Over the past few months on my Tumblr blog, I have received many angry and hateful anonymous asks. They made me feel very upset and angry. So, I decided to leave Tumblr and start a new blog – this one – though this page was originally posted over there.
I am Roma. My people are most commonly called “Gypsy” because they were believed to have emerged out of Egypt. My paternal grandmother was Servika (Slovak) Romani and my paternal grandfather was Lotfitka (Latvian) Romani, which makes my father full-blood Romani. My mother’s family, however, is a lot less easy to trace since they were not open about their origins. We believe they settled in the Edinburgh and then Border area of Scotland (around Kirk Yetholm) and tall tales of being related to the Faas flew around. They understood Servika though – and I have a feeling they were most likely also Slovak or Czech Romani.
The word ‘Gypsy’ has been one that has affected my life in many negative ways; it has been leveled against me in order to shun and oppress me. It has been used to physically hurt me; it has been used to accuse me. It is a word I have intense dislike for.
However, I think that it’s a word we should seek to redefine and not attempt to make taboo. In the US the word is heavily romanticized and appropriated, while in Europe the word still contains racist and violent overtones with pogroms happening regularly in Romani ghettos.
In the past, I wanted to spend all my time trying to convince people that the romantic stereotype was wrong; that we should move forwards and redefine things. But, I have quickly come to realize that something like that will never happen—or at least, it’s going to take many, many years and it won’t be simply because a nobody like me got angry a few times.
Every day now, I have to bite my tongue about things I see all over the internet and even in the real world—the romanticized and misguided imagery tagged with gypsy; the hateful messages I still receive in my email and messages; the distorted reports in the media; and disgusting ‘shows’ like “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” and “American Gypsies”. It all makes me hurt inside—but I know that I have to bear silent witness to it all.
But, it’s up to all of us. It just takes an extra minute to rethink a tag, or repost a photograph with a correct description, or avoid a TV show… that’s all.
To me the word Gypsy is indicative of a range of ethnic groups. Period. I know that to others it has become ingrained as a stereotype that will probably never change. I think by more people becoming aware of the reality and questioning “is this ok?” … it begins to get the message out there. By questioning, you look for answers, and by looking for answers, you find the truth~
I AM a Gypsy; and I AM proud of that.