Gypsy vs. Roma: “Gypsy” conjures up all kinds of stereotypical images of Roma in the minds of viewers and readers. It should be replaced by Roma. Gypsy has been applied to the Roma by outsiders and it is offensive to many Roma just like Indian is offensive to Canada’s Native People. Ronald Lee, Roma Community Centre
To increase ratings or sell newspapers the Gypsy as Thief stereotype is sensationalized by news media all over the world. A disproportionate number of stories vilify the Roma – usually portraying them as con artist and thieves. Viewers believe the reports without question simply because they saw it on the news – resulting in the most damaging stereotype against the Roma.
‘The criminal stereotype of the Roma fails to recognize Roma as victims of crime too – and in particular of hate crime.’
Roma and the Law: “Of the many popular perceptions of the Roma, surely none is more alienating—for both sides—than the notion that the Roma are associated with criminal behavior. For majority populations, the concept of “Romani criminality” is too often a justification for their continuing indifference or hostility toward the plight of this group. For the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Roma, the burden of the criminal stereotype is one more sign that they can never get an even break in their struggle for acceptance and integration. At the same time, the taboo among many Romani leaders against any discussion of this issue, especially with the majority community, means that the subject has been off-limits even to the fair and balanced inquiries that could help to dispel myths and to establish an objective body of information. Labeling an entire ethnic group as criminal is discrimination. This practice, especially by the media, should be discouraged.” Read More
CAREFREE LIFESTYLE STEREOTYPE
A common misconception about Gypsies is that they have romantic carefree lifestyles and are free to point the wheels of nicely decorated caravans in any direction and travel at will. But many Roma in Europe are persecuted and without rights. Many are forced to live beside the city dump or metal wastelands filled with toxins in extremely poor conditions with no running water – places where nobody else wishes to live – on the outskirts – segregated and rejected by society. In these hovels they are still considered nomadic and yet, have nowhere to go. This is not freedom and far from any imagined romantic carefree lifestyle.
SEXY GYPSY STEREOTYPE
1875, Paris: Great scandal followed Bizet’s opera premier of Carmen. Not only was she a manipulative, free spirit who seduces good men at will, but she smoked on stage, got stabbed and died on stage too. Carmen developed a bad reputation overnight. But Controversy creates interest, and Sex and Violence sells tickets – so it was not long before Carmen became the talk of Paris. When the opera premiered in Vienna it became a popular and critical success and went on to become the most popular opera of all time. Fueled by erotic fantasies Carmen’s popularity in the collective psyche overshadowed reality, resulting in the Sexy Gypsy Stereotype. Although modern times are closing in fast, in a traditional Roma culture sexual conduct is highly regulated. Further Reading: Gypsy Sexuality
LOVE AND MARRIAGE
The findings of a recent study by AMALIPE show that many of the myths surrounding Roma lifestyle are outdated. These include marriage age, family size and the practices of arranged marriages and dowries. The following short videos speak of three realities: Sold into Marriage at age 12: Bairam Geta, a young Roma girl, tells her story while taking care of her little one. We Love Each Other: Yanka and Vassil share their views on marriage age, family size, dowries and the outdated practices of arranged marriages as they prepare to celebrate their own wedding. Married to Roma: Mariana is not Roma but she is married to a Roma and says, “Gypsies are better than Romanians”
FOLKLORISM and STEREOTYPES
Uni Graz: Michael Teichmann :‘Such a static concept of culture that neglects continual change and leaves outside all kinds of sociological aspects, holds the permanent danger of folklorization, that is the reduction of culture to outer and simplistic patterns or aspects. Artistic discussion on Roma and Sinti is characterised by such folkloristic attempts, especially those cultural areas of widespread public influence such as film, television and photography, which offer very few examples of truly individual perspectives….’
Judith Oakley: Folklore and exotic literature often convey the ideological and the symbolic disorder which the Gypsies appear to represent. The Gypsies are shown in either positive or negative form. Their apparent differences from non Gypsies are elaborated or simply imagined, for example, the belief that the Gypsies are closer to nature, or wild and free.
