No room for racism and discrimination

This week is Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Week and today, March 21 is Anti-Racism Day which is inspired by the tragic day in 1960 when the authorities in South Africa carried out a mass killing of 69 peaceful anti-racist activists. This week, and especially today, action is taken around the world to stand up for non-discrimination, anti-racism, equality, and diversity.
The prevailing norms in our society continue to lead us to create negative images of different groups of people through assumptions. This creates and this is racism. It is therefore important to recognise these norms, to understand how harmful they are and to change your own behaviour and to intervene when you encounter discriminatory or racist behaviour.

So, what is racism?

According to the Finnish Red Cross racism is the practice of discriminating against groups of people based on their descent, ethnic origin, colour, nationality, culture, mother tongue or religion. It occurs at every level of our society, causing inequality and thereby harming our society as a whole. It is important to understand that racism in all its forms has a lasting impact on the individual's mood, mental health, and confidence in society, thereby affecting the functioning of our society as a whole.
The structural racism mentioned above is the racism that exists in our society's practices and institutions. It can appear, for example, in the challenges of getting a job or an apartment when a landlord or employer favours Finnish names. In addition to this, racism can be further divided into aggression and micro-aggression, depending on the nature of the act. Aggression is outright shouting, defamation, name-calling, telling racist jokes or stirring up prejudice on social media. In addition to this, racist aggression can also be purely physical violence.

Microaggressions, on the other hand, are acts where on the basis of a preconceived notion, an apparently harmless action is taken, but in the situation the act is racist. For example, the question "Where are you really from?" is based on the assumption that all Finns look alike. Microaggressions are dangerous because they are usually done by accident. This is why it is so important to educate oneself about the different forms of racism, so one does not reinforce the assumptions oneself.


Together against racism

Each of us should condemn racism and oppose its existence. Racism degenerates our society, makes individuals feel resented and prevents them from reaching their full potential. Work against racism must be done daily but especially this week is a time to reflect on our own prejudices, challenge assumptions and, above all, take a tough stance against racism. Together we can change assumptions and norms, but it will require action from all of us.
Let's say no to racism together.

Check out VYY’s Safer Space Policy on VYY’s website in the Guiding Documents page.
Read instructions on how to act when you encounter open racism (redcross.fi).