Dr. Jeszenszky,

My name is Qristina and I am Roma. I don’t suppose either of those things matter to you, but I have a few things I want to say.

The words you wrote in your book are racist, defamatory, and bigoted, as well as simply incorrect. The book is there, in print – proof that you wrote it and proof that it was published. The book was published only three years ago (in 2009), but you claim that you would not publish now; you claim that your words were taken out of context, that they were taken from the works of others, directly, yet there are no citations and no support for these claims.

You say it’s just one small paragraph contained in one book.

It wouldn’t matter if it were only one sentence out of a set of encyclopedia;

words are damaging.

Especially words that are written by a man that claims so many other grandiose titles: former Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Ambassador to the USA, and currently Ambassador of Hungary to Norway.

These titles do not erase or excuse your words.

These titles, in fact, make your words all the more powerful.

My people have been marginalized and oppressed for centuries, especially throughout Europe. Women like me don’t get good education, good jobs, good healthcare, good housing. Women like me are forced into horrific situations every day, just to stay alive.

You characterize us as responsible for our own fate; as unwilling to work; as unruly and unable to be educated; as a problem.

Dr. Jeszenszky, the only problem I see is rhetoric such as yours. Rhetoric that is unapologetic in it’s portrayal of a marginalized minority. Rhetoric that spews from the mouths of so-called ambassadors and ministers. Rhetoric that whitewashes governments and institutions and fools the general public into believing that the problem with Hungary isn’t bad governance, but rather the existence of Roma.

Rhetoric so focused on the other that the self is abandoned.

Despite all of your laws and rules and fences and ghettos and evictions and chapters in books, there are some of us who are doctors and lawyers; scholars and academics; authors and athletes. We have worked hard to get where we are, and we’re not going to stay silent.

Academics may write letters of support, but their faulty logic and unsupported evidence is as crass as your self-defense.

Dr. Jeszenszky, we have our own scholars and academics. People who can research your faulty and inaccurate claims and rebut them with solid academic and medical proof that any negative affects on the mental and physical health of the Roma have nothing to do with our family structure and relationship arrangements.

As Roma and a professional, I know from personal experience how damaging words like yours can be. How hard it is to break out of the box that you paint us into. How much effort it is to receive barely a fraction of the things non-Roma have.

As an ambassador your role is to protect your citizens, support prosperity, and work for peace. These statements, both the paragraph and the chapter in your book and your response to complaints, do nothing to protect Hungarian Roma, support the burgeoning prosperity of Hungary, and they most certainly do nothing to maintain peace.

As the great American author John Burroughs stated, “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”

You, Dr. Jeszenszky are a failure – to Hungary, to Norway, to the Roma, but mostly to yourself.

Yours,

~ Qristina Zavackova Cummings

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