View on Romani and About Them

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View on Romani and About Them

Postby Koko » 2014-09-12, 8:03

Now, I'm going to say that any opinion I may have on them is purely through what I've heard. I have no connections with any communities (if any) they have in my city, because I have never met one. But I was looking for a video on YouTube to listen to Czech when spoken (I listened to Jozin z Bazin a while ago) to see if I like spoken Czech, and I ended up watching a clip from a game show. The contestant was asked questions for money, he had to answer honestly. The questions related to Gypsies and if he was racist towards them, basically. As it turns out, yes, he was. In the comments, people who weren't Czech were talking about how that's sad, some agreed with the contestants views. A couple Australians or New Zealanders (can't remember which) explained that the Gypsies they knew were kind and like them. Yet, apparently the ones from Czech are rude and/or cruel to the Czechs.

This made me wonder about the Gypsy communities and what the overall opinion on them is. Since, as I said, I have never met one, I can only sympathize for the Czechs judging by how the comments explain how they are treated by Gypsies.
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Varislintu » 2014-09-12, 8:41

Well, this is a bit of a beehive of a topic. It's intertwined very strongly with racism and discrimination.

Finnish Romani have traditionally also been viewed negatively. Mostly the prejudice is that they are thieves and overly loud. They also used to have this blood feud culture which sometimes led to them being mortally violent to each other, but not really towards "white" Finns (I'll use this term even if I don't think it sounds descriptive). I don't think it happened very often, but this was part of the image white Finns had of them. They've faced a lot of discrimination from white Finns, including the ususal forceful assimilation tactic of the state taking custody of their children so that they would learn proper white Finn lifestyles.

This is what Finnish Romani often look like nowadays. Boys and men always wear long, dark pants, and the women who choose to adopt traditional dress as adults dress in a big black velvet skirt and a very decorated, often brightly coloured blouse, and they let their hair grow long. Some, of course, dress more mainstream.

EDIT: Here's a comic I found. It says:
- They're walking around in a big group again!
- Really weird.
- They're staring again! I'm glad you came along, I feel safer in a group.
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Koko » 2014-09-12, 9:16

Varislintu wrote:Well, this is a bit of a beehive of a topic. It's intertwined very strongly with racism and discrimination.

I know, I was contemplating if I should bother making this thread, but my curiosity got the better of me.

Romani

This a better option for "gypsy"? If so, I feel bad for having written a whole post using the term I did :oops:

Wow, if so many have caused other people to hate them so, you'd think the Romani would've learned by now not to act as they have been. I'm sure there are some communities who get along well with their neighbours, but to those that act how I've heard them to, I must admit that I am quite glad I haven't met any now, for fear of stumbling upon one such group.

I have opened a sad thread :( But I find it interesting to learn about a race from a secondhand view and finding so many connections.

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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-09-12, 9:26

I don't mean to brag and have no intention of portraying myself as an expert, but I happen to know a thing or two about this subject; I've worked on the Romani language for years, with probably the world's most famous Romani professor no less, and I've grown pretty familiar with the sociocultural situation in the process as well. This topic means a lot to me, so I apologize in advance for getting somewhat emotional about it.

Before I say anything more on this, and while I don't mean to be intimidating or anything, I'd like to make reference to this post. I'm only doing that to point out that "Roma" or "Romani" would be a better choice of words here. I'm sure you didn't mean to cause offense, but "gypsy" with a lowercase "g" is especially offensive since the Romani people are an ethnicity, and the lowercase spelling falsely suggests that "gypsy" refers to a lifestyle instead.

EDIT: Oops, sorry, you already found out about that term. Still, worth pointing out just so you have more information. No hard feelings :)
Koko wrote:Now, I'm going to say that any opinion I may have on them is purely through what I've heard. I have no connections with any communities (if any) they have in my city, because I have never met one.

It's not unlikely that there are some in your city, but there's no way you would ever meet them anyway. Romani people throughout the Americas show a strong tendency to keep a low profile.
But I was looking for a video on YouTube to listen to Czech when spoken (I listened to Jozin z Bazin a while ago) to see if I like spoken Czech, and I ended up watching a clip from a game show. The contestant was asked questions for money, he had to answer honestly. The questions related to gypsies and if he was racist towards them, basically. As it turns out, yes, he was. In the comments, people who weren't Czech were talking about how that's sad, some agreed with the contestants views.

