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Campaign launched to highlight 'everyday racism' against Sami people

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Campaign launched to highlight 'everyday racism' against Sami people
The Sami flag. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix/TT
17:18 CEST+02:00
A new campaign has been launched in Sweden designed to highlight the "everyday racism" (vardagsrasism) faced by Sami people in the country.

Sami language broadcasters Sameradion and SVT Sápmi have started the three-day campaign encouraging people with a Sami background to share racism they have experienced both online and in person.

The stories can be shared through a series of social media hashtags in Swedish (#vardagsrasismmotmigsomsame), Northern Sami (#árgarasismamuvuostásápmelažžan) and Southern Sami (#aarkerasismamovvööstesaemine). Translated to English, the hashtag would be #everydayracismtowardssami”.

"Everyday racism is racism that happens every day. It could be for example if a Sami person is called a 'Lapp', a word that we don't use about ourselves," the project's head Katarina Hällgren explained to The Local.

"It can be contesting Sami-ness, questioning studying in Sami language at school, taunts at school, at work, in free time. Things a person in the majority says that they don't think are problematic, but leave the person subjected to them feeling uneasy. In many cases this is done through ignorance and through reproducing stereotypes."

Sami Parliament member Oscar Sedholm, who has written about the discrimination faced by Sami people, told The Local he is both positive about the campaign and sceptical about its potential to be abused.

"It's good because it encourages people to come forwards with their stories. Bad, because there are few things that people enjoy as much as questioning other people's stories," he said.

"I clearly see the risk of hijacking, especially from the extreme right which has a strong online presence, far beyond what we as a minority group can organize," he added.

Most of the stories marked with the hashtag on Twitter so far appear to be using the tag as intended however. Examples include:

"In Stockholm, wearing kolt (traditional Sami dress), someone does a fake joik behind my back: 'are you looking for reindeer?', 'you've come to the wrong place!' #vardagsrasismmotmigsomsame."

"All the times I chose not to say that I'm Sami to avoid all the questions. #vardagsrasismmotmigsomsame."

Some instances of the hashtag being abused can be found however, including one person writing:

"Is it the anti-white trash movie 'Sami Blood' which led Sami people to believe that they are experiencing some kind of oppression today? #vardagsrasismmotmigsomsame."

The comment was in reference to internationally acclaimed movie Sami Blood, which tells the story of discrimination faced by Sami people in Sweden from the 1930s until the modern age.

READ ALSO: ‘Why is what happened to the Sami in Sweden not common knowledge?'

According to Sami Parliament member Sedholm that is part of the risk of putting tales of discrimination towards Sami out in the digital domain.

"We need to have more Sami stories out there, encouraging the everyday Swede to take part in our experiences and see us as a clear part of Swedish society, yet it comes with risks. Many Sami are frightened about the possibility of the fascistic Sweden Democrats getting more influence in Swedish politics as well. So I am positive, yet wary and watchful."

Along with the critical praise showered on Sami Blood, the recent success of TV series Midnight Sun, which features several lead cast members of Sami descent, has helped spark a debate in 2017 about how the Sami people have been treated in Sweden.

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