I want to be a colorful bohemian carefree gypsy, I want to be…
The most cherished and highest value the Gypsy people have is their freedom. I have been asked to stop using the word GYPSY and because of this I am inspired to write the following. I do not believe in censuring of any kind and especially of a word so beautiful and representational as GYPSY!
So I decided to write this Jenn, late 20’s, living in Louisville with her hubby and blogging about whatever crosses her mind…who decided to try to prohibit me from using the word GYPSY…feeling that because she wrote something she has the right to ban people from their freedom of speech. orginal post
I must say I quite enjoyed writting this and had some lovely memories in the process. I will say the history part might be a bit repetitive.
Why don’t we start with a bit of GYPSY history?
It is possible to trace Gypsies back to their origin: the Sind area of India (today south central Pakistan — the mouth of the Indus). Three separate emigrations occurred over the course of about four hundred years, traceable today in three identifiable linguistic populations: the Eastern Gypsy (Domari) in Egypt and the Middle East, the Central Gypsy (Lomavren) in Armenia and eastern Turkey, and the Western Gypsy in Europe(Romani) (Romany refers to the people, Romani refers to the language, Rom refers to a man or the people as a whole.
THESE ARE THE ONLY “GYPSIES” YOU MENTION IN YOU “ESSAY”.
I want to make the observation that although this last group is the population most widely dealt with it is not the only one that exists.
…and contrary to your definition of Gypsy as a SLUR…quote ”First, gypsy is a slur. No matter what you think, it has been a slur for centuries”. Gypsy (or Gipsy) originates from the Greek word for “Egyptian”, Αιγύπτιοι (Aigyptioi, whence modern Greek γύφτοι gifti), in the belief that the Romanies, or some other Gypsy groups (such as the Balkan Egyptians), originated in Egypt. (by the way its very easy to find in Wikipedia)
Next. This is where I, and many others like me get the idea of “GYPSIES” as...quote, “Being free spirited, moving from place to place,” (as you so ardently criticized us in your essay for believing) Only maybe because THEY ARE and they have been nomads for centuries and here is why….
The cultural group that would later become the Gypsies led a semi-nomadic life in India, and has been tentatively identified as the Dom, which has been recorded as far back as the sixth century. The Dom performed various specialized jobs such as basket-making, scavenging, metal-working and entertainment, traveling a circuit through several small villages each year. This semi-nomadic life allowed the Dom the opportunity to easily flee when battles threatened the area in which they lived, and apparently did so three times during the Middle Ages. The European Gypsies are perhaps the original refugees from Mahmud of Ghanzi’s wars, for all sixty Romani dialects contain Armenian words, suggesting that they passed through Armenia in the early 11th century on the way into the Byzantine Empire.
Again…THESE ARE THE “GYPSIES” YOU ARE PROBABLY TALKING ABOUT, THE ROMA, SINCE YOU DO LIVE IN LOUISVILLE… (KENTUCKY I’M ASSUMING?) AND I DONT REALLY THINK YOU HAVE ANY ROMA LIVING THERE AS YOUR NEIGHBOURS… (but then I could be wrong, since there have been Gypsy immigrations to America and I have actually encountered some in Mexico).
Anyway from 1100 and during the next 200 years, the Gypsies slowly advanced southwest into Arabia, Egypt and North Africa, northwest into the Byzantine Empire and established themselves in the southern Balkan countries (Serbia, Moldavia, Bulgaria, Hungary and the surrounding area) before 1300. They entered Dubrovnik (modern-day Yugoslavia) before 1362, and had blanketed the Balkans by 1400.
The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries came as close to a Gypsy Golden Age as there had ever been. Gypsies covered Thrace, Macedonia, Greece, Yugoslavia and Rumania long before the Ottoman Turks conquered those lands. There was a large population at the seaport of Modon in the 1300’s, on the most popular route to the Holy Land, settled in the Gypsy Quarter, a tent-city just outside the city walls sometimes called Little Egypt. This exposure to pilgrims and the attitudes and privileges accorded to them may have led the Gypsies to adopt pilgrim personas once they spread into Western Europe.
