Talking to walls...

Much of this blog has been about inappropriate use of the word 'gypsy/gipsy' in popular culture. An example of this would be Alessandra Cave of In personal communication with this woman, she has shown no compassion, no respect and no ability to understand why what she's doing might be offensive. She seems to feel that she has every right to use that term, in any way she pleases. I'd ask again if she would feel the same if it was the word 'nigger', 'spic' or 'kike', but she doesn't seem to get that reference, or the fact that she's blogging under a racial slur.

She claims that I need to understand "her side". The problem is, she doesn't seem to understand that she doesn't have a 'side'. In all honesty, if I were her, I would be questioning why she needs the word 'gypsy' at all. What is it about herself that is not enough that she has to take from another culture? She has said herself that she has been called a 'gypsy' (again, erroneously) because she move around a lot... this is a stereotype in and of itself about my people, a stereotype which only serves to hide the truth which is that Gypsies didn't move out of choice, as she has done... they moved because they were forced to. The very fact that she has assumed this word or this identity under false pretenses is an insult to every Romani person. The fact that she is (and has always been) able to move about as she chooses, from country to country, is such a contradiction to the truth that it's an insult. People who need to take from other people's cultures (and especially one so downtrodden and persecuted) are missing something within themselves. I hope she finds it, so she can stop stealing from mine.

I previously had the impression that she was an intelligent, compassionate person. I deeply question that now as she is putting her own selfish desires to hang on to the 'magical', erroneous connotation to this word over taking the high road and acknowledging that what she is doing is insensitive and wrong, to understand that as an outsider to our culture she has no right to tell me what is and is not offensive. Saying that, essentially, "everybody else does it" is a terrible justification for insulting an entire culture.

The fact that she believes I am 'bullying' her by posting the truth in my blog proves that she isn't getting what I am saying or where I am coming from at all. I have no desire to 'fight' anyone. If I fight, it is a fight to be heard, a fight to be recognized, as a group and as a people, not as an individual. There is no personal gain here. I get no enjoyment out of this, but I feel it is necessary and I feel I owe a debt to my ancestors who suffered, to speak out. I could easily sit back on my couch and not pay it any mind, but the very fact that I *CAN* do those things, that I even have that choice at all, is why I cannot turn my back.

So, in closing I say to Alessandra Cave of, to all the hippies and teeny boppers that dress up like us for Halloween, you may never understand what it is like to see things like 'Gypsy Machine' in the craft store, or blogs and sites like yours, or a million other little things on a daily basis that reference your culture. You may never see why this new 'use' of the word doesn't erase the past. You may never comprehend what it is like to HAVE to speak out, simply because you CAN, and you know that others of your race do not have that privilege. I can't make you understand these things. I can only hope that you can put your own nonsensical attachment to what is still today a very loaded, racial term outside of this country aside and try to be compassionate. What's at stake for my people is much more than what is at stake for you.

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Special K said...

Well said, good on you for calling it out.

I am non Roma (Polish Australian in fact) but keenly aware of the situation of Romany people throughout the world. I watch my own use of language and will pull up someone even for using the phrase 'gypped' (meaning to be ripped off) as it's as racially motivated in origins as many other words. Ignorance is no excuse.

I found your blog via Native Appropriations and have posted a link to the LiveJournal Romaandfriends group. I hope you don't mind, but there are both Roma and 'friends' who are very supportive of what you're doing. :)

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