JULIANNA BRANDT
finland

“For me equality means human rights.”

Q: What word would you use to describe yourself? – Brave

Q: what are things are you facing back home? – The reason I came here is that I thought I really can help to change the world through the training, to help spread information.

Q: when you hear the word hate speech what comes to mind? – People who are angry, because they need help also, but they don’t know what to do so they get angry and violent.

Q: Had there been a moment where you have felt confident to tackled hate speech? – Yeah because I think I am brave and sure of myself, there are many moments where I’ve felt I could tackle hate speech, especially when I hear racist comments in public and feel that I have the power to say something or act against it.

I’ve heard a lot of hate speech that is covered like a joke. It’s normalised and often it’s been transphobic comments or about people with disabilities. But there is a difference. People with different abilities face a different hate speech than racism and stuff like that, so people don’t realise it and don’t recognise the different forms types of hate speech. Especially transphobic, homophobic and racism is heard more, but there is also hate speech about mental health issues and stuff like that. They also normalise it and don’t realise they are doing hate speech.

One time I was at the university. We have a group meeting and there was a panel about Sami people and their rights, but then there was this professor, Sami herself and very clever. In the public situation she used the word tranny in the Finnish way that is a bad way to use against trans people, and I saw everyones reactions were very shocked, but no one did anything and people just passing it like an “opps” and stuff like that. But I felt I had to do something. I didn’t want her to be shamed in front of anyone, so after I went to see her and said I don’t want to blame you but I just want you to know that you used a bad word against trans people and it’s not ok. Did you recognise which word you used? And yes, she was very sorry and she immediately recognised and apologised to the panel in front of everyone in public. So, I made statement and it worked out well. I think I was very brave in this situation because I was the only one that spoke and to actually do something.

Many of my friends say you can go do something because they know I have the power, but when I think of a couple of years ago, I was so shy and I was not capable of actually doing something. It was just thinking in my head what I could do, but now I have the courage to actually act.

And it was very strange because it was at a university context so it was very strange to hear there transphobic comments.

Q: What skills and knowledge have you gained from being part of this training course? – What I’ve gained, are the tools for how to build up a training session and the courage to speak up in English. That’s a big thing for me because I use to be very, very shy to speak in English but I am so happy that in [the first training course in] Slovenia, I found a new side of myself. Tools and language skills.

Q: Why is this project important to you? – Because it comes in with a bigger plan I have in my mind. Hate speech is such a big thing these days, and it’s going very badly against many people and minorities.

But honestly, I think as a queer person and someone with cerebral palsy I often feel that as a person in the minority or the marginalised group, I don’t have enough big voice to speak up. I don’t see myself represented in the media and stuff like that, so this is one way to really shout out and say that we are here and that we are proud of ourselves.

Because I am a human with CP, people are always assuming that I am not capable of doing things. They think you always need help. This is my way of showing that I can do many things and that I am clever enough and that I have the right to do as much as other people.

Q: Have you learnt from other participants? – Yes, very much especially about racism. Because as a white person I have never experienced racism. From this project, I have heard stories and seen what it really feels like to have experienced racism. And I can have empathy and learn about those things. In our group there are a lot of trans people and non-binary and I am a cis woman so I don’t have that experience. So there are a lot of things to learn about and I think it’s really important to listen to those experiences and be empathic. I like that I can listen to those stories and I can really feel the same way as them from their stories.

Q: What does equality mean for you? – A big question, I usually connect with equality is human rights. For me equality means human rights. It doesn’t depend on your race, ethnicity, or age or anything like that. It’s about everyones’ right to be who they are. Equality isn’t something that someone is up and the other is down. People know that someone may have a special need but that doesn’t mean they are lower than you. To recognise that there are people with different needs and that’s ok.

Equality is on its way to creating the perfect world. I believe that someday it’s about to happen.

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