In Sweden, our sense of righteousness prevents us from using the terms – common to Americans and Brits, perhaps – African Swedes, Asian Swedes and possibly Arab Swedes (although most of the Arab world is in fact Asian).
Instead, we use the word immigrant; first generation, second generation, third generation a.s.o.
You can never become a Swede in Sweden. Not unless your skin is white enough, your eyes not dark brown and your hair is not pitch black and/or not straight.
The is one of the most serious mistakes we’ve ever made. We have barred about a million people from ever having the right to feel at home in Sweden, to be Swedes and to be able to fully take part.
That righteousness bans us from referring to ethnicity to such a degree that we can barely report proper statistics to the EU and they have, though the ECRI – the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance – criticized Sweden on several occasions on this account. We’re not even allowed to register native tongue in government agency work but have to refer to it as interpreter language.
Why? Because the native tongue might give away ethnicity and identify a person’s place of birth, ethnicity, religion, political belief etc. This is actually part of our legislation on integrity.
Is this really such a bad thing? Shouldn’t we just ignore all background and see ourselves as just plain old human being?
Well… In an ideal world that would be just fine. The problem is, background does play a role. For better or for worse.