Following massive demonstrations in the US and across Europe, the Swedish government intends to combat so-called “structural racism” and Afrophobia in the country.
In order to accomplish that, the government is now urging county administrative boards to develop “measures against racism in the labour market”. This is intended to increase the knowledge of actors in the labour market and “limit norms concerning skin colour” with a particular focus on alleged discrimination of people of African descent.
“In Sweden, Afro-Swedes need a postgraduate education to have the same income as a person of another population with a three-year education after high school”, Minister of Gender Equality Åsa Lindhagen said in a statement. “We need to highlight structural racism which many unknowingly maintain. Racism has no place in Sweden”, she assured.
The assignment covers all county administrative boards, with special focus on the metropolitan areas of Malmö, Stockholm, and Gothenburg. According to the government, the mission is fully within the framework of the national plan against racism, various forms of hostility, and hate crimes that have been the basis of the government's work in this area since 2016.
This comes amid Black Lives Matter protests held in numerous cities across Sweden and a general public outcry against perceived racism. Earlier this week, writer and activist Bilan Osman of the left-wing magazine Expo called Sweden a “stronghold of whiteness” and suggested that Sweden exported racism to the US.
“It was not American culture that gave the world the science of measuring skulls. It was not in the US that the progenitor of racism, Carl von Linné, was born . It was Sweden that together with Denmark, shipped hundreds of thousands of slaves across the Atlantic”, Osman wrote in her pro-BLM opinion piece in Expressen.
Osman rose to notoriety earlier this summer when she declared that she “cannot stand white people” and “feels contempt” for them. That post was deemed hateful by Facebook and was removed.
Bilan's recent article also sparked strong reactions.
“Sweden is the worst! Even worse than the US! How can you live in such a terrible, racist society? Why do you even move here, to hell on earth? If what Bilan Osman writes is true, people should not be fleeing here, they should flee away from here!”, Svenska Dagbladet lead writer Ivar Arpi tweeted, highlighting Sweden's generous immigration policy.
Sverige är sämst! Sverige är fan till och med sämre än USA! Hur kan man leva i ett så fruktansvärt, rasistiskt samhälle? Varför flyttar man ens hit, till helvetet på jorden? Om det Bilan Osman skriver stämmer borde inte folk fly hit, de borde fly härifrån!https://t.co/ddo553NCty— Ivar Arpi (@Ivarpi) June 30, 2020
“Most disgusting racist drivel today at its parade site in Expressen. Somalia is a stronghold of Somalis. India's Indians' stronghold. Japan's a stronghold of Japanese. But in Sweden, the Swede is not allowed to be Swedish. Racist Bilan is just spitting in people's faces”, journalist and children's writer Katerina Janouch tweeted.
Äckligaste rasistsmörjan idag på paradplats i Expressen. Somalia somaliers högborg. Indien indiers högborg. Japan japanernas högborg. Men i Sverige får svensken inte vara svensk. Rasist-Bilan ska prompt spotta folk i ansiktet. #svpol #migpol pic.twitter.com/0tNNdOX0Ur— Katerina Janouch🐲🇸🇪✡️🇮🇱🇨🇿🐸 (@katjanouch) June 30, 2020
The Black Lives Matter movement originated in 2013 following the death of 17-year-old African American boy Trayvon Martin and came to the fore via protests against police brutality and racial discrimination. In recent weeks, the US and Europe have been swept by a wave of BLM protets following the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody. Demonstrations have often been accompanied by violent riots, arson, and looting.
Due to its immigration policy, Sweden has gone from one of Europe's most homogeneous countries to one of its most diverse in a matter of several decades. At the end of 2019, up to 2 million of Sweden's population of 10 million were foreign-born, national broadcaster SVT reported.