This article was published in the magazine Maailman Kuvalehti. This is the English version.
My skin is black. Therefore, it is broken down by society into stereotypes that I live daily. I have experienced racism in varied degrees and in different countries.
I remember when I travelled to Saint Petersburg, Russia, years ago, by road from Finland. I was the only one (it was a group of us) detained by Russian immigration officers. They reviewed my passport carefully and asked me, ” Why were you in Brazil, Panama, USA, etc?”. “What was the reason for your trip to these countries?”. They went on and on for over 20 minutes before permitting me to enter the country. No explanation absolutely, was given to me.
Another racist incident happened in 2018, at a supermarket in Helsinki while shopping with a friend from Irak. A man passed by us and said: “It smells like shit”.
As a black woman, I live double or triple discrimination because of my skin colour, being a woman, or an immigrant. However, I am not giving up on this fight because I know there is a new generation that will continue it.
One of those young people is my nephew, Sydney, who is an intelligent 12 year old in 7th grade, and lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. He is one of the many black boys and men in the United States of America who is a target by the racist system.
One day, while riding with his dad, they were pulled over by the police. When he got home, he told his mom about the incident and the way he acted. “I put my hands on the car dashboard so it can be visible”, he said.
Previous to this occurrence he had watched the movie “The Hate U Give” with his parents at which time he learned that his hands need to be visible; so that is what he did that night.
This past summer the Black Lives Matter campaign was held in several countries, globally. I participated in the one organized in Helsinki, Finland, with my friend from Kenia. I got skin chill when I arrived at the Senator Square, saw and heard the thousands of voices shouting slogans like Black lives matter, I can’t breathe, etc.
This protest was held during the pandemic and as result, most of us participants took the necessary precautions. When the manifestation was over, I saw a sign that read: Racism = longest-running pandemic. Yes, it is because black people’s rights had been violated and minorized over centuries. This is not a new incident.
Many brave women and men before me and my nephew have also lived racisms, some even experienced worse situations than those today. They are our heroines and heroes.
Sydney is aware of his skin colour and that the dramatic incident he went through can be repeated someday. I am also aware of this. Nevertheless, I am proud to be a black woman. I don’t like people to call me brown, chocolate, blackish, or woman of colour. I prefer to be called a black woman, just who I am. So please don’t try to wash away the colour of my skin that talks.