Hiding our Gypsy Ethnicity – Does that protect us?

The simple answer would be NO.

It has been going on for ages already, but seems to have really only been done since after World War II whether in places such as Germany or Austria or in the UK. While it is understandable for Sinti and Roma in Germany, especially, to have gone more or less into hiding and denying their ethnicity, especially those that have moved into houses and more or less “ordinary” jobs or into trade, such as scrap yards, and claiming to be of Italian extraction or other southern such but it makes no difference. In the UK one nowadays hears the comments from Romanichals when asked whether they be Gypsy, People with names like Brazil (find me a non-Rom by that name), and the answer more often then not will be, “our grandparents were Gypsies but we are not, we live in a house”. Is that, though, a deliberate hiding of their ancestry? In fact in most cases it is not but just a lack of understanding of the fact that being Gypsy is not a lifestyle but that we are a People and a Race.
However, it would appear that here, but especially in places such as Germany, Austria, France, etc. one might find the Sinti and Roma pretending to be somethings else than what they are and are in fact, at least to outsiders, hiding their ethnicity. It is also my belief that for that very reason many give their children Italian, Spanish or Greek sounding names, such as Marco, Sandro, Pedro, Massimo, Giovanni, and such, in order so that they can claim that they are of Italian or other such Mediterranean ancestry; anything but Sinti or Roma.

Methinks we have a problem and unless we all get away from pretending to be something that we are not and be in fact proud, also to the outside, that we are Sinti or Roma, that we are Gypsy, Zigeuner, with basically the attitude “I am Gypsy and proud of it” (“and if you have a problem with that so be it” - as an undertone).

We can never fight racism and discrimination against us as a People when the majority of our People hide and while wishing to have the discriminations and such go away, without in fact doing anything about it, not even joining an organization as a passive supporting member. Well, we all have to work for it; probably visibly, and I know that at times that will not be easy, but...

© M V Smith, June 2007