As I sadly continue to meet people all over the world that are anti Roma and being able to count the “other side” on my fingers I thought it’s time to explain why Antiziganism is so common and how it all started.
Misunderstandings about the Romani origin
Because the first Romanies came into Europe around the same time as the Turkish invaders and Islamic crusaders a lot of people thought the Romanies were connected to those events and people. In Germany they were even suspected as being Turkish spies.
Not only is the Romani history difficult for outsiders to understand, it is even common for Romanies to not know all the details about their own history. This makes it even more difficult to spread the correct information as there is so much misinformation.
Being without a country of their own
Another problem comes from the fact that the Romanies have no home country and because of this nobody to stand up for- or represent them. For example in a recent conference against intolerance all the different national delegates were allowed to speak besides the Romani as they “don’t have a country or government”. This also makes it easier for people to blame problems in their country on the Romanies when they don’t get the chance to defend themselves.
As the Romani culture encourages Romanies to keep together without much interaction with other cultures a lot of people see them as “the others” which adds to their suspicion against Romanies. This also makes getting to know their culture more difficult for outsiders, and without people understanding their origin and culture they are “mystified” and stereotyped. One example of stereotypes is the Gypsy style that many people connect to being free from work and responsibilities, similar to the hippie style.
The Romani culture also have similarities with Indian culture in occupations and way of living, which in the original homeland of the Romanies [India] have normal or even high status but in Europe are the total opposite. One example of this is the large amount of children that is seen as a fortune as well as a survival strategy in the Romani and Indian culture.
So these are some of the reasons why Antiziganism is still going strong with no trace for it to become better during any near future. One notable thing to think about is that in this modern age racism and discrimination against dark skinned people is generally looked at very negatively in most parts of the world, but at the same time the majority of people are showing Anti Roma tendencies and discrimination against them is still to this day the default.