A$AP’s case may have been more cultural than racial, contrary to popular understanding. It was about a country prosecuting an American celebrity who assaulted a protected Swedish migrant within Swedish borders. Yes, globally darker complected individuals struggle in America as well internationally for fair treatment, in this particular case, Sweden was not prosecuting A$AP for the color of his skin. Instead, Sweden was trying to protect an individual who belongs to a much larger issue within the country.
Despite its global reputation as an accepting and open nation, Sweden is finding it difficult to adjust to its migrant population. Mustafa Panshiri, a former police officer in Sweden who now lectures on issues of integration, comments that the lack of integration between Sweden and its migrants is due to the fact that Sweden, a historically secular and individualistic country, is taking in immigrants from cultures who have different values. For instance, most of Sweden’s asylum seekers are from the Middle East or Northern Africa where community and organized religion are prioritized. The practices of these places are often hierarchical, based on tradition and religion, and at times they can oppressive and discriminatory against women and homosexuals. There is also the suggestion that many of the refugees are experiencing trauma and culture shock, and that there are many unaccompanied minors without the proper guidance and aid. Panshiri does not use these observations as an excuse for some migrant’s offensive and disruptive behavior, but he does suggest that the behaviors of incoming refugees and migrants do have cultural and psychological root causes–causes that he thinks could have been fielded by the Swedish government.
Panshiri wants to emphasize that while it is altruistic, opening borders without a proper plan for integration can only lead to unrest. There are those who don’t want to adjust to Swedish society and those who are struggling to adjust. However, for both parties, migration typically is chosen because of absolute necessity. Expulsion from a country does not mean a loss in culture, in fact, it encourages the opposite, reinforcing beliefs as a way to comfort those in traumatic circumstances. It would have beneficial for Sweden, whose “norms are expressed in understated ways,” to set a precedent for their new population so that both Swedes and refugees could learn from one another and adjust to their changing surroundings.
Sweden is an example of what happens when nations misunderstand migration and asylum as just a transfer of bodies and not an exchange of behaviors, language, customs, and expectations. For a brief moment, Sweden showed how imperative to approach migration in a more pluralistic way to avoid future headaches. It is understandable as to why American’s claim racial discrimination on A$AP Rocky’s case, but America could have taken note about cultural integration and how important it is to seek to understand and adjust to our immigrant population.