Within and outside

Anti-Gypsyism remains a very serious problem all over Europe. There is enough out there and in all kind of shapes and forms to satisfy even the most eclectic tastes and justify ‘opinions’ starting from those who think we, Roma, deserve to be killed or permanently sterilized to those that reject us just because we are ‘different’.

I witnessed every type of anti-Roma rejection from institutional ones(the only meeting within an intergovernmental institution where I saw guards in front of the doors was in the case of a rather small Roma meeting) to biological one(segregation in hospitals in order to protect the majority population from the ‘gypsy diseases’). I heard people saying some of the most awful possible things about us, the Roma, but I also heard well intended people making racist jokes that were considered funny by those around them.

The worst type of anti-Gypsyism I faced came not from the majority but paradoxically enough from Roma. The most absurd accusations, the most vicious attacks, the most disgusting theories of racial, sexual and religious superiority and also the anti-Gypsyism that affected me the most came from us, Roma, and not from the majority. Unfortunately I am not at all an exceptional case.

I do understand the triggers and the reasons and I am smart enough to find numerous ways to justify it. The lack of resources, the marginality, survival techniques, power struggles, self-contradictions and ambiguities of Roma identity are just some of these.

A good majority of those of Roma facing the worst of racism on behalf of the majorities are not speakers of Romani and come from a mixed ethnic background. I, myself, grew up in a mix family and with rare opportunities to speak Romani. The overwhelming majority of leading Roma activists are in the same situation.

Somewhat expected, nowadays, some of them push a rather radical agenda that has very little to do with Human Rights but most to do with access to resources and political power based on ethnicity and not much else. Such a movement is in my opinion dangerous as it risks alienating the majorities of both non-Roma and Roma. It is also dangerous because involves a necessary radicalization of the race discourse that we should abhor.

Fighting against anti-Gypsyism should be a part of fighting against Human Rights abuses, against extremism and populism and not a justification to endorse abuses. It is not rare that anti-Gypsyism is used, unfortunately, as an excuse to justify corruption, violation of rights (especially of children) and maintaining power by toxic leadership. Sometimes is used to justify blatant racism that targets the non-Roma.

Solutions to address the existing situation of Roma in Europe should have indeed fighting anti-Gypsyism at the very core. But those solutions should not ignore neither the risks of racism within the many and very heterogeneous Roma groups nor the reverse racism that seems to become more and more acceptable among some of the Roma political elites.

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