By 1417, Gypsies were recorded in Germanic cities. In 1418, several thousand Gypsies under a leader called Count Michael showed up in Strassbourg. Gypsies were entering Brussels and Holland by 1420, Bologna in 1422, and showing up in Rome in July of that same year. They travelled into Spain by 1425 and Paris by 1427. By the middle of the century, rulers and town governments started banning Gypsies, usually citing theft, fortunetelling, begging and sometimes espionage as the reasons.
At this point their meteoric expansion westward stopped for almost a century. Groups traveled east from the Balkans into Russia, establishing themselves in Siberia by the early sixteenth century but they did not enter Great Britain until 1514, probably because a completely separate ethnic group, the Tinkers, already occupied Britain and performed the same roles Gypsies did in other countries: nomadic entertainers, knife-grinders, pot-menders, woodworkers, transient field employees and so forth. The impetus to enter the British Isles was probably given by late fifteenth century Spanish policies ruling against and banishing Gypsies. With nowhere else to go, they entered Britain, then finally Norway in 1544 and Finland in 1597.
Yes Jenn, the Gypsies have been persecuted and hunted… but so have the Jews… and I hope you don’t start censuring references to the word JEW, or try to keep me and others from posting for example “I want to be a errant Jew and travel the world”, because you find it’s a negative and stereotypical association that could disrespect the jewish people? Yes, the identity of the Gypsy as a separate people is still strong enough for them to remain the brunt of prejudice and hatred, a fact hammered home by the killing of half a million by the Nazis during World War II. Now, it may only be a few generations until any idea of nomadism is leached out of almost all Gypsies, but still NO, you have no right to try to censure a word.
…and YES I agree there is violence, racisim and hatred against the Roma people going on at the moment, and all those things we know about. But again, that does not give YOU the right to censure and prejudge ME, or for that case any other who’s intentions are clearly non discriminatory. If you are truly interested in doing something for the Romani people maybe you should get more involved and become an advocate for human rights, travel to the countries where the live and are being persecuted, support and defend them, act and not just talk Jenn…but please, don’t tell me I can’t put the word GYPSY on my humble tumblr blog, because its truly pathetic.
And now another huge NO to your, quote “When you dress like this, you are spitting in the face of that culture” if I do dress like these images I posted, which I really don’t, just sometimes wish I did because they inspire me. I love the flowy dresses, long skirts so used in Flamenco, the colorful scarfs, the lovely freedom their clothing allows the body, the natural movement it has, but that you so sadly tinted with uglyness…Quote ”It contributes to the fetishization and sexualization of the Roma. Women are assaulted physically and sexually, because of this type of thing. They are raped, simply because they are believed to be “Easy” because of these “Positive stereotypes” you’re so quick to buy into”. Jenn, wow, thats a bit quick to judge dont you think?
Personally through posting these images I am celebrating the beauty of a culture I happen to appreciate and respect greatly, a culture I have had the opportunity to encounter in various occasions in my life and for which I have a high regard for its traditions and its people. Funny enough this winter I bought an original Roma vintage blouse from Roma Gypsies in Berlin selling at the Christmas market, who have absolutely no problem in me “dressing like this”.
So in general I think you are WRONG, and although I do see the good intention behind your cries, I also see a terrible ignorance, great anger and frustration that is being sheltered in the form of a blog. I believe the problem is not in naming something, that is what language is for: the problem is in the intention behind the language: tha is the true racism, the true hatred and the violence; those things unfortunately exist in a realm so tangible, so true that its beyond the written word, its reality. THIS my fellow blogger is something I will never be a part of.
