We don’t know each other. That’s why we are here. In a shopping mall, in the darkening 
afternoon of an early winter day, in Vantaa. Tea gets cold in the cup.

The woman is the same age as I am. I tell her about my preconceptions that I don’t want to transfer forward, about the attitudes that were handed off throug generations without questioning them. She knows them in her skin. She knows how it feels to lie to her own child, to tell her at a grocery store that the guards follow only because they like us so much.

Finland has gained good reputation in stability, equality, safety and even happiness. As foster childs of this same society, as seemingly equal citizens of it, there is still a 500 years old psychical ravine hanging between us.

Finnish Roma have been stigmatized and discriminated for the whole 500 years of the history that they have existed in this land we now call Finland. Generations after generations have grown up to face different shapes of humiliation. Robbers and thieves, troublemakers; this is the only story I remember was ever told of them.

In 1917, when Finland got independent, Finnish Roma were given full citizenship. Though the 10 000 people minority has left their vagabond lifestyle decades ago and is living as whoever Finns, the lack of interaction between people still allows all the preconceptions continue spreading.

Why do we so rarely sit on the same table? Why don’t we get to know each other?

(This is an ongoing project, Published in Suomen Kuvalehti)

© Saara Mansikkamäki 2020