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Roma

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The Romani, also known as Romany, Roma, Rom, "Gypsies," Manouche, or Tsigane, are an ethnic group primarily found in Europe. Romani, an Indo-Aryan language, is their traditional mother tongue.

The Romani are a frequent target of racism. About a million Roma perished in the Holocaust; a greater proportion of Europe's Romani were killed than Europe's Jews, and the Romani were totally wiped out in several countries.[1] Romani were also targeted in communist countries for forced sterilization to lower their birthrate.[2] Racism against the Roma people is sometimes called "antiziganismWikipedia's W.svg" (from the German Zigeuner, literally meaning "Gypsy"), but the term has been criticised because it incorporates an anti-Roma slur.

Terminology[edit]

The proper name for this people is "Romani." Most people know them as "gypsies." "Gypsy" is derived from "Egypt," based on a misnomer that came from the 16th century, when it was incorrectly thought that the Romani originated in Egypt; hence many Romani consider the term "gypsy" to be derogatory. Linguistic and genetic evidence suggests that the Romani migrated away from northern or northwest India around 1,500 years ago.[2][3]

These people were "Untouchables" in India, but were promised a higher caste by a local ruler in exchange for fighting for him. He did not raise their caste though, and so they began to migrate throughout Asia.[citation needed]

The term can also be confusing, since other travelling communities are often referred to as "gypsies" (with or without a capital letter), including Irish Travellers (also 'pavees', or pejoratively known as 'pikeys' or 'tinkers'[4], most of whom are not ethnically Romani) and sometimes "New Age travellers" (including hippies and other drop-outs from mainstream white society[5]). These communities also often suffer prejudice and economic disadvantage despite their different origins.[6]

Traditions and stereotypes[edit]

Romani communities have often been nomadic, living on the road in caravans — conventionally horse-drawn wooden wagons, which can still be seen in parts of Eastern Europe, or else modern mobile homes — and moving their camp from place to place, providing seasonal migrant labour and cash-in-hand work, as well as itinerant trades such as mending household goods, selling various crafts, horse trading, and fortune-telling. They are also widely associated with petty crime, and this has often been used as an excuse to justify persecution or expulsion of Romani. The popular image of Romani as rambunctious and superstitious travelling folk is ingrained in Western popular culture, especially the common portrayal of female Romani fortune-tellers, and small children who turn out to be expert pickpockets. Contemporarily, however, said stereotypes have changed somewhat, including to live off collecting scrap, a lack of desire to be helped by social services and/or to send their children to school, to take justice into their own hands, and in general to integrate and merge, weddings included, with non-Roma people.[notes 1].

In November 2016 Clackamas County Sheriffs Office in Oregon received complaints for hosting a class titled "Without Mercy: Criminal Gypsies/Travelers & the Elderly," taught by retired detective Gary Nolte, with "FACT"s like,

FACT: Criminal gypsies/travelers make an estimated $17B/annually and don't pay taxes.
FACT: The victims are the elderly 97% of the time.
FACT: The Pacific Northwest is remarkably close to a large Traveler base.
FACT: There are 5 major clans in North America, not just one.
FACT: The criminal Travelers/Gypsies have targeted the Pacific Northwest for decades.
Nolte has consulted police departments across the country. According to Megan Ahern leader of Lolo Diklo: Romani Against Racism, the stereotypes perpetuated are so bad that, "the only time it is safe to be 'gypsy' is on Halloween". [7]

Some Romani communities follow a traditional belief system which is loosely derived from Hinduism and so dates back to the Romani's origins in India. Other Romani communities tend to be either Christian or Islamic, owing to European or Middle Eastern cultural influences.

Romani refer to their own language as "Romanes" or "Romani Chib," which means "the Romani language."[8] Today, there are about 3-5 million speakers of the Romani language in eastern and central Europe.

Anti-Ziganism[edit]

2016 Bulgarian Anti-Roma Protests[edit]

In 2016, a Bulgarian was run over by a relative of an alleged Roma crime boss. In response, over 2000 people in many cities in Bulgaria went to the streets to protest against the Roma and the criminal activity which they as a whole supposedly engaged in, with some chanting slogans like "Gypsies into glue!"[9][10][11] Of course, the fact that protestors focused on the Roma is ironic, given that the Bulgarian mafiaWikipedia's W.svg is very much a thing. According to the president of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, "Every town in Bulgaria has local crime bosses, be they Roma or ethnic Bulgarian[.] [...] The government has consistently failed to prosecute them."[11] Anti-criminal protests would have made sense. But protests exclusively aimed at Roma, giving non-Roma criminals a free pass? Not so much.

Famous people of Roma descent[edit]

  • Django Reinhardt: "Gypsy jazz" guitar virtuoso.
  • Charlie Chaplin: Silent film pioneer.[citation needed]
  • Eugene Hütz: Punk musician.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. It does not help either the presence of organized groups that use children, elderly, and/or disabled people — or simply pretend to be the latter — as beggars.

References[edit]