June is Gypsy, Roma, & Traveller History Month!

I should have made this post ages ago since it’s halfway through the month, but, hooray! I’ve been adventuring a lot, first in Ireland, then Mexico, then the Florida Keys. But now I’m back, and this is month is dedicated to celebrating Romani and Traveller culture and remembering history. It feels like the best way to honor the month is to post a small pastiche of articles that touch on the subject from around the web. I’ll keep the posts coming, this is just a starter, and I have a few articles coming out on the topic soon too. The hashtag I’ve been using on Twitter is #RomaTravellerHistoryMonth and my handle is @JSReidy, if you want to follow. There’s also https://www.facebook.com/endromaniexploitation to consider.

History:

1. Settela Steinbach’s image was used as the haunting symbol of the Jewish Holocaust for a long time before it was discovered that Settela was a Sinti Romani girl. Read about her life, journey, and remember her in Romedia’s post, SETTELA STEINBACH, A NEARLY-FORGOTTEN SINTI-ROMA STORY FROM WWII

 

Still from the “Westerbork film” showing Settela peeking outside through the crack. Courtesy of the WWII Image Bank-   National Institute for War Documentation.

Still from the “Westerbork film” showing Settela peeking outside through the crack. Courtesy of the WWII Image Bank- National Institute for War Documentation.

2. http://www.imninalu.net/ has an interesting list of past and present “Famous Gypsies”

3. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) published, “Teaching of the Roma and Sinti genocide is crucial to addressing discrimination, say participants at OSCE meeting,”

Resources:

The Romani Library Project aims to promote and make available across Europe modern literature of the Roma culture. Its origins lie in a collaboration between expert academic institutions, European publishers with an intercultural perspective, Roma cultural organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations with experience in Romani publishing.

Arts and Culture:

1. Opre Roma – Roma, Stand up! A feature documentary film about Roma rappers and an emerging underground Roma hip hop scene in the Balkans.

2. Flamenco is a Gitano dance, and this performance charts its Indian roots to its Spanish birth.

3. Gypsy Fever, the London-based Balkan Romani music and Manouche Jazz fusion group tears it up with a swing-rock beat.

Gypsy Fever. Image Source: http://quecumbar.co.uk/

Gypsy Fever. Image Source: http://quecumbar.co.uk/

4. Gypsy artist Lita Cabellut “The Starcatchers” opening night at Opera Gallery Seoul with fashion designer Lie Sang Bong

Recent News:

Tania Leontieff just became Israel’s first Romani police officer.

Articles on ethnicity and culture:

Filip Borev, author of the blog Pipopotamus, writes in “What is in a word? ‘Gypsy’: pride or prejudice” about why he identifies as Gypsy, not a Rom, and why that’s ok. In another post, “International Romani Day: and why this year will be my last,” he explains the problems with a “Roma nation” and the trouble with the Romani Rights movement being led by people outside of the culture.

Satire:

Are you familiar with those travel blogs that tell you “how to spot a Gypsy” and continue on with a bunch of racist nonsense under the guise of “educating” tourists? If not, lucky you. I wrote a satirical guide in that vein for Bathshebas called “American Gypsies Travelling in Europe: how to recognize white people.” Hold onto your babies!

proudtoberoma

Advertisements

“Gypsy” Jazz singer Tatiana Eva-Marie talks with Quail Bell Magazine

I want my audience to feel that they are constantly traveling with their ears.” –Tatiana Eva-Marie

Read the interview “Tatiana Eva-Marie on the harmonious fusion of Romani ‘Gypsy’ music” in Quail Bell Magazine and find out what she has to say about Romani music and representation, how her multicultural heritage shapes her art, growing up in theatres and concert halls all over Europe, the Music Explorer competition/documentary (click the heart to vote for her!), and her life in the Avalon Jazz Band in New York City. You can also listen to some beautiful songs from the competition.

JR: How do you think the Romani arts scene can support the fight for Romani rights and representation?

TEM: By showing an open and generous culture, not magical creatures, not chicken thieves, but real people. I suppose it is somewhat natural to be afraid of foreign things, but in the age of internet and communication there can be no excuse for that anymore. We are all so mixed now and most people can trace their heritage back to more than one country. We should all embrace our differences and be proud of our origins. We should try and educate the people around us, share our knowledge with each other. Art is a wonderful way of doing that and has always been a bridge between people.

Opre Roma! Find out more at http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/interview-jazz-singer-tatiana-eva-marie

Image

Tatiana Eva-Marie singing with the Avalon Jazz Band

A new adventure! And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne, France

So the Florida State University class is over– it’s been a really lovely three year contract teaching at FSU, two of which were spent teaching this class, “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: Writing Creatively about Romani Culture.” I want to say thank you to all my wonderful students– it’s been a pleasure working with everyone and I will always hold this time dear. And thank you to the readers outside my class– it’s so cool and unexpected that y’all would join in to the discussion and I’m so glad that you did. I’m decided to keep the blog going and continue to post about and discuss Romani arts, culture, representation, and human rights. 

I’m very excited about my next teaching adventure– I will be teaching fiction workshops as a guest professor at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne in France! The retreat has been featured in Poets and Writers and has excellent reviews. The application deadline for applications is May 15th. I went on the retreat last year as a guest and absolutely adored it– I discuss how fate aligned my teaching spot this summer in my blog. We went on excursions to Chantilly, Paris, and Picardy; swam in the Château moat; practiced yoga every morning and every evening in the gardens; ate fresh homemade French food; workshopped out work; attended lectures on writing in our private salon; took art classes and sketched on the lawn… it’s a good thing. Obviously, I would like all the delightful and talented people I know to join us on this gorgeous retreat, so think about it. Click here for more information, a sample syllabus, tuition and housing, applications, etc. 

