What are we doing?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While there are real pogroms happening in European Union member countries, against Roma and Sinti; while in Italy the authorities have declared a national state of emergency over the Gypsy camps and have called out the Army; our esteemed “leaders” and academics are busy on Internet forums discussing as to whether Yul Brunner or Elvis Presley was or was not Gypsy.

Although the research into such persons of note who may have had or may have Romani bloodline and may even have followed the Way to some extent, is a valid one at the right time, presently is not that time.

It is certainly clear to me that there is little that we, who are not in Italy, or in Brussels, can do as regards in standing side-by-side with our Roma and Sinti brethren who are being persecuted, whether in Italy or in Hungary, or the Czech Republic, or elsewhere, or to annoy every EU official that we can lay our hands on until this madness is being stopped, we should discuss, at least, as to whether and what we may be able to do.

In addition to that there are the Romani refugees of the various groups in Kosovo in the IDP camps that are facing, soon, yet another bleak winter and something could and should be done for them. And then there are Romani children that need school exercise books and pencils, toys and clothes, and whatever else.

But, it would appear, that researching and discussing whether this or that public figure or personality, alive or dead, was or is Romani is much more important. One can but guess that this is easier than the other issues. Talk about priorities being all wrong.

It is therefore no wonder that the Romani People have so far gotten nowhere as yet as to any form of nationhood, not even a virtual one.

Forcing everyone to accept the title of “Roma” is not going to do it and nor does a standardized Romani language. This is all just something for the experts to play with.

Unity cannot be forced and no one can be coerced into any sort of unity; you do not get one on such a basis. It would be better then that those that do not see themselves as Roma, like the majority of the grassroots Sinti – no Astroturf there – and Romanichals, and other Romani, would have a confederation of their own that then might co-operate with the likes of the International Roma(ni) Union but not be a full part of it, under the false term “Roma”.

While we are all – with the exception of those that are not – Romani-Gypsy we are simply not all Roma. Which part of the word “not” do those who are constantly advocating the use the term “Roma” for all Romani-Gypsy do not understand? It is not that difficult, it it now. Then again, some seem to be educated so far beyond their capacity that they just cannot grasp the obvious. But, I digressed again.

While unity under the false title of “Roma” cannot be forced, solidarity does not and should not depend on any acceptance of the term. While, personally, like many Sinti and Romanichals, I cannot and will not accept the term “Roma” as an ascription of myself, I still feel for my Roma brethren of the Romani People. But there is not even a solidarity anywhere. Everyone is to busy discussing things that are at this moment entirely irrelevant.

Why does it seem so important to discuss, at this moment in time when there are much more pressing issues at hand for the Romani People, as to whether Yul Brunner, even though he seems to have claimed in his lifetime that he is of Gypsy descent, lives the life, or others of who it is said that they are Rom do or did?

Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.

However, let all of look at how we can help those Rom, of whatever group, that may be less fortunate than ourselves. Each and everyone of us, in their small or larger ways, I am sure, can do something.

I, for one, use this here to hopefully rattle some cages and wake some people up to what is important and what rather not at this time.

Food for thought I should hope...

© M Smith (Veshengro), August 2008