I came across this trailer for a documentary about a Swedish group called “The Panthers” (inspired by the Black Panthers, of course) and my mind was blown. Watch it, maybe five or ten times if you’d like, and then I’ll explain the background a little bit.
Sweden, Race, and the Suburbs
In the United States, historically, the “inner city” has been populated by poor people – immigrants or Blacks – and in the last 60 years, the suburbs have been primarily known as rich, white areas. In much of Europe, this is reversed – the inner cities are richer, whiter, and more politically powerful, and the poorer people are in the outlying suburbs. In particular, the people of color who have immigrated in large numbers to Europe since the end of World War Two live in these suburbs. (In the US we are now shifting to this pattern – our cities are being violently reshaped, with evictions and displacement of lower-income people, especially people of color, to the suburbs. Nowhere is this more evident than in the San Francisco Bay Area – a topic for a different blog post.)
It’s worth remembering that race is a social construct. It wasn’t so long ago in the US that Irish people weren’t considered white. Jews are thoroughly integrated into whiteness in America in a way that would astonish someone who lived just 60 or 70 years ago. While white supremacy is a global system, it’s going to look and act differently in each place. You can see that in Sweden, people who would read as white in the US are identified as Other. So if you watch that trailer again or watch the “do not treat us like animals” documentary (see below), keep in mind that almost anyone with a little bit of melanin is likely to have a history of racial oppression in Sweden.
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