There are posted a lot of information about the Travelers (Taters/Rom) on internet, these days. Information about their previous and present problems and issues in general. In particular the many facebook groups have a lot to offer, as well as the various organizations with their own facebook pages, or booklets/leaflets they send to their members.
|Text: Kai Ødegård|
And for many, as for myself when I started to collect information about my family, my distant relatives and my heritage, it was actually a huge amount of information out there. It is quite overwhelming in the beginning. A lot of literature and posts about the Travelers daily struggle, stigma from the society,
and not to forget the local and central authorities. And as more I was digging for information about the past, as upset I became.
Upset at how human beings can treat other human beings. Upset at the fact we are now living in an enlightened age where we easily can find educational information which can explain it in such a way there is no need for this hostility. But I guess, one should not be surprised, since this has been and seems to be a problem everywhere, until the end of time.
Of course, what made me most upset was how the state and counties in the land, treated the Travelers. ´The laws which were made, and again the general stigmatization from even the Media. No wonder the battle was lost again and again. And as I read more, and even more, and managed to “educate” myself on
this issue, I started to realize that I was as ignorant as the next guy, and I knew hardly anything about this.
I thought I knew, but nope I hardly knew anything. I was as they are called “Historieløs”, I didn’t know my own story. I was becoming angry at myself. Sure, it is always a reason why people are ignorant (or lack information). For me it was simply because it had been kept as a secret, and nobody in my family had ever talked about it. Turned out, I was not alone experiencing this silence. And when the general Media didn’t write too much about it, how could I know? Only by personally seek out the information, and then demand explanations from the elders in my family.
So, after hours and hours, weeks and months with reading and information gathering, I managed to create a so-called family tree by using one of the many Genealogy sites online. I started to get some general overview of my ancestors, and their stories. I felt good about it, but only for a little while. The pride kind of wore off quickly, and the bitter-sweet feeling crept inn, as I also became more aware of the tragedies many other families as well as some of my own had experienced. I started to learn about the “lock up” the Travelers experienced, the Lobotomy, the Sterilization laws, the camps (in Norway) which closed down in the end of the 80s (in 1989)! What the Hell? This happened up to our time? I was now seriously angry.
These days, I get really provoked when I read about how our present politicians, Church leaders, and other Media executives try to excuse themselves. It means absolutely nothing when a Prime Minister express how he/she apologize on behalf of the government, or when some Bishop tries to explain it was done with the best intentions. Or the Media moguls tell us this was another era and it was another time. Bad people always make excuses when they are caught. Always.
So, when the Politicians put on a show and start talking about the fancy word “Reconciliation” (it’s a nice word, isn’t it?), which means let us forget about the shameful behavior we did, and what we did wrong. Let us look forward, and try to get along. And they continue with their fancy bureaucratic words and
phrases, I just reply …. Am I disappointed? Am I sad? Do I feel sorry for myself and mine?
Hell No! I am angry. Angry as hell!
Proud and (sometimes angry) Tater. Kai Ødegård
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