Unfortunately, this kind of reaction is quite common in Eastern Europe. There are reports of antiziganist hate crimes in the Czech Republic in international newspapers dating back at least twenty years. And that's only a tiny, tiny part of the story.
A couple Australians or New Zealanders (can't remember which) explained that the gypsies they knew were kind and like them. Yet, apparently the ones from Czech are rude and/or cruel to the Czechs.

This made me wonder about the gypsy communities and what the overall opinion on them is. Since, as I said, I have never met one, I can only sympathize for the Czechs judging by how the comments explain how they are treated by gypsies.

Frankly, this is dangerous, ridiculous nonsense. It is nothing more than sheer racism. I'm sorry, I have nothing against the Czech people per se, but I do have something against people categorizing an entire ethnic minority within a country as "rude and/or cruel." I'm not sure how much visibility Romani people have in Australia or New Zealand, but I'm quite certain it's not like Eastern Europe, where there are Romani ghettos, and Romani people are very intentionally kept separate from other ethnicities. A given town is likely to have one part for Czechs and another for Romanies.
Varislintu wrote:Well, this is a bit of a beehive of a topic. It's intertwined very strongly with racism and discrimination.

Finnish Romani have traditionally also been viewed negatively. Mostly the prejudice is that they are thieves and overly loud. They also used to have this blood feud culture which sometimes led to them being mortally violent to each other, but not really towards "white" Finns (I'll use this term even if I don't think it sounds descriptive). I don't think it happened very often, but this was part of the image white Finns had of them. They've faced a lot of discrimination from white Finns, including the ususal forceful assimilation tactic of the state taking custody of their children so that they would learn proper white Finn lifestyles.

This is what Finnish Romani often look like nowadays. Boys and men always wear long, dark pants, and the women who choose to adopt traditional dress as adults dress in a big black velvet skirt and a very decorated, often brightly coloured blouse, and they let their hair grow long. Some, of course, dress more mainstream.

EDIT: Here's a comic I found. It says:
- They're walking around in a big group again!
- Really weird.
- They're staring again! I'm glad you came along, I feel safer in a group.

All of this is pretty typical of how Romani people are viewed by non-Romani people. I think it's safe to say the "thief" stereotype is pretty well-known. The "loud" stereotype exists here, too. I don't know about blood feuds, but I've certainly heard (from my advisor) that infighting is quite common in Romani communities. I've seen at least a few comics a bit like the one you posted here, Varislintu. And again, I don't know about Finland specifically, but certainly some Romani communities emphasize the importance of a Romani person to stay in the company of other Romani people for cultural/religious/spiritual reasons.
Koko wrote:Wow, if so many have caused other people to hate them so, you'd think the Romani would've learned by now not to act as they have been. I'm sure there are some communities who get along well with their neighbours, but to those that act how I've heard them to, I must admit that I am quite glad I haven't met any now, for fear of stumbling upon one such group.

I have opened a sad thread :( But I find it interesting to learn about a race from a secondhand view and finding so many connections.

This is precisely why antiziganist stereotypes are so harmful. They do absolutely nothing to resolve either the problems that exist within Romani communities or the problems that they face in dealing with others.

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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Koko » 2014-09-12, 9:53

I definitely sympathize for the Romani, too. Since I have heard nothing from them (probably for obvious reasons), I have a one-sided opinion that is based only on reports. The fact that they come from the cultures that have a thing against the Romani doesn't make it a good opinion either.

I appreciate your input vijay :) Since you know a thing about the topic, it's as close as I think I'll get to hearing the Romani's side. Perhaps the only reason they are treated today as they is because of their history? Though, that's a big grudge to hold :/

When I was in like, grade six, I read a book called Milkweed and the protagonist was a Romani (Gypsy was used (is capital G okay? It would save over-repetition.) during the Holocaust. Misha was a bread thief, but only because he was an orphan and had absolutely no home. Since I cried at the end of the book, I have sympathy for the Romani, too, because I liked Misha (name given to him; he didn't remember his name so Uri gave him one). A weird reason, but I got connected to a fictional Romani.

