April 8 – International Romani Day

Posted on April 8, 2016

Don't call them gypsies!

The Romani people have met with stereotyping, discrimination, and outright persecution for centuries.

By the way, if you're not sure what these three words mean:
  • stereotyping” means assuming that pretty much all members of a group share certain characteristics, good or bad (such as “gypsies are thieves” or “Asian people are super smart”).
  • discrimination” means facing prejudice based on negative stereotypes (such as not being hired for a job because the boss assumes that Romani people can't be trusted, or not being welcome in a restaurant because “we don't serve that kind”).
  • persecution” means aggression, punishment, or violence (such as anti-Gypsy laws expelling Romani people from a nation, or Hitler imprisoning and killing Romani people).
Romani people still face discrimination even today, in Europe. In the U.S., things are a little more complex. Many Americans don't recognize the name “Romani” (aka “Roma” or “Romany” or "Roms"), but they associate the word “Gypsy” (aka “gipsy”) with a lifestyle rather than a people. To some extent, American perceptions of “the Gypsies” is positive – free-spirited hippy sorts who travel from place to place, wear colorful clothing, and love to sing and dance.

But even popular stereotypes are offensive, right? Why should people who don't move a lot, who don't sing or dance, and who wear "regular" or “normal” clothes have to explain over and over again, “Not all Gypsies are like that”? When an entire group of people is misrepresented – even if they are romanticized, rather than vilified – the people being misrepresented are often  understandably – angry or sad.

Some Romani people don't mind being called “Gypsies,” but many do; it is considered by many to be a racial slur. So play it safe and avoid the term.

Today is a day to celebrate the Romani people and culture. Here are some resources:

  • This is the flag of the Romani people.
    The ancestral roots of the Romani people are
    in Northern India. Can you see the similarity between
    Romani flag (above) and the flag of India (below)?

Some Romani people are very wealthy and
built and live in large, posh houses like the one above.

On the other hand, too many Romani people live in
poverty. Some of them travel about in simple wagons (below).

Above, traditional Roma dress.
Below, most Romani people wear
modern clothes most of the time.

Also on this date:

Buddha Day

Hana Matsuri, or Flower Festival, in Japan

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

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