Antiracism seeks to achieve a more equal society

Many of us met the concept of antiracism for the first time in 2021, when the Ministry of Justice, together with the Ombudsman for Equality, organised the  IamAntiracist campaign, the content of which was widely reflected in social media. Minister of Justice Anna Maja Henrikson justified the campaign by the fact that passive condemnation of racism is not enough to promote equality, but requires active measures.

Indeed, the Ministry of Justice's website states that antiracism is an active and conscious action against all forms of racism.  Anti-racist action aims to reduce ethnic discrimination, the impact of discriminatory practices and negative prejudices. The site states: “Increasing our own understanding of racism is at the heart of antiracism. Understanding and awareness will be increased through your own active activities. Antiracism requires active learning, giving of space, acting and listening. Everyone has an important role to play in promoting equality, even though not everyone experiences racism himself.”

Antiracist action is always aimed at reducing racism. The aim of the action is to achieve a comprehensive social change through specific active measures. Equality is promoted at all levels in society and an atmosphere is created in which inappropriate behaviour and discrimination are strongly addressed.

In recent years the concept of antiracism has been made known by the American writer and academic Ibrahim X. Kendi with his book How to be an antiracist. Mr Kendi's point of departure is that those who think that they are non-racist are often guilty of racism, because their passivity preserves a racist system which is, in principle, historic to withdraw. He said that positive promotion measures were needed to achieve real equality. Kendi also strongly criticised capitalism, which, since the 15th century, produced colonialism as a by-product, when European whites began to seek slaves from Africa, among other things. Later, scientific justification was created in this place, including through Carl von Linne’s Racial Theories (Kendi).

In Finland, the legislator has awakened from critical racial theory and other theories of the last century to a new mainstream opinion in the 2010s. The most obvious evidence of this is the Non-Discrimination Act, adopted in 2014, which aims to promote equality, prevent discrimination and enhance legal protection for victims of discrimination. The law contains obligations for the authorities, the employer and the organiser of education to promote equality in all their activities. Compliance with the law is supervised as an authority by the Ombudsman for Equality.

Schools have also been awakened around themes related to racism. Anti-racist education refers to pedagogical discology and academic and political activities. As an educational discourse, it is a way to question the dominance of school and society, to look at the phenomena of positions in different social groups, and to understand the importance of personal experience as a source of information. The training of antiracists calls into question racial hierarchical structures and their consequences. It seeks to understand, reveal and deconstruct the macro-level basis of racism and at the same time to find ways of resisting daily racist practices. Antiracism is not just a reaction to racism. Its aim is to dismantle structures that reproduce individual racist cases. (Alemanji 2018, 1-11.)

The Student Union of the University of Turku has also stated in a line paper approved by the Student Union Council in 2022 that it will operate on the basis of anti-racist and feminist principles. This year, the recording of line paper is best translated into campaigning for the week against racism, but in all its activities, TYY strives for non-discrimination and accountability. However, each student also has a responsibility to dismantle racist structures and achieve an equal society. The eradication of racism can be achieved by giving space and by tackling discrimination in everyday situations when faced with it. And also by getting more information and listening to the different stories that our community members have to tell.

Jimi Salonen, board member of the Student Union

Monika Keisala, chair of the Equality Wing