I am not German. I am not Romanian.

I am not Italian or French.

What is so hard to understand about that? Why do non-Romani people get to ascribe nationhood and ethnicity to my body? When did my body become a text they get to co-author? It is not a wall on which you get to scrawl graffiti, arbitrarily assigning gender, ethnicity, belonging.

Our bodies are saturated with culture. Our languages map them out like states and nations. Minorities are mapped as primitive, untidy, other. We are corralled in ghettos and enclaves like animals. We are told our bodies are not ours to define.

Our lives are co-opted, commodified, and conscripted.

The text that is my body is mine alone to author. I lay claim to it’s title, cover page, and index. I lay claim to it’s illustrations and footnotes. I lay claim to the torn corners and broken spine.

This text is my text. This body is my body.

I am Roma.

I should not have to explain and annotate my life. I should not have to acquiesce to your placement of me in some new, random country shuffling my belonging like poker chips.

I AM Roma.

A nation without a state. A culture with many shining facets. A fragmented and fractured whole.

We belong everywhere and nowhere.

We are difficult.

But, that still doesn’t give you the right to assign qualities to me that you think fit better than my own reality of belonging.

This body, this is MY body. This text, this is MY text.

This life, this is MY life and who I am is mine to assign. I don’t need people scrawling out my existence and rewriting it with their own.

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