What Treatment of the Romani People Tells us About Society

Updated: Nov 2, 2018

By Bella Rodrigues

Source: Getty Images

For centuries, the Romani people (more commonly known by the racial slur g*psies) have lived in the outskirts of nations and have only recently ceased their nomadic culture to settle in areas outside of Hungary. They have been characterized as nomadic and mystical, with thick accents and deep superstition. In reality they are just a ethnic group with ties to Eastern Europe and northern India. The most concentrated areas of Roma are in Turkey, Spain and France, but there is a small population that migrated to the United States as well. For centuries they have been one of the most discriminated and hated racial groups in the world. Even all the way in the United States, we contribute to the stereotypes and prejudice surrounding the Romani people. With the alarming rise of White Supremacy and Fascism in our own country and around the world, it is important to note what can happen and how to prevent it. Prevention and speaking out towards injustices, like that of the Roma is extremely important to resisting corrupt and racist groups. The Roma continue to be one of the poorest groups and unemployment is over 60%, but there is a more pressing issue.

“The Jobbik party” or the Far-Right Hungarian Party told the public that the Roma have “antisocial” behavior and that needs to be treated. The party has begun to order “public order protection camps” according to Csanad Szegedi, vice chairman of the Jobbik party and representative to the European Parliament. Chairman of the party, Gabor Vona mentioned how previous experiments on how to integrate the Roma people into Hungarian society have failed and the party agrees this segregation was necessary.

The party is widely popular in northeast Hungary where the population of Roma people is high. The worst part is that this only gained brief international inquiry in 2012. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy tried to put a halt to Roma camps in France and was met with tumult from the EU and his own government. He was believed to be stigmatizing the Romani people. The camps themselves are more like large compounds with plastic shelters and little other utilities. There hasn’t been much static concerning these camps in the media even as recent atrocities occur. April 2017, a story from Romani family in a camp in Kosovo broke in which people were being given water with lead in it. According to the family, one daughter died and another is visually impaired from lead poisoning.

So why is nobody talking about it? Why is it important to care about what’s happening on another continent? Well, first of all, basic human rights are vital to our existence as a species. And second of all, there is no second of all. This, well could be another racial genocide like the Holocaust or the Native Americans. It’s also important to recognize that this discrimination is not new and is even embedded in our society in America. The term “g*psy” is a racial slur tossed around frequently. There are even Halloween costumes singling out Romani features and stereotypes to be fortune tellers and magicians. Although not as extreme as the prejudice in Europe, Americans should do what they can to recognize their racism and stereotypes.


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