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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Varislintu » 2014-09-12, 10:47

vijayjohn wrote:And again, I don't know about Finland specifically, but certainly some Romani communities emphasize the importance of a Romani person to stay in the company of other Romani people for cultural/religious/spiritual reasons.


I hadn't heard about that before, sounds interesting. Can you tell a bit more about that, like what do the cultural/religious/spiritual reasons entail? :)
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Saim » 2014-09-12, 11:55

Varislintu wrote: "white" Finns (I'll use this term even if I don't think it sounds descriptive).


Je suggère: ethnic Finns and Swedes ou non-Romani Finns.

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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Varislintu » 2014-09-12, 13:03

Saim wrote:
Varislintu wrote: "white" Finns (I'll use this term even if I don't think it sounds descriptive).


Je suggère: ethnic Finns and Swedes ou non-Romani Finns.


Yes, those would be better, thanks!
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-09-12, 19:47

Koko wrote:I definitely sympathize for the Romani, too. Since I have heard nothing from them (probably for obvious reasons), I have a one-sided opinion that is based only on reports. The fact that they come from the cultures that have a thing against the Romani doesn't make it a good opinion either.

Yeah, unfortunately, Romani people are one of the most discriminated minorities in Europe (or perhaps even worldwide) and have very rarely had the opportunity to give their side of the story. Most of the accessible information on them comes from non-Romanies, and even this has had such a harmful effect on Romani people that it can be almost impossible for them to trust a non-Romani researcher. However, interestingly, the Romani people are originally from South Asia and are (I think) growing increasingly aware of this, so I've found Eastern European Romanies very much open to talk to ethnic Indians such as myself. I actually think it's kind of sad how much they're willing to let us get away with just because we have roots in South Asia, too.
I appreciate your input vijay :) Since you know a thing about the topic, it's as close as I think I'll get to hearing the Romani's side.

Thanks! :)
Perhaps the only reason they are treated today as they is because of their history? Though, that's a big grudge to hold :/

The Romani people have been dragged through hell and back many times throughout their history in Europe, so yes, I'd say they have incredibly big grudges to hold. That being said, the reasons why they are treated the way they are today are complex, but I think the biggest factor in any kind of racial discrimination is simply ignorance.
When I was in like, grade six, I read a book called Milkweed and the protagonist was a Romani (Gypsy was used (is capital G okay? It would save over-repetition.) during the Holocaust.

Gypsy with a capital G is OK with Romani scholars IME (and by that I mean scholars who are Romani); some of them even use that term in their own research. I don't know whether that term is considered acceptable on this forum, but here you were just saying that they used the term "Gypsy," so that's okay.
Misha was a bread thief, but only because he was an orphan and had absolutely no home. Since I cried at the end of the book, I have sympathy for the Romani, too, because I liked Misha (name given to him; he didn't remember his name so Uri gave him one). A weird reason, but I got connected to a fictional Romani.

Yeah, there are some stories like this that non-Romanies propagate. I suppose sympathetic stories help more than non-sympathetic ones, but they're really no substitute for seeing what Romani people themselves have to say. What they went through during the Holocaust was truly horrific, though the situation in Eastern Europe has hardly improved since then and is getting worse, not better.
Varislintu wrote:I hadn't heard about that before, sounds interesting. Can you tell a bit more about that, like what do the cultural/religious/spiritual reasons entail? :)

Well, here, I'd like to quote from p. 75 of We Are the Romani People, a book written by my advisor explaining this from a Romani perspective (and relating it to Hinduism) more succinctly than I possibly could. :)
To live properly is to abide by a set of behaviours collectively called Rromanipen, Rromipe or Rromanija, and this entails maintaining spiritual balance. This Ayurvedic concept, called karma in India (and in Romani kintala, or in some dialects kintari or kintujmos) is fundamental to the Romani worldview. Such a dualistic perspective groups the universe into pairs, God and the Devil, Romanies and non-Romanies, adults and children, clean and polluted - even the stages of life are two in number: adulthood (when one is able to produce children) and, together, childhood and old age (when one is not able to produce children).

Time spent in the non-Romani world (the jado) drains spiritual energy or dji. Sampson (1926:257) gives the various meanings of this word as "[s]eat of the emotions, heart, soul; temper, disposition, mood; courage, spirit", comparing it to Sanskrit jīva, Hindi , "life, soul, spirit, mind" and Armenian (h)ogi, "soul". One's spiritual batteries can only be recharged by spending time in an all-Romani environment - in the normal course of events, in family homes. It is in this area of spiritual and physical wellbeing (baxt) that the Indian origin of our Romani people is most clearly seen.

