African Anti-Racism Society Finland ry (AFARS) is a non-governmental organization founded in 2020 by a group of African activists and community organizers in Helsinki. AFARS inception stems from the massive black lives matter protests that erupted globally last summer. We were inspired and called to action by the death of George Floyd and global police brutality targeting Africans and people of African descent to speak about the same problems of daily racism, police brutality and institutional discrimination targeting the Sub-Sahara African community in Finland.

AFARS was formed to organize a solidarity demonstration on the death of George Floyd at the Helsinki police station and to establish a platform for anti-racism led by Sub-Sahara Africans in Finland. It was a call to action as we saw that the lived experience of racism by Africans and people of African descent in Finland is a voice that is needed at the table in the conversation about racism in Finland. As Finland and the world is changing with more diversity and representation in all sectors in Finnish society, it is more relevant now that we have some representation of the voices of Africans living in Finland. Also, we believe that more platforms and voices speaking against racism will help victims’ cope with the problem and may lead to eradication of racism. 

In Finland, Africans and people of African descent face racism from other peoples of color. On platforms where they speak about racism, Africans are often excluded by those groups led by people of color due to their own racism and afrophobia toward Sub-Sahara Africans. So, we think that we will be doing a disservice to ourselves if we don’t create own platform and a place that we Africans and people of African descent can share their own perspective and lived experience of racism in Finland.

In Finland, the voices speaking about racism are the voices of people of color, we understand and respect their perspective and experiences of racism. At the same time, we think that the perspective of Africans and people of African descent in Finland is also crucial to the discussion. So, it is important that we tell our own perspective in our own voice, it is time for Africans in Finland to tell their own story by themselves.

The reality is that people of a darker complexion and of a different background and culture face more racism and are victims of racism more often. The other peoples of color can be more easily accepted in society and can be seen by racist as less threatening. When the skin and appearance of a Sub-Sahara Africans get accepted in any society the other peoples of color will also benefit from that acceptance.

When the work and fight against racism is only from the experiences and perspective of other peoples of color, the outcome will mostly go only to help them. When Sub-Sahara Africans champion the work in fighting racism in Finland, the outcome will benefit all the other groups facing racism including all peoples of color. This is why we decided to start this new organization led by Sub-Sahara Africans to bring our perspective and solutions into the conversation about racism in Finland.