Saturday, 6 June 2009

Swedish National Day

On this 6th of June, Sweden's National Day, there's been a lot of discussion in blogs and on TV about integration and rasism. TV4, a television station has been showing a trailer as part of their "nollrasism" (zero racism) campaign. The trailer shows a tennis game between a fat, older, white man and a fit, younger, black man. Even though the black guy keeps winning the balls, the referee continuously gives the point to the white one. The white man, Svensson, wins the game and at the end of the scene it is written across the screen "in real life it isn't a game".

I like the trailer, and I think any black or foreign-looking person in Sweden can understand it as it depicts our reality. Most of the time we are judged before we've had the opportunity to achieve, even if the person we are up against is not as competent. However, whilst googling the trailer I found a few people criticising it. I'm always open to hear other's opinions so I read one criticism. To my disappointment, the person criticising it has nothing sensible to say, but rather claims that the only message it gives is that Swedes are fat and useless and always discriminate against foreigners. As mentioned, for anyone who has experienced racism, the message is very clear: it is NOT that all Swedes are incompetent and racist, it is simply showing how foreigners are often discriminated against, even when they are clearly more competent better at the job, as you can assume a fit, young man would be than a fat older man at playing tennis.

After being here a few months it is sad to see that nothing has really changed. I doubt the children growing up today are growing up in a more tolerant, less ignorant society than I did nearly thirty years ago. Clearly, I'm not the only one who feels this way as my friends in inter-racial relationships are looking to move to other countries so that their children won't grow up in the same environment they did.

This is a complete digression from what I wanted to talk about, but it is a more important topic. I have been meaning to write about being black in Sweden, but there's too much to say and it's too exhausting to think about that it's often easier to not think of it.

I wanted to talk about the National Day, but now I've completely lost my track. :)
In the early nineties, racism and nazism became a fashion with skinheads seen all over the place, foreigners being beaten up and murdered and refugee camps and mosques burnt down. At the time skinheads claimed the Swedish flag and the celebration of being Swedish. As a result for many years it was considered taboo to display the Swedish flag as it meant you were a racist. Sweden has worked hard to reclaim the flag and by making 6th June a National holiday in 2005, the government has tried to encourage national celebrations and pride in being Swedish. But on the news this morning a survey showed that only 40% of Swedes intend to celebrate, with many of those celebrations quite dubious, e.g. "it's my wedding anniversary so we're celebrating" or "I'm preparing a hen night for my best friend".

I didn't have any plans at all and since the weather's been awful (minus 3 in the night!), I think I'll just stay in with a few cups of hot tea. Happy National Day!


Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Hi Maya Mame!
Racism is a more important topic indeed! I think it'd be very interesting to learn more about "friends in inter-racial relationships are looking to move to other countries so that their children won't grow up in the same environment they did." So please reconsided looking into it for us.

It is indeed a serious issue for a country like Sweden which talk about "nollrasism"...

Maya Mame said...

Will do Kajsa, I can see how it would be of interest to you. ;)

Just need to catch up on some sleep if the little lady will let me...

Yngvild said...

Interesting post, Maya! I would love to hear more about "being black in Sweden". Norway and Sweden shouldnt be so different though I never get to feel it personally.
I hope you Swedes learn from us Norwegians soon though, claim the flag back - the national day is for all who live in the country :-)

The Bookaholic said...

Thats so nice and patriotic...


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