Thanks again for a fantastic semester and a rewarding 3 years– I’ll miss you all, and I’m also happy about what’s coming up in the present. Have a great summer everyone and kushti baxt! (Best of luck!) And maybe I’ll see you in France–

Romani women face discrimination because of cultural stereotypes, lecturer says

Check out this article about in The Daily Texan about the ways in which “Gypsy” stereotypes in pop culture and the media, particularly representations of Romani women as promiscuous, immoral, and inhuman, fuels the Romani human rights crisis. 

“The rape of Romani women isn’t considered a crime because of this Jezebel trope [of the Roma],” Oprea said. “People see Gypsy women as ‘welfare queens,’ sexually promiscuous and irresponsible. 

The discrimination and subordination Romani women face parallel that of minority women in the U.S., Oprea said. 

“Like African-Americans and Native Americans, Roma have a long history of subordination in the hands of white supremacy,” Oprea said. “Just as the rape of black women by white slave masters was essential to the perpetuation of the system of slavery in the U.S., the rape of Romani women was essential to the system of slavery in Romania.”

 

For extra-credit, in 300 words or more, analyze the parallels between an example of a pop culture “Gypsy” stereotype and a Romani human rights infringement.

Unite and Celebrate: A Band of Roma. Quail Bell Magazine supports International Roma Day

“Unite and Celebrate: A Band of Roma,” my lyric essay celebrating International Roma Day, is in Quail Bell Magazine. The essay revels in Romani culture, takes a hard look at Romani human rights infringements in the U.S. and Europe, honors Papusza and other important Romani artists, professionals, activists, and writers, and explores a little family history. 

An important part of today is education and awareness, and spreading the word does a lot to highlight the current Romani human rights crisis in the U.S. and Europe. A large part of the new wave of Romani activism is art and writing, which feels both beautiful and fitting, both for the Roma legacy of arts and the “GypsyRepresent” ethos. Thanks for reading, and thank you for sharing. Opre Roma!

Image        Image

International Roma Day: a day to celebrate culture and raise awareness

For my students, this is an extra-credit opportunity, and for my readers, this is a solidarity opportunity. For International Roma Day, use social media to inform your friends and followers about Romani culture and the current fight for Romani rights. You can post about it in your blog and/or take screen shots of your International Roma Day statuses, tweets, Pinterest, and Instagrams. Use hashtags wisely– for example, #nohatespeech, #RealGypsyWarrior, #OpreRoma, etc

Image

You can also take a more active stance, for instance, inform companies like Gypsy Warrior, Junk Gypsy, Band of Gypsies, and Spell and the Gypsy Collective that use the word “Gypsy” and the associated stereotypes as a brand that they are using an ethnic slur, exploiting an oppressed minority, and diminishing the fight for Romani rights. You can do this through email, Facebook, or Twitter. You can address and correct racist, offensive, stereotyping, and misinformed comments and articles about Roma. Whatever you do, take a screenshot and post it on your blog. Social media is a powerful activist tool. 

Image

Image

 

Articles:

http://www.humanrightseurope.org/2014/04/international-roma-day/

http://eyca.org/news/166/celebrate-international-romani-day-8-april-2014

https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/international-roma-day-highlights-discrimination-against-european-romani-2012-04-05

http://www.fightdiscrimination.eu/news-and-events/international-roma-day-europes-roma-community-still-facing-massive-discrimination

http://romediafoundation.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/coming-together-for-international-roma-day/

Blog 10: a free for all poem about some aspect of Romani culture (aka: the research poem) (aka: the wild card poem)

For the last poem in our series, you will write a poem inspired by any aspect of Romani culture that you wish. For this, you need to do some research. Pick an aspect of Romani culture that you’re curious about, like rituals, human rights, language, music, dance, history, beliefs, taboos, idioms, celebrations, Romani icons, spirituality, famous Roma, folklore, folk medicine, cuisine, fashion, etc… whatever you fancy. Some good places to start are ROMBASE  PatrinRADOCThe Gypsy Chronicles, and the Romedia Foundation. Also, your coursebooks We are the Romani people and Roads of the Roma will be helpful too. Then, write 300 words or more about the topic you chose, citing your (trustworthy) source, and explain what you want to achieve in your poem.

Here are some more specific examples for inspiration

Romani music

an article on Hungarian Romani music on ROMBASE

Esma Redzepova, one of the most famous Romani singers in Europe, singing Dzelem Dzelem, the Romani anthem, written to commemorate those who died in the Holocaust (O Porrajmos), and for International Roma Day, celebrated April 8th.

Balkanarama— a short list of Romani singers and musicians

 The Avalon Jazz band, Gypsy-style Parisian jazz

Bireli Lagrene, The Gipsy Project, “Minor Swing”

The Gypsy Kings, “Djobi Djoba”

Famous Roma

Papusza, the mother of Romani poetry

Matéo Maximoff,  Romani writer

Katarzyna Pollok, Romani artist

We are the Romani people has a good list of famous Roma

Romani spirituality

Romani (“Gypsy”) Religion by Dr. Ian Hancock

Patrin– Romani beliefs

Rom-facts– Roma Culture: an introduction

The Romani Goddess Kali Sara by Ronald Lee

Romani Fashion

Interview with Erika Varga of Romani Design

“Romani Fashion and the Politics of Dressing ‘Gypsy'” in Quail Bell Magazine

 

And on and on….

images (1)

 

The Romani flag