Photo Credit: TN
What It's Like To Be A Black Woman In Helsinki, Finland
The African diaspora is making huge waves in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, though we’d never truly know based off international representation. Community organizer Paloma shares all there is to know about living in Finland as an Afro-Finn and Afro-Dominican.
Paloma, a community organizer, event producer, bruja, activist & a collective member of Good Hair Day shares her story with Travel Noire.
1. What is your experience being Afro-Latina in Finland?
I feel like for many biracial children who grew up in two or more different countries, the experience of growing up in Finland wasn’t so easy.
Compared to the Dominican Republic, I’d say Finland would be the very opposite in most areas. Being able to find a community like Good Hair Day has helped a lot in discovering more about my identity and feeling a sense of belonging. Many Afro-Finns grow up feeling alone with their experiences in Finland – like there’s no one to talk to. That’s why when you meet people who can relate to you, you realize that we do need the support from our community.
I’ve met other Afro-Dominicans in Finland as well, and just being able to cook our national food together is something so valuable and brings joy to my heart.
I haven’t been able to travel to DR in almost 20 years, so just getting a piece of what reminds me of my other home is so important.
2. Could you tell us about your work with Good Hair Day collective in Finland?
Good Hair Day is an anti-racist collective of Afro-Finns who’s main goal is to celebrate Afro-Finnishness and Afro hair by providing a safer space for Afro-Finns to connect with each other.
Good Hair Day focuses on working through hope and joy and its best recognized yearly event held at the end of every summer is Good Hair Day Helsinki.
I first heard of Good Hair Day through a good friend of mine by volunteering at the event back in 2018. I had no idea what kind of wave of emotions I was about to go through that day. Just by entering a Black space where I felt like I wasn’t the only Afro-Finn in the room. After that, I just felt like I wanted to dive deeper and work more closely with the other collective members.
I loved the idea of uplifting us and making a safer space for us in Finland because there weren’t any. Even if it was just for the one-day event.
3. Do you think that Black representation in Finland is hidden?
I don’t think it’s completely hidden because there are so many amazing Afro-Finn artists, entrepreneurs, activists etc. who have been present here for years. I do feel like I see more black representation on TV, in books, out on the streets than I did when I was a child, which is great.
I grew up in a very small town where I barely saw any representation, so in 20 years things have progressed, but there is still so much more that can be done. Sure, representation is a good thing, but at the end of the day we also have to think who is producing those TV shows or who is behind those big companies making the decisions?
We need to give space to those who need it the most and to the ones who are the least visible.
4. What are your favorite Black spots or events in Finland?
Of course, I’d have to say Good Hair Day. But I will also list:
Ubuntu Film club – A collective who host movie screenings and hangouts for the community @ubuntufilmclub
Lloyd’s Café and Bakery – A cute café that sell amazing vegan desserts @lloyds_cafeandbakery
GIDI – An Afro-fusion restaurant in Helsinki that on some nights turns into an Afro beats nightclub @gidifinland.
Happy Waffle Helsinki – The best waffles in town with the best service @happywafflehki.
And these are just in the capital area. There are many many more amazing Black-owned businesses across Finland.