants encounter offensive language daily. A Cameroonian social worker, for instance, told Yle that he was called the N-word once when he was taking his kid to daycare. A 29-year-old Libyan woman told Yle that she was once spat on by a Finnish man in a bus. These examples go to show that the experience of the Kenyan woman in Espoo is unique but it's share by many immigrants in Finland.

Although the video of the racist Finnish woman is shocking, it isn't surprising. The only thing that is a little bit surprising in this case is that the racist woman appears to be sober and not under the influence of alcohol. In many cases of verbal racist abuse in Finland the perpetrators always appear drunk or under the influence of a substance of some kind. The fact that the racist in this case was sober is a cause for concern because it seems to be an indication that Finnish racists are becoming bolder. They no longer seek courage from alcohol and other intoxicants.

Props to the Kenyan woman involved in the incident for rising above the dirt thrown at her. She handled the situation gracefully. She didn't descend to the inhumane level of the aggressor. She stayed calm and, according to Iltalehti, she made a police report on the incident. But she made one mistake: she didn't video the abuser's face. Finnish police, I believe, will say the racist didn't break any laws in this case. This is where my disappointment comes in: had the racist Finnish woman's face been captured in the video she would have faced some sort of justice in the court of public opinion. Perhaps her employer or decent friends would have reined her in. But again - that's unlikely to happen in Finland. Now it feels like she got away with the most brazen verbal racist attack I've seen in Finland.

What has been dubbed the "Syrian refugee crisis" and the "influx of refugees" has tested European standards of humanity, and many Europeans - politicians and ordinary people alike - have failed the test woefully. The crisis has unmasked racism of scary proportions in many European countries, including Finland. 

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