I recommend this book pretty highly, by the way. It's an easy-to-read introduction to the Romani people, including their language, history, culture, and the issues they face in dealing with non-Romanies, and I also find it just generally useful for reference purposes because it has some useful data in it as well. It's available through Amazon (see here, for example).

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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Babelfish » 2014-09-12, 20:04

Ugh. This is so reminiscent of attitudes towards Jews :( The stereotyping, the question whether it's something to do with their behavior... No, it's because they're different, and people tend to hate and fear the different. Keeping within their own community by tradition isn't much help (but neither is it their fault of course!). I remember the comparison with Jews has been made somewhere, a National Geographic article I think, and the author mentioned that unlike the Jews, they don't seek their own state; in the words of their national poet, "Home is where my two feet stand".
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-09-12, 20:19

The comparison has been made fairly often, actually. Romani people themselves have observed similarities with Jews and vice versa. Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust; there is a saying that Hitler would have killed six million Roma, too, if there had been six million Roma. In fact, largely because both Jews and Romani people were "outsiders" in Europe, Romani people were widely believed to be somehow connected with Jews. Even today, there is a website by Im Nin'alu making the case for Romani people being originally Jewish in great detail, despite the wealth of evidence that this is not actually true. :P
Babelfish wrote:the author mentioned that unlike the Jews, they don't seek their own state

Not anymore AFAIK, no, but it has been attempted before. Janusz Kwiek, recognized as king of the Polish Roma, sent a delegate to Mussolini in 1937 asking for a piece of land between Somalia and Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) so that Romani people could settle there. However, the following year, it was recommended in Nazi Germany that the Romani people be eliminated, not simply removed from Europe.
in the words of their national poet, "Home is where my two feet stand".

Wait, whose national poet? :hmm:

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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Levike » 2014-09-13, 10:59

Here the majority of people are openly racist against them because of the "they are thieves and they can't behave" thing.

Jews also used to be discriminated, to a lesser extent though. Maybe the fact that they were Hungarian speakers helped.

While the Gypsies were "thieves and loud",
Jews were "greedy and selfish".

Sadly we don't have many Jews left
but my grandmother described them as kind people.
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Johanna » 2014-09-13, 13:38

Babelfish wrote:Ugh. This is so reminiscent of attitudes towards Jews :( The stereotyping, the question whether it's something to do with their behavior... No, it's because they're different, and people tend to hate and fear the different. Keeping within their own community by tradition isn't much help (but neither is it their fault of course!). I remember the comparison with Jews has been made somewhere, a National Geographic article I think, and the author mentioned that unlike the Jews, they don't seek their own state; in the words of their national poet, "Home is where my two feet stand".

They're also pretty much ignored when it comes to the Holocaust, despite being as affected by it as the Jews, which may be a key. Also that they've traditionally been much poorer, due to being forced into a different niche by the dominant society.

But yes, the attitude towards Roma today is a lot like what you can read in articles from the 30's about Jews :(
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Set » 2014-09-13, 16:45

I remember when we studying the rise of the nazis in school and the topic came up of whether it was possible for something similar to arise in the UK now and most of those in the class thought it couldnt because nobody would let that happen again and there was a tone of "only Germans could do the holocaust". Someone brought up the idea that it wouldn't be too difficult to build up hatred against "Gypsies" which in the UK usually means both Roma and Irish travellers without distinction. The discussion basically descended into a rant of different people giving anecdotes about how a friend had been mugged by "Gypsies" or whatever, especially from this one girl who knew a lot about what the Jews had been through under the nazis but seemed to think this was somehow different. Although not everyone was taking part, I remember there were only really two of us who were speaking out against the rest in any way. I don't think they realised they'd proved themselves wrong about the rise of racist ideologies.

I feel like a lot more people will stand up against racism against black people or Jewish people nowadays or stand up for LGBT rights, but you rarely see people making a stand for Roma and travellers since they're not an "accepted minority" so to speak. Maybe Saim remembers us arguing with a Romanian lady who admitted that she was maybe saying racist things about Jews which wasn't nice, but that it wasn't racist to insult "Gypsies".