“When Gypsies are so far away that they verge on myth, they suddenly become alluring: handsome, artistic, living untrammeled lives, symbols of freedom. They are accepted provided they are confined to designated areas and to folklore: music and dance, the circus, caravans in approved sites. The only good Gypsy is the mythical one – the one who does not exist” – Jean-Pierre Liégeois, Gypsies: an illustrated history
Based on the stereotype that Roma children are unteachable, they are often refused admission and are sent to schools meant for mentally disabled. Jud Nirenberg: “According to studies, 65 to 75 percent of Romanies are placed in “special schools” before they reach puberty. Unless we accept that three-quarters of Romany children are born mentally challenged, this clearly shows there is a segregated school system in the Czech Republic. Justifications are not requested, thank you — only rectification. There is only one reason for three-quarters of nonwhite children to be in schools for the mentally challenged and the reason is not a legitimate one.”
Systematic Segregation: Mayors and local school authorities in Slovakia and other central and eastern European states still favour segregation of Roma children, despite national policies adopted by the central governments. Until solutions for including Roma children in the national school systems are invented or adopted by governments, many non profit organizations are struggling to give to the Roma children a good education. “There is no country where the situation of the Roma is good.” Vladimir Spidla
Lucie Horvathova on Education: “In primary, high-school and University they kept telling me: “You are not Roma anymore because you study.” And I used to say, But why? I behave naturally. I go to school and I keep in touch with my family. I know what is going on in the community. We have our customs and I keep them. And the fact that I go to school means nothing. I did not lose my Romanhood. It is part of my life. When everyone starts to regard education in this way – as a Part of the Culture – our culture will evolve.’ ~ Lucie Horvathova, See Video
GYPSY FORTUNE TELLER STEREOTYPE
Whether gazing into a crystal ball, reading palms and tea leaves or divining the future with a deck of Tarot cards, the Gypsy Fortune teller is alive and well in everyone’s imagination. Though she may be considered a stereotype, with one foot in the real world palm reading happens to be a practical way for many Roma women to earn money, especially if folk believe it is in their power to reveal important future events. But, just as not all Romani women are fortune tellers, not all fortune tellers can read the future. This stereotype will never fade. See : Madame Rudika
RHAPSODIC ROMANI STEREOTYPE
Carol Miller Church of Cheese: “Mention Gypsies and one stereotype that comes to mind may be a dancing Spanish Gypsy, a raven haired woman stomping the beat of Flamenco – a Carmen Amaya… Equally famous Gypsy performers like 1940′s era French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt or the popular modern French based band the Gipsy Kings fit nicely within this stereotype of the Rhapsodic Romani.”
“Another stereotyped view of Roma women depicts them as dirty, having too many usually naked children, being beaten by their husbands and exploited by their wider family who marry and have the first child at age 12. The difficult living conditions which many Roma face have to be taken into account. Lack of utilities such as running water, having no clothes for children, or eventual cases of domestic violence are indicators of poverty but not of ‘Gypsyness’.”
In a move headed up by the ROMA COMMUNITY CENTRE in Toronto, Ezra Levant was forced to remove a speech that promoted distrust, fear and hatred of Roma people. * Statement by the Roma Community Centre: Blatant Hate Speech in the Canadian Media Targeting Roma
Gypsy Stereotypes: Related
The Use of Satire in Debunking Stereotypes.
In this video several Gypsy stereotypes are mocked in an effort to debunk them, but there will be some who see it as confirmation of their stereotypes.
Chris Macdonald Dennis: “Stereotypes can be used in a satirical manner in order to try and reveal to the audience that their ways of categorizing the world are not only laughable, but dangerous. There will always be an uneasy line between the laughter of recognition that consolidates a community around shared experiences and values versus the unkind or undiscerning laugh of the outsider who can’t sift the grain of truth from a larger stereotype”
3 stereotypes are satirized: *Gypsy Thief, *Roma Illiteracy (thief steals book) *Supernatural abilities (thief magically slows time 700 X
Elena Podolyan slideshow: ROMA of SERBIA