Antigypsyism has been a long-standing racial issue in Europe, dating back at least 700 years. The Romani people have been subjected to slavery, torture and more throughout history for one simple thing, a different culture.
Despite the worldwide push for anti-racism, encampments are set up to house Romani people, Romani children are being segregated in schools throughout Europe, people are being left without basic treatment, water, shelter and food, just for their ethnic background. It strikes me as odd that those same people who fight so hard for the rights of other races can turn a blind eye to such hatred that goes on daily.
Forced assimilation has meant a lot of Romani children have been denied access to their own culture. I remember growing up my Grandfather would remind us of the importance of fitting in with statements like, “You can’t let them know we’re Romani, they might hurt us”.
Due to the harsh treatment that he faced his whole life, he would do anything he could to make it so we didn’t have to go through the same, even if meant denying himself who he is. I have memories of arriving at campsites and being turned away by staff because they didn’t trust the colour of my grandfather’s skin. Searching around campsites in Europe trying to find somewhere that would allow us to stay. Denied service in restaurants because they don’t serve “Gypsies/Zigeuners”.
Despite this, we considered ourselves fortunate, because at least we had a form of acceptance other Romani people are not offered because of their darker skin. We accepted the ill-treatment of others because we knew standing up for ourselves would only lead to worse. For years, the name-calling I received, along with my family, became accepted as normal. I accepted that I would never fit in among the people in my hometown.
Sadly, this is the case for many of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. So then why is it, that those same people who will scream slurs and say Romani people are undeserving of life, trust or reproduction, will take our culture, claim it as fashion and provide no background story?
Gypsy style, gypsy soul, bohemianism, etc are still acceptable when they ripped it from a culture still facing constant hatred.
You can’t pick what you want from a society and criticise the remnants of what you left behind. The GRT community is a wonderful group with such a rich and diverse culture. Deserving of more than cheap festival mockery. Deserving rights, deserving a good standard of living, deserving access to and credit for a stolen culture.