A few weeks ago, rice maker Uncle Ben’s announced it would remove the face of a dark-skinned farmer from its products. The company wanted to renew its brand following a debate sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement that left the United States.
Read more: The face of a dark-skinned man out of a rice package - Uncle Ben's, familiar to Finns, worried about his brand
Many other companies have also set out to renew their brand. In Finland, Valio said that he would remove a man with a Turkish national head fetish on his head from the packaging of Turkish yoghurt.
Read more: Valio intends to remove fets from Turkish yogurt packaging
Last week, U.S. ice cream maker Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, which makes Eskimo ice creams, announced plans to change its brand name, Eskimo Pie, due to the inappropriate term for the Eskimo term.
Anna Rastas, a racist researcher at the University of Tampere, sees several reasons for the phenomenon.
- This is simply the time now. There is no single explanation for this, but one reason is the public debate sparked by the media.
According to Rasta, global movement has also contributed to the phenomenon.
- This movement has been around for a long time and now the debate has increased, thanks in part to this debate sparked by the Black Life Matters movement.
According to Rasta, the anti-racism debate in Finland is also fueled by demographic change.
- When there have been fewer people belonging to certain minorities in Finland, it has been much more difficult for them to talk about their own rights. It has been easier to silence them, but now it is no longer so.
- We have grown such a generation of Finns who are personally affected by these issues and who, however, have the ability to participate in the social debate like others. And fortunately so.
According to the researcher, the discussion will spark more discussion.
- As the number of people belonging to minorities increases, so does the solidarity, ie as the debate increases for one group, it will be easier for others to talk about their rights. In the same way, for example, the rights of the Sámi are now talked about differently.
- A white Finn belonging to the general population cannot fail to notice and reflect on these things. The pressure comes from many quarters.
Last week, Fazer said it was considering changing the name of Geisha chocolate. Fazer was told by IS that feedback on the name has come for and against.
Read more: The conversation about changing the name of Geisha chocolate was in turmoil
The researcher recalls that the uproar is not just a single name or picture.
- There are people in Finland who are offended. It cannot be viewed as whether it is a single thing or an image, but as a continuum of how to present a culture and group of people that are thought to be alien.
Rastas sees that companies are now under pressure to change things.
- Some companies are afraid of losing customers if, for example, the brand is changed. But at some point that direction will change. Now companies really have to weigh what their position is on these things.
According to the researcher, public debate may have an even bigger impact on anti-racism culture.
- After all, these changes will not come in one go. No racism will disappear from this world anywhere in my lifetime, but this direction is right. These changes are concrete, which means that we are not just discussing, we are ready to change, Rastas says.