#RomaAreEqual

In solidarity with Mitko, a 17 year old boy who was severely beaten in Bulgaria for saying that Roma are equal to non-Roma, Romani people and non-Roma alike are sharing pictures with the #RomaAreEqual. Let’s show Mitko that he’s not alone, and show the haters that Roma Rise Up. Opre Roma!

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Photo by Oscar Fuertes. P.S.– I don’t really smoke

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Esme Redzepova

For those of you in NYC this weekend, be sure to come to the Romani Arts Conference at NYU! It’s free to the public! And at the end, there will be a concert by one of the world’s best Romani singers, Esme Redzepova! If you’re not in the city, never fear. It will be live streamed.

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Romani Flag

NYU Romani Arts Conference and Concert, 4/23-4/24

 

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Esme Redzepova

If you’re in New York, be sure to head to “Opre Khetanes IV Concert and Conference
on Romani (Gypsy) Musics and Cultures” at NYU. April 23rd and 24th will be packed with presenters on Romani dance, music, art, writing, and culture, and on the evening of the 24th, the legendary Romani singer, Esme Redzepova, will give a concert. The conference is free to the public, and you can buy tickets to the concert here. I’ll be presenting my essay “Esmeralda Declines an Interview”, first published on The Missouri Review blog, and discussing the importance of Romani artists claiming their story and rallying against the ‘Gypsy as Muse’ trope. There are so many wonderful activists, musicians, dancers, scholars, and artists presenting their work and ideas– I’m so excited to hear all of these powerful Roma speak!

If you feel so moved, please spread the word with the Facebook invite. And if you can’t make it, never fear, for it will be live-streamed.

*featured photo first appeared in Quail Bell Magazine,Romanipen: Real Gypsy Looks

International Romani Day and the Necessary Integration of Romani Feminism, RomArchive

RomArchive, one of my favorite orgs, asked me to write a post for International Romani Day, April 8th. So here is my piece– International Romani Day and the Necessary Integration of Romani Feminism! