Knives stab at my heart as I write this.
I’m holding back tears.
We mean nothing to people.
Let me expand.
I was in chorus today, and the conductor, a white southern woman, was trying to get us to sound like “large, black women”. She couldn’t get us to, mostly because 90% of the chorus is white, so she went on to say that we needed to get into character. She said, “Like, when I’m singing gypsy music, I imagine myself with long, black hair and a mystery…” I spoke to her after, saying politely, “I don’t know if you were aware, but gypsy is actually a racial slur. We prefer to be called Rromani.” She smiled this eerie, Stepford Wife smile and said, “Well, it’s not really a racial slur, is it? I know European gypsies and they call themselves that…” I paused, slightly annoyed that she wasn’t apologizing. I continued, “Well, we’re an ethnic minority, so it is a slur. And not all of us are okay with that word.” “Well, you can’t speak for all gypsies, can you? Besides, I don’t use the word often, just to describe music.” At this point, I was actually furious, but I hid it well. She went on, “Anyway, you’re Romanian gypsy?” I blinked. “Rromani. Not Romanian.” “When did your family get here?” “Right at the start of the Holocaust.” “Oh. Well, when I was in Romania, we actually had to stay inside at night because of the gypsies. Anyway, it’s not just the group of people, it’s the lifestyle.” I was choking back tears. “I mean, when did this start? It’s a new thing, right? Gypsy was always used. That’s why I use it to describe the music. You can’t rewrite history.” “I have to go to class now.” “Okay. It’s good that you’re making people aware. I didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just accurate.”
The thing that irked me the most was her comment about historical accuracy. Does she know what black people were called historically? Asian people? Hell, even Irish and Italian people were called by awful names, and guess what, most people acknowledge that they’re awful and don’t use them anymore. It’s almost as though “gypsy” is the last “acceptable” slur to use in society. (I’m not implying that many people aka racists don’t use these other slurs, I’m merely pointing out that it’s not considered socially acceptable to do so by most people.)
I honestly can’t believe she had the nerve to try and discount my entire ethnicity and culture, and even to correct me, to make me be the ignorant one.
“You can’t rewrite history”
No, you can’t.
That’s why the word is, and always has been, a racial and ethnic slur.
This is true. A lot of it has to do with, I believe, the fact that Romani were largely uneducated compared to Jews, so they didn’t have as many written records.
It isn’t even that.
Roma and Sinte were treated literally like animals. Many of them weren’t bothered to be rounded up and sent to camps - they were exterminated on the spot. They were kept outside without shelter, water, or food - in fields often adjacent to other barracks where many died from infectious disease, starvation, or exposure.
Because Roma and Sinte were still largely nomadic at this point, most did not have birth certificates or official ID cards. They did not have permanent addresses. In short, they didn’t officially exist and no one bothered to ask them their names before they were killed.
Almost the entire population of Roma and Sinte in Europe were killed.
Not 1/3 or 1/4 … but ALMOST ALL OF THEM.
Survivors didn’t (and still don’t) want to talk about the unspeakable horrors they witnessed and no one seems to be talking on their behalf.
Just look at what happened in Germany with a) the memorial and b) the Roma refugee camp that was torn down the very DAY they opened the memorial.
It is true that Roma (and Sinte) history was largely oral history, it still isn’t a lack of education that brews this silence.
We’re the forgotten victims. As the quote in my post shows, even Jews despised us at the time and willingly sent us ahead of themselves.
No Roma and Sinte were saved in heroic acts that I’ve been able to find - bar the 200 in Sabile by the mayor of the town - none were hidden, none smuggled, none freed by compassion. No one wants to talk about this, most of all it seems, the Roma and Sinte themselves. There are a few written accounts - mostly penned many years after the events took place…
but they are not well known…
… and why do people STILL ignore us when they talk about the Holocaust?
I’m tired of so-called social justice bloggers who claim that a “real Gypsy” wouldn’t do x or y and they know because they are one!!!
So, tell me why then, when I look at your blogs they’re all hippie shit that has no relevance to our way of life, our culture, our language?
Tell me why I don’t see news reports of the devastating events currently happening in Europe?
Tell me why I don’t see the fruits of your work with Roma, Traveller, and related groups?
Tell me why I don’t see you posting petitions and letters to European governments?
Oh, you want to shit on a picture I made stating that my culture is not a costume?
You think that no real Gypsy would care about this?
TELL ME THEN, WHAT THE FUCK DO REAL GYPSIES CARE ABOUT?
My blog is FILLED with news stories showing the horrendous truth of life for my people in Europe. It’s filled with petitions and letters and ways to support people. It’s filled with stories of discrimination and racism that I personally face.
Not people smoking weed.
Not hippie and boho bullshit.
REAL STORIES ABOUT REAL PEOPLE.
I write letters often in support of activists in Europe.
I am a member of an artists initiative website (khetanes) where we work with musicians, writers, painters, photographers to help dispel stereotypes and myths about Romani, partnering with universities, governmental organizations, and schools.
I am a board member of O Porrajmos Education Society - aimed at bringing education about the Romani Holocaust into schools and universities.
I am an avid supporter of the Domari Society of Jerusalem in their education programs for women.
Tell me, what the hell are you doing?
Don’t come at me with that bullshit. I spend hours every day scouring news stories, historical archives, working with fellow Romani, working on my MA which is rooted in my own people, being a mother, writing letters and articles.
Tell me, what the hell are you doing?
Reblogging photos of bullshit.
Throwing around the word Gypsy like that makes us believe you’re a “real” one. A real “Gypsy” would see that any effort is better than none at all. A real “Gypsy” would shudder at the sight of the word. A real “Gypsy” would know that we are NOT a culture and the exotification, sexualization, romanticization, and fetishization of our women is NOT something to simply let happen because “omg people have it worse in Europe”.
I am from Europe.
My family is STILL IN EUROPE.
If you’re so fucking concerned about “our” people, then go to the Czech Republic, go to Hungary, go to France AND FUCKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
All I hear is pathetic whining because I actually stood up and tried to DO SOMETHING.
Until you grow a steel vagina and stand up against the world and your people’s own patriarchy you can shut the fuck up.