Part 4: About the history of racism in Finland

In part four, Senior Planning Officer and Doctor of Social Sciences Marko Stenroos presents the history of racism in Finland.

The idea of Finland as a country with a single language, culture, or ethnicity is a myth, because in reality, Finland has been a diverse country for centuries. Moreover, the linguistic and cultural minorities in Finland have endured racism and discrimination for centuries.

To promote equality, it is important to break down the Finnish myth and the white standard. The dismantling of the Finnish myth has an essential impact on the restructuring of social structures, and it also reduces structural racism in the society. Enabling social inclusion is one of the most crucial anti-racist efforts. 

Materials supporting learning

See the slideshow by Marko Stenroos (pdf 1,2 MB)

Key concepts:

  • social inclusion
  • linguistic and cultural minorities
  • historical burden
  • Finnish myth
  • white standard
  • tokenism
  • equality
  • whitewashing of history
  • indigenous people
  • forced assimilation
  • antisemitism
  • nationalism
  • critical whiteness studies

Read more about the key concepts.

Reflect on the following questions: 

  • Why is the myth about the essence of being Finnish so strong in our society?
  • How can we break down the Finnish myth?
  • What is social inclusion, and why is it important for the realisation of equality?
  • What and who are the old minorities?
  • What is the significance of historical burden?
  • Why do some believe that Finland is a racism-free country?