So please, I know you feel you are defending a cause, and by all means keep it up but leave my humble blog alone, let me enjoy the beauty these images and these people. THE GYPSIES have shown me and given to the world great beauty, far from the trouble let me be inspired by their music, their dance, their clothing… their freedom, color and joy, their nomadic spirit and great love of life. Let me enjoy the image the word GYPSY brings to my head, without your making it feel like a dirty word. For me it stands for so much more than the racism and violence you see, for me it brings back amazing memories. It evokes all the times I’ve danced flamenco with the Gitanos in the caves in Granada, Spain, or been in dark smoky tablaos in Madrid as a student, or read Garcia Lorca talking about “El Duende” and the Gypsy Cante Hondo. All the times the Yugoslavian Roma girls came to my apartment in Naples for coffee and glypse at a Payos life, me, but more than that I erned their trust and they were my friends! Or memories of long conversations with the old Mexican gypsy of Romanian descent that had the stance of a queen, long flowy skirts, eyes like the sky and a green parrot on her shoulder, I don’t know how she managed but the cigarette never fell off her mouth. She was part of a family of Gypsies that traveled around the coast of Mexico taking cinema to the most remote places in the country, memories of dancing, singing, eating fish with our hands in the middle of their caravans, surrounded by goats, chickens, children and laughter. All this is what the word GYPSY means to me. As does the memory of my Flamenco teacher in New York City: Teresita La Tana, holding on to stories of past glory, dancing in the theaters of New York for presidents and having standing ovations, she was old but still a proud beautiful Gypsy that mastered the castanets like nobody I’ve seen.
So I suggest you end this censuring of others, specially when there is no real call for it and its just an expresion of an obvious frustration you are not handling correctly, this going around looking for the Tag “Gypsy” and pointing your righteous little finger…saying (quote)“YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO THESE THINGS”. because you become just as much fascist as the people that you are are beating the Roma Gypsies for having such a strong sense of self expressed in their culture. So I say I resist! I resist you and what you stand for, the same as they have resisted for millennia to be quieted. I have every right to these things. I have a Gypsy spirit, Gypsy is also an idea, a concept, not only a people, I have traveled the world and call it all my home, and I will continue to say Gypsy, gypsy, gypsy …or “Atzinganoi,” the Byzantine term or “Zigeuner” in German or the French “Tsiganes,” in Italian “Zingari,” the Hungarian “Cziganyok.” Romanian “Roma” and the spanish, with whom I’ve had most contact “GITANOS” and can say in my mother tongue! VIVA LA LIBERTAD!
How dare you.
HOW FUCKING DARE YOU try and monopolize our history this way. You think one website tells you everything about our history? You think that we are not aware that there are many different kinds of people labeled under the slur of gypsy.
You have no right to appropriate the word. Wikipedia is edited by people, and unfortunately people like you keep putting in that ‘gypsy’ is a lifestyle or clothing choice. As many times as I take that out, some asshole replaces it.
It’s only in the US that people act like this. So pretentious and privileged as to have no regard for others.
I saw your original post but did not reply. I was too angry. Too upset.
I’ve explained nicely, I’ve avoided replying, but I CANNOT STAND WHEN PEOPLE LIKE YOU TRY TO USE OUR OWN HISTORY AGAINST US, as if we were some how ignorant of our own travel and our own past. I know more about any of that than you’ll ever be able to copy-paste from Wikipedia.
There is only ONE REASON that Roma and other groups have been nomads for centuries—and that is because of bigotry and hatred which has forced us to move whether we wanted to or not. You think your photos are innocent, but they are misrepresenting a whole group of people and only aiding in the mystification and romanticization which is often cited even in these cases. Oh but they’re nomads, they can go live somewhere else….
Also, your comparison to the word Jew is ridiculous and deliberately inflammatory. Don’t you know that the word Jew is actually what the people are called? It is NOT a racial slur. Yes, the Jews suffered in the Holocaust, as did my people, but the word was never applied to them as a purely racial slur as the word gypsy has been. The word was NEVER a positive word, even from it’s beginnings (the first written account in the 1300s by Simon Symeonis a Franciscan Monk who traveled from Ireland to Crete in Greece where he called the “Gypsies” accursed of Heaven and doomed to wander. Nice huh?
You think that your blog is just a blog. Just as you think the word gypsy is just a word. You fail to see the consequence of your actions. Your blog does not just fall into some vacuum in cyberspace. It is indexed and logged and recycled every day by Google and other search engines. When you use the word, you are putting it out there—in the world—for many thousands of people to see.
That is a racist viewpoint. Would you say then, that you also have the right to use the word Nigger? or Spick? Because they are the same kinds of words. You really need to check your privilege and stop walking all over us.
You’re just showing your ignorance and privilege, which by the way, is a very ugly combination.