Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I have heard that the term "Gypsy" is derogatory. For too long--ignorantly--that was the only name that I knew for the Roma. I had first encountered The Roma in Europe, but they are spread throughout the world. I lived in a very friendly country in Europe but the Roma were stigmatized. I was immediately told that they were thieves and I began to hate them because I heard stories of how they would sell roses with cocaine inside, so that when the buyer or recipient sniffs the rose, they become high and will be hooked on drugs for the rest of their lives--please remember that I was ignorant and I have always hated drugs.

I had seen a few Roma boys break into my babysitter's car and steal our roller skates. They dropped them after they were caught; therefore, I did not hold a grudge but it seemed as though even the most polite person would have a negative stereotype or experience with the Roma. The Roma culture is very exclusive. They do not mingle with outsiders.

The Roma would sell clothing and other goods at the market. Being that they are a people who travel and often cannot find work due to discrimination, I would often wonder if these items were also stolen. I noticed, however, that that was the time that everyone would interact with the Roma. The people who held such hatred for them did not have any qulams about purchasing their goods and I was partially disgusted by it but I followed the majority blindly. I loved to go to the market and I liked that I had the opportunity to speak to them. I have always been curious about everyone but they were all business.

The exclusivity of the Roma is possibly part of why they are misunderstood. The Roma do not allow outsiders into their social circles. Their social cohesion is rare because literally, if you fight one of them, you will fight their entire family. Tony Gatlif's film, "Latcho Drom" portrays the journey of the Roma. In the film, it traces the trade route and shows the diversity of the people. The scenes in Spain are very powerful because a woman tells of being "Gitana" and compares it to a black bird.

In the U.S., "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" airs on The Learning Channel and I have watched a few episodes to witness their culture. Co-cultures have always fascinated me but the discrimination is obvious and what I fail to understand is that they look like the majority. Often, in societies, the outcasts are visible minorities but I cannot distinguish these people as "travelers" as they are called in Ireland and other countries. One thing remains constant: if it involves money, most are willing to forgive one's background. The weddings are big business and the outsiders will often host the Roma--in the similar way that everyone would interact with the Roma at the market.      

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