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OPINION: 'Swedish Lucia ad racism is shocking and hypocritical'

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OPINION: 'Swedish Lucia ad racism is shocking and hypocritical'
File photo of Lucia. Photo: Anna Hållams/TT
15:48 CET+01:00
Journalist Edinah Masanga writes about the online abuse suffered by a child featured in a Swedish Lucia advert.

There is something inherently wrong or, rather more aptly, hypocritical about Europeans fighting to continue a "cultural" event of celebrating Zwarte Piet while getting vehemently upset about a dark-skinned child representing St Lucia.

So in other words, it is okay to celebrate and keep alive slavery legacies by letting white people paint themselves black but it's not okay for a dark-skinned child to be dressed as a saint.

You know, I used to think it's racism per se, but then when I saw that Syrians, who have mostly light skin colour, are stereotyped as terrorists, I realized it wasn't just the colour issue in Europe, it's just the European superiority complex. The 'them' and 'us' attitude. We the superior Europeans and them the outsiders.

It does not matter how white a person can be, here in Europe, they have to have originated from here in order to be good enough.

This is my third year in Sweden and whenever I speak Swedish I mostly get the "du är jätteduktig" remark a lot. Not as a compliment but as an expression of surprise. It's as if I am not expected to speak good Swedish. It's partly because I'm black and mostly because I am a foreigner.

Being good is not expected of me. I sometimes sit with Swedish people who are less educated than me and have to argue about facts of my profession, which they know nothing about, but will argue for the sake of not wanting to admit that I could know some things which they don't. I mean, how could I, I'm an outsider. I'm from the inferior group.

One day I was out with my friends, one of them is a black woman who has been here in Sweden since she was three and we were doing something that is considered Swedish, and I noticed that my other white Swedish friends kept telling her or showing her how to do the thing that I expected that at 33, having grown up here in Sweden, there was no need to explain anything to her. But of course, even though she is Swedish, she is not really Swedish right?

The ridicule of that young boy who appeared in Åhléns' Lucia advert pained my heart. The loss of humanity in order to please one's superiority complex is appallingly painful to say the least. To mock and dehumanize a child all for their skin colour is both a symptom and a cause of the European superiority dogma. It is shocking, for a society that prides itself on civilization.

What happened to children being innocent, sweet and vulnerable creatures that deserve all of our love and protection? Even if people hated the idea of a dark-skinned saint, why mock and racially abuse such a beautiful little soul?

I found myself thinking, as I was reading The Local Sweden, as I do every morning, couldn't the racists just let it pass simply because it was a child? But I realized of course they could not because their superiority had been threatened, their purity had been tarnished.

I know that people will say "but not everyone is like that", and that there were more Facebook 'likes' of love on the picture, but that is exactly the problem: it shouldn't be commended that there were more likes, because the child wasn't there for a 'being liked' contest, he was there as a symbol of a tradition which is celebrated by all children in Sweden, including children like him.

Europeans can and should do better. Don't stoop so low as to attack children, of all the sad things that you could do.

Edinah Masanga is a Zimbabwean journalist living in Sweden. Follow her on Twitter or read her blog here.


Edith Masanga. Photo: Private

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