This year has been one of strong turbulence, and it has forced us to face the deepest vulnerabilities and recognise the severest flaws of our societies. The #BlackLivesMatter movement and the subsequent protests following yet another killing of a man targeted for the colour of his skin have shaken us all, also here in Europe, both on a personal level as well as an organisation. We realise that we are late to the cause with this statement, which does not reflect our stand in the matter. Rather, we wanted to take a step back, and critically consider our role as a cultural institution.
In recent years we have put much thought to our annual themes and programming, advocating equality and diversity on different levels. As a white organisation working internationally and especially between the Benelux countries and Finland, we want to openly acknowledge our own part in a flawed and problematic societal structure. We equally realise that such internal work is never done, and we will continuously work with critical self-reflection regarding our position of power as a culture organisation. We are learning and unlearning, through reading and researching, and digging deeper into the histories of our countries of operation. We must evaluate our own practices and organisation, and make plans on how to keep ourselves accountable for the needed change in the coming weeks, months and years.
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux is committed to grow, and to strive towards more equal partnerships, projects and processes. It is our responsibility to stand united and support Black and minority voices. We will evaluate and improve our internal operations in terms of diversity, equality and anti-racist work, which are already included in our strategy, work regulations and equality plan (in Finnish: tasa-arvo ja yhdenvertaisuussuunnitelma). We commit to hold ourselves accountable in the fight against structural racism, not only by listening to criticism, but also by implementing necessary changes into our programme and operations.
This is only the very start of our journey, and we have a long road of learning and evolving ahead. We are grateful for those that have called the world to action, and we aim to follow that call with love, support, and engagement.
With love and humility,
For more on what you can do in your anti-racist commitment, see for example this useful list of resources compiled by Kiia Beilinson and Miia Laine: cutt.ly/antirasismi – and its equivalent for resources in English compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES or this compilation in Dutch: https://www.withuiswerk.nl/