©Valeriu Nicolae, 2002, all rights reserved. Published in The Romani Diaspora in Canada: History, Culture & Equity Issues, Editor Ronald Lee et al., 2003, Canadian Scholars Institute Press, Toronto, Canada. Required Course Reading for Spring Seminar, NEW 343HI, University of Toronto.
This is what real life is about for the majority of Romanian Roma, a life most of our politicians don’t care or don’t know about.
Where ever I go people ask me where I am from. The answer is always complicated because I have to explain that although I am from Romania I am a Gypsy (Roma doesn’t say anything to most of them). In Europe, when I give this answer, people look at me like I am crazy. Gypsies are the people no one wants around: the thieves and the beggars who cheat everybody and live rich and carefree lives. But I was the manager of a respectable company with partners all over the continent. I did not prominently display any big gold rings or chains; in fact, I seemed to be absolutely normal. In North America the reaction when I say I am a Gypsy is usually “cool!” They think I must be a free spirit with some mystical ability to read their future in their palms, even though I work as a programmer. None of them know or want to know that life for the majority of Roma in Romania is a daily struggle for survival and nothing else.
Continue reading “No tambourines, dancing bears or golden earrings: A Snapshot of Life in Today’s Romania” – Valeriu Nicolae
©Ian Hancock, 1997, all rights reserved. Originally published in T.A. Acton and A. Mundy (eds.), Romani culture and Gypsy identity (University of Hertfordshire Press, Hatfield, 1997), pp. 180–7.
Language is essentially the control of thought. It becomes impossible for us to direct our future until we control our language. The sense of language is in precision of vocabulary and structure for a particular social context. (Asante, 1988: 31).
The manipulation by societies in power of the identities of subordinate groups is achieved in many ways. One such way is through discriminatory legislation, such as that enacted against the Romani people in almost every land, including the US. Another is through media representation, both factual and fictional. This last category, the portrayal of ‘Gypsies’ in poetry, film and novels, is the most effective in establishing such negative feelings because they are absorbed subliminally by children, at a time when they are most susceptible to acquiring the attitudes of mainstream society. Apart from descriptions of Romani people and their life, which are legion, the Romani language has also been the target of comment, invariably worded as fact rather than supposition. In his Tales of the Real Gypsy, Paul Kester gives his readers those ‘real’ facts about it (1897: 305):
Continue reading “Duty and beauty, posession and truth: the claim of lexical impoverishment as control” – Ian Hancock