On a slightly more positive note, in a recent UK tv series, Utopia, one of the main characters turned out to be Roma and this played a role in the story without being racist (at least from my unknowing perspective). I don't remember having ever seen anything like that before in mainstream media.
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-09-17, 0:22

Levike wrote:Sadly we don't have many Jews left

I don't think most countries do. There are almost none left in Kerala now even though there used to be tons.
Johanna wrote:They're also pretty much ignored when it comes to the Holocaust, despite being as affected by it as the Jews, which may be a key.

I'd go so far as to say that the fact that they were victims of the Holocaust is often denied, not just ignored. They weren't even allowed to participate in the Auschwitz memorial ceremony in 1995 (the 50th anniversary of the camp's liberation by Allied forces) and had to watch it from outside. None were invited to participate in the US Holocaust Memorial Council when it was established in 1980, then President Ronald Reagan made the first Romani appointment in 1987, but George Bush took it away in 2002 and so it seems they have no representation there to this day.
Set wrote:I feel like a lot more people will stand up against racism against black people or Jewish people nowadays or stand up for LGBT rights, but you rarely see people making a stand for Roma and travellers since they're not an "accepted minority" so to speak.

Not only that, but Romani people and Travellers are hardly even discussed in academia and suffer discrimination there as well to this day. AFAIK, it is impossible for a Romani faculty member to gain tenure without hiding their ethnicity.

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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby md0 » 2014-09-17, 5:29

I can also see parallels with the various castes of untouchables, say, like Burakumin in Japan.
In Europe, even large parts of the progressive circles think of Roma as non-human.
My friend, a social worker, was present in a EU conference on Roma People a few months ago, and she witnessed the organisers calling the private security to throw out Roma who tried to ask uncomfortable questions during the Q&A session.

Southern Cyprus doesn't have a significant Roma population, most of them are living in the north, and I do not think that the attitudes are very different.
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2014-09-17, 19:30

Nice to read your comments Vijay.

In the Netherlands there are also a lot of negative stereotypes about Sinti/ Roma. There are also television programmes about them, from the UK originally but they covered them for the Netherlands. You mostly see the girls in those programmes, getting married and doing their Holy Communion and stuff like that.

The Sinti and Roma people always make me feel very aware of my stereotypes and prejudices and the way people have stereotypes and prejudices even when they know it's not good to think negatively about people on a whole. But unfortunately I have had when I was working at the library negative experiences with some Sinti and/or Roma people and even though I know not all are like that, or at least that there are reasons why those kids behaved the way they did, I have to remind myself a lot. Which is okay, but most people don't do that, most people think that their experiences are the truth and that's it.

But, there are positive stereotypes too. Their music is very well-known for example, they're considered to be musical.
For example: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenberg_Trio

Well, apart from that I think most stereotypes are negative :? Which doesn't really solve any problems that this community has.
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby linguoboy » 2014-09-17, 21:52

vijayjohn wrote:Not only that, but Romani people and Travellers are hardly even discussed in academia and suffer discrimination there as well to this day. AFAIK, it is impossible for a Romani faculty member to gain tenure without hiding their ethnicity.

Isn't Hancock tenured? He was a prominent spokesperson for the rights of Sinti and Roma in the UK during the 60s. How did he keep his Romani heritage hidden after that?
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby Johanna » 2014-09-17, 23:44

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Not only that, but Romani people and Travellers are hardly even discussed in academia and suffer discrimination there as well to this day. AFAIK, it is impossible for a Romani faculty member to gain tenure without hiding their ethnicity.

Isn't Hancock tenured? He was a prominent spokesperson for the rights of Sinti and Roma in the UK during the 60s. How did he keep his Romani heritage hidden after that?

Does he have a first name?

I searched on Wikipedia for hancock, no luck, and then went to Hancock – surname, and nowhere in that list does it say anything about Roma or Sinti. So still no luck.
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linguoboy
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Re: View on Gypsies and About Them

Postby linguoboy » 2014-09-18, 1:34

Johanna wrote:I searched on Wikipedia for hancock, no luck, and then went to Hancock – surname, and nowhere in that list does it say anything about Roma or Sinti. So still no luck.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Hancock

You would've found him had you gone here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Romani_people
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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