NYT: "Sweden`s Closet Racists"
April 21, 2013, 09:17 PM
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You can't make this stuff up. From the New York Times this weekend:NYT: "Sweden's Closet Racists"

Sweden’s Closet Racists 

By JONAS HASSEN KHEMIRI 

Published: April 20, 2013

WELCOME to my body. Make yourself at home. From now on, we share skin, spine and nervous system. Here are our legs, which always want to run when we see a police car. Here are our hands, which always clench into fists when we hear politicians talk about the need for stronger borders, more internal ID checks, faster deportation of people without papers. 

And these are our fingers, which recently wrote a very public letter to Sweden’s justice minister, Beatrice Ask, after she went on the radio to defend racial profiling of passengers on Stockholm’s subway. 

On March 7, the minister told a nationwide audience: “One’s experience of ‘why someone has questioned me’ can of course be very subjective,” suggesting that racially profiled subway passengers were overreacting and that their anger was irrational. Without missing a beat, she continued, “There are some who have been previously convicted and feel that they are always questioned, even though you can’t tell by looking at a person that they have committed a crime.” 

It was an interesting choice of words — “previously convicted.” Because that’s exactly what we are. All of us who are guilty until proved innocent. We Swedes who do not fit the outdated blond, blue-eyed stereotype of what a true Swede should look like. We whose personal experience makes us doubt our country’s international reputation of being a paradise, with equal opportunities for everyone. 

We remember the shame and the slights. 

Being 6 years old and walking toward passport control with Dad, who has sweaty hands, who clears his throat, who fixes his hair and shines up his shoes on the backs of his knees. All the pink-colored people are let by. But our dad is stopped. And we think, maybe it was by chance, until we see the same scene repeated year after year. 

Being 7 and starting school and being told about society by a dad who was terrified even then that his outsiderness would be inherited by his children. He says, “When you look like we do, you must always be a thousand times better than everyone else if you don’t want to be refused.” 

Being 8 and deciding to become the class’s most studious nerd, the world’s biggest brown-noser. 

Being 9 and watching action films where dark men rape and kidnap, manipulate and lie, steal and abuse. 


And so forth and so on.