11 April, 2014

The Mask

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Category: European Action Day, Guest writer, Opinion, Roma
Community Manager
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roma maskBy Sebijan Fejzula

I am Sebijan Fejzula, young Romani girl from Republic of Macedonia, currently living in Hungary, Budapest, doing my MA Gender studies in the Central European University. Two years ago when I moved to Budapest I met a lot of young Roma people from all over the Europe and within that I met the different life experience of the Roma people full with discrimination, stereotypes, prejudices and hate speech. However, the most shocking part was when I became aware that some Roma were/are hiding their identity. And me as a proud Romani girl I was angry and yes I did judged them…..but very soon I realized the circumstances and their reasons for doing that.

Bernard Rorke in the article, Anti-Gypsyism: new title……, states thatthe Roma, Europe’s largest ethnic minority, became the losers in the system changes that swept the region since 1989 – two decades on the Roma are the most impoverished, the most despised, and the most excluded citizens in the brave new world of multi-party democracy and the free market economy. The Romani population in Europe today is variously estimated at between 7 and 10 million people”[1].

Moreover, he provides some samples of the on-line responses published by ROMEA that provides some flavor of 21st Century anti-Gypsyism in Central Europe”:

Mirek Cech Mašek:  Hitler unfortunately didn’t finish the job

Jiří Zachrla:  He could have completed it and we wouldn’t have to deal with these scum

Lenka Viktorová:  Them again – shoot the vermin, right?!! ….

Jiří Kračman:  We should use a bulldozer to push that rabble into the Danube. They can all swim back to wherever they came from…

Mirda Čechlík: Well if it’s not enough for the brown Czechs, next time they won’t get NOTHING! Then once again we will all be a band of racists and volunteer thieves. So next time let people take care of the decent folks who don’t turn their noses up at bread and tea. We shouldn’t give a shit about the others! As far as danger goes, it’s a shame that waste isn’t radioactive.

Andrea Flídrová:  They don’t have any upbringing, the swine, they should leave the Czech Republic!

Oldřich Machala:  Up against the wall and shoot them, or drive them into the quarries, surround them, and let them die of hunger if they don’t want a bullet to the skull.

Naďa Pastorková:  Those illiterate thieves! If it weren’t for the Czechs, they would be eating roots and pitching tents, they’d be going to the toilet in holes, the ungrateful bastards! I am getting sicker and sicker of them. Move them far away, these Neanderthal drug users don’t belong in a civilized society! As far away as possible, let them govern themselves, maybe they’ll all kill one another off, then we’d have peace and quiet!

(Source: Romea.cz)[2]

Oh yes, now I do know! The need to feel safe, secure, hoping for better life have “pushed” many Roma people to hide their identity. Therefore, I have decided to write this monologue, whose aim is to ask who really constructs our ethnic, sexual, religion and race identity. Based on which circumstances? What happens when the intersectionality come across? Through this monologue I claim that everything that is the opposite of White Christians middle class group is considered as abnormality. Moreover, I claim that the colonialist point of view considered that the Roma women –and also the Roma people in general- are more backward that the rest of the non Roma Muslim women. Beyond this position is the idea that the only model of emancipation of women is the model of the European or American non Roma Muslim woman and denies the possibility of creating new ways of emancipation that can respect the cultural differences.

The Mask!

Ah how, how they can be proud of being Roma and Muslim. Why my parents cannot see that it is so bad to be Roma, especially Muslim in this society. I hate the Roma population; I hate them for having black skin, and for me being connected with them. I cannot hear anymore: “the smelly Muslim gypsy girl”. I wish I could be like my friends. They are white, Christians and middle class girls. The some people from West do not accept me because I am Muslim, and the Europe sees me as “the problem”. I really cannot hold this struggle anymore, I have to do something, something that will not bring me any problems related with my ethnicity, religion and race. “Aha, that means get rid of them, hide from them Sebi, and do not tell anyone publicly that you’re “the gypsy girl” as they call you”. OK, if I do this, I am sure that I will have a better education, employment and much much better access everywhere. I will not give anyone reasons to think I am a Romani Muslim woman.

Look at me now after 10 years, I’ve graduated from college and built a career. I am white, Christians just like my friends. On the superficial, I’ve created a good life. I am living the White dream. But I am still a Romani Muslim woman. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means painfully, doing things I know are wrong. Never attending anything related with Roma, never talking about my culture and tradition, forgetting my own language. Just being someone else, and not the real me!!

What is the worst I hated my people, I was blaming them for me being discriminated and hated. Just because I wanted a better life. A life without hate speech, racism and discrimination. Yes, it was easier for me to be part of the system, instead to fight against the system. Does this make me selfish? Was this the only way I could have a better life? To whom should I say sorry? Or should society tell me sorry for being such? Amin Maalouf said: “Every individual is a meeting ground for many different allegiances, and sometimes these loyalties conflict with one another and confront the person who harbors them with difficult choices”[3].

“Let me name the problem – the problem are the Roma people – the 10-12 million European citizens who live almost everywhere, not only in Bulgaria and Romania, most of them living in horrid poverty conditions,” said Reding at a conference in the European Parliament, organised by Bulgarian MEP Maria Gabriel and Romanian MEP Cristian Dan Preda. “Let’s be honest, this is our problem.”[4] Would you all agree with her?

Message:. You, yourself, your way of dressing, dancing, eating, talking, singing, walking, You, with your skin colour, You with your knowledge about the different religion and cultural practices will contribute on creating a new world based on mutual respect of diversity. Be the ambassador of diversity.


[1] Bernard Rorke, Anti-Gypsyism: new title……, in: 1989, 2011 and Other Free Speech Narratives (Ed. Peter Molnar, forthcoming in 2014 by Central European University Press).

[2] František Kostlán, ‘Analysis: How to produce hate, or, Roma, the Czech floods, and the YMCA,’ ROMEA http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/analysis-how-to-produce-hate-or-roma-the-czech-floods-and-the-ymca#

roma mask[3]  Amin MaaloufIn the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

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