VIDA’s list of Twenty ‘Gypsy’ Women You Should Be Reading

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Portrait of Papusza, the mother of Romani poetry

I’m so delighted to share my Twenty Gypsy Women You Should be Reading with everyone In honor of Roma and Traveller History Month,. Gypsy culture is vastly misunderstood and underrepresented, and literature is a beautiful way to discover it. You may not have heard of many of these writers before but they will astound you with their talent. Happy reading!

“And while I spend a lot of time on my soap box bellowing that Roma and Travellers are just human, as a storyteller and a poet, I will say that some of the most beautiful, dark, and hauntingly fantastic stories I’ve ever heard or read have been from Gypsies. It’s a MathildeVonThieleworld-view that outsiders would never be able to reach on their own, and I feel this poignantly as a not-quite-white looking girl who grew up knowing that, way back, her Gypsy ancestors sailed up and down the Danube from Germany to Hungary, working as dancers and fortune tellers in the riparian towns before the war tore everything to shreds. Their lives were not idyllic, but the stories my grandmother told were beautiful. I would hold them close to my chest when I was stoned at school, or given detention for “witchcraft and the evil eye” in a town where there were no Gypsies, where my mother and grandmother routinely referred to the Gypsy community (some abstract thing I imagined) as “they” instead of “we.” I worried about my “percentage of Gypsy” and whether or not it was enough to claim. The few practices my grandmother kept and passed down to me didn’t make sense until I began to research my own people when I was a teenager and realized that alienation is also inheritance. I found Papusza, the Mother of Romani poetry and an omen of exile and connection. I stepped into the river-mouth of my blood.”

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My great-great grandmother Mathilde as a young dancer

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“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

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Tatiana Eva-Marie singing with the Avalon Jazz Band

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

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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. 

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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/

Romani women making films and taking names! Opre Roma!

Faces of Change is a powerful documentary on the representation of Romani women and the strong, successful, professional Romani women who are raising awareness and making changes for the better. 

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BUVERO- Roma Women Citizen Journalism training- Sheja short Film

“Any violent act committed only against women that causes or may cause physical, sexual or mental damage is considered violence against women; including any threats of these acts, coercion or any arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the public or private sphere.

Violence against women is the most extreme form of women’s discrimination; however, it is only one form of discrimination. The low representation of women in politics (only 8% of the Hungarian members of Parliament are women), the disqualification from and prohibition of learning and exercising the right to vote (in Hungary the women can only vote since 1945 regardless of their financial situation), the “glass ceiling” at work that prevents women from getting promoted, the disparity in salaries between men and women, these are all examples of negative discrimination of women in society.

At the BUVERO Women’s Media Camp, the four members of the team Sheja, led by Kristóf Asbót and Miklós Barna, created a film interpretation of this topic. This short movie is the result of their work in which the four debuting Roma filmmakers introduce themselves.”

Welcome ENC1142-01!

The Spring semester has commenced and here we are. The deal is that I post blog prompts here, and you respond to them in you own blog post in 300 words or more. Each blog will have its own specific instructions. You also need to leave a 100 word or more comment on a classmate’s blog– your classmates are all listed on the blog roll. It needs to be a thoughtful, specific, and respectful response to the blogger’s post– ideally, we’re fostering a discussion. Extra comments and extra class-relevant posts (you could post about Romani culture, Romani writers, writing in general, Romani issues, articles about writing and/or Romani arts and culture… etc) will count as extra-credit.

I suggest that you follow the blog so that you always know when it’s updated. You can always “unfollow” after the semester is finished, if you like, or you can hang around. Aside from the (mandatory) assigned blog posts, I’ll post extra class-relevant things from time to time and you can post responses to them for extra credit if you like, or you can just check them out.

Opre Roma!

 

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Roma Demo French Embassy – Photo Copyright: “Stalingrad ONeill”

Image source: www.indymedia.org.uk