Racism and discrimination

Racism and discrimination against Rom certainly is a reality and one that many of Amare Chel are experiencing daily but are we not often guilty of the same?

Yes, we are, and not just against the Gadje but even against other Romani People. There are Rom who deny that Sinti are part of the community of the Romani People and many, if not the majority, also deny that the Domari are part of us. That too is racism.

As indicated even between Sinti and Roma, unfortunately, there is the problem of racism. Some come to say that in this group there is no will for integration through work, education, desire for a settled home, etc. Though, we also have to accept the fact that there are segments in some groups who do not wish to pursue honest work and rather wish to live of the proceeds of criminal activities.

These are the same type of topics used for projects aimed at our people without great results. Almost no one takes responsibility for bad analysis, mismanagement and substantial failure. The biggest regret is that these modes are also used by some Roma organizations and experts.

The problem with work and education, and especially so-called integration, with which the Gadje really mean assimilation, is that often the approach is entirely alien to the Romani way of doing things.

Employment, that is to say working for a Gadje master, be that the owner of a company or even the state owning the enterprise, is not something that goes easy with the Romani psyche and the education system, in the way of Gadje schools, also do not cater (adequately) for the needs of the Romani child, be that emotionally or culturally.

Sinti and some Roma also accuse (rightly so, unfortunately) some Roma groups – one of them in particular – of behavior and practices (and I am not talking about child marriage only) such as begging and stealing, and others, as economic activities and because of that do not wish to have anything to do with them.

While I have to say that I have not seen any Sinti engaging in stealing, especially not from their own People, and also not begging, some Romanichals certainly steal in general and also engage in other criminal activities including the distribution and even the production of prohibited substances.

However, instead of shunning, attempts should be made of educating them. Helping them to find other ways of making a living might be called for and would be a much better solution rather than allowing ourselves, also on this level, to be divided. We, like all people, have good and bad ones among our ranks.

What is worse, however, is the fact that, aided and abetted by organizations, “experts” and “activists” some groups deny some others the status as Romani, which they deserve, and thus their birthright, and this very often based on the fact that they rokker a different version of the Chib or do not speak Romanes at all. That too is a form of discrimination and even racism.

While the Gadje people, and their governments, are, to a degree, and more than that, the doshman, our attitude towards the Gadje also amounts to a form of racism. We cannot expect to afforded respect if we are not prepared to give it also.

This division is a “divide and rule” tactic employed on behalf of the masters of both the baros and “experts”, namely the Gadje authorities and agencies in whose pay they are.

While to some extent the issue did exist before, it was, however, the linguists and the big organizations who really created it by putting one particular group of Rom on a pedestal as being the truest of true and their version of the Chib being singled out as the truest. The latter which is not the case at all, considering that many, if not indeed most, of the endings of the words, especially of nouns, are Romanian in origin and not Romani.

It was also similar “experts” who declared that the Dom, or Domari, are not Romani as they have but few words of the Chib and generally only speak Arabic (or other vernacular, like Turkish, for instance), also denying the People their birthright. There are many Romani groups or parts of groups who have lost, for a variety of reasons, the Language (Chib) partly or entirely, who speak with a “broken tongue”, “poggadi Chib” as it is called among the Romanichals in Britain, or, as said, do not speak the language at all or with just a few words thrown into a sentence.

On the other hand one of the big organizations while denying those true Romani origin their birthright of Romani declared a certain group of Travelers as “Roma” without them having, aside from occasional intermarriage, no connection at all to the Romani People. And now, in recent times, “activist” and organizations have declared that being Romani is a matter of self-declaration, that is to say if someone, even a Gadjo or Gadji declare that they are Romani no one is permitted to question it while, at the same time they, those activists, take upon themselves the right to question someone with true Romani background as to whether this is the case. All part of the “divide and rule” tactics and we seem to be nicely falling for it.

It is true that unity cannot be created by force, so to speak, but we must not allow ourselves divided in this way by those with a hidden agenda which, if we but open out eyes, is not all that hidden. ”A People united can never be defeated” was one of the watchwords of several of the South American revolutions in the past and it is not just a truism but a fact. We are, if we really consider all those truly of Romani ancestry and background, regardless of group, around the world, not just around 16 to 20 Million but a great many more.

We may be a nation without a country but that does not mean that we are not a Nation, a People, and the Gadje are afraid, and I am not jesting, of us ever really uniting and acting as a united entity. Hence they use their agents who claim to be working on our behalf, and sadly a fair number of them are Rom themselves, to divide us, as a People and to keep us disunited. So let us ditch the racism among us, but also, in a way, the racism towards others, and while the Gadje, per se, are the enemy this is not because of their Race but because the are afraid of us. Let us also ditch the notion of assimilation, disguised as integration, and stand on our own feet and not try to become just simply Gadje by losing out ethnic identity, though that is exactly what the Gadje want. Let us not commit ethnocide. It is bad enough if they try to do it to us but let us not do the work for them.

Michael Smith

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