Oivvio Polite, journalist.
– I think that not seeing themselves reflected in society affects people very deeply. At least it affected me, as I child I was never comfortable with the way I looked. When I was 19, I moved to New York, and it was bewildering to walk around and not feel different. It was the first time I felt that “This is a completely OK way to look, there is nothing strange or wrong with it”.
– When I began working as a journalist I signed a freelance contract with Expressen, for whom I could in principle write as much as I wanted to. At that time it was possible to obtain a subsidy in order to start your own firm, so I went to the unemployment agency to apply for it. I met the handling officer, and after having explained my situation for 30 min, he said “You know, journalism is a very tough career, many people want to work with media. You may be should consider working with something else, and have journalism as a hobby. You could, for example, work as a subway clerk.”
Mahnaz Razavi, physiotherapist.
– When you read newspapers or watch TV you get a negative image of immigrants, it is something you read between lines. A crime committed by an immigrant leaves deeper traces.
– I had already finished my education when I arrived to Sweden, but I felt that I had to work twice as hard and to be twice as smart and capable in order to obtain the same type of job, or merely be seen. There was a certain disbelieve over whether an education from a foreign country was good enough. Now that I have been working for many years and have earned a reputation, it is different.
Bashkim Neziraj, actor.
– In castings where they are looking for a “Robert”, a problem arises when I, Bashkim, come. There are certain expectations on how he must look, and I have to perform much better than the others in order to get the part. I believe that in today’s society this should not matter.
– I used to work as a telemarketer. As soon I said my name it was evident I was perceived as a threat because of my “strange” name. As an experiment I began saying my name was “Johan Olsson”, a typical Swedish name, and suddenly there was a completely different tone in the conversation, another type of politeness.
Esabelle Dingizian, member of the Swedish parliament.
– The image that appears in the media is not untrue for the specific person or family depicted, the problem appears when media ONLY shows THAT image. All the time it is about the weak, welfare abuser, poor, miserable immigrant. They never show how other people with dark hair have it.
– This categorization has very negative effects. Almost every week you are treated as a stereotype. It happens when you are in a situation where you are not expected to be. For example, in a conference I was standing in front a coffee machine feeling very tired. I was staring at the buttons when a waitress came and showed me how I had to put the coffee cup on the small tray, choose the type of coffee, and finally press the button. She just assumed that I did not how to use the coffee machine!!
Gabriel Garber, economist.
– I do not follow Swedish media so much. I watch some TV, but that’s about it. I am not so interested in following what happens here, but my impression is that Swedish media show a good deal of consideration to immigrants.
– I have been living in Sweden for 10 years, and I have never felt discriminated. However, I am aware that I am in a very comfortable situation. I have a good job and I always have the possibility to move somewhere else if I wanted to, not everyone is under these conditions. I think that Sweden is an easy land to live in. I do not speak fluent Swedish, but with English one goes a long way. I have chosen to integrate into Swedish society only to a certain extent because I don’t want to cut my ties to the family and friends that remain in Argentina.
Agnieszka Kuczynska, architect.
– My Swedish is still not so good, and when I try to practice and use it, for example, shopping, I am not treated well. But if I switch to English, then I get a completely different service.
– There is this image that people coming from poorer countries automatically have lower education and social background. Therefore I think an immigrant will have difficulties in getting a job even if he/she has a good education.
Luis Lineo, radio profile and sex educator.
– Of course the media stereotypes affect my daily life. When I was younger, it was frustrating to get certain looks. It almost became my “mission” to counteract that image. I tried to be exaggeratedly polite because I felt that did not only represent myself, but also all other immigrants… A way to flush away this negative reputation is to say that I am Swedish. Sometimes even friends question me about it, “What the hell? You are not Swedish, who are you trying to fool?” But if I do not consider myself Swedish, my children will never be considered Swedish either and therefore never become part of the norm.
– In an internship at the public Swedish radio, which later turned into a job, we were three guys with foreign background. In our first day, we went to the cafeteria for lunch, which typically enough is run by Syrians. After a while, one of my friends needed salt, so he walked to a table where two middle-aged women were sitting. He bended over and said “Excuse me, may I…” and the two women handed him their trays… For them, he could not be a colleague; he must have been working there! I don’t think that these two women were consciously racists; it was more of a reflex. The worst is that it would not be the only time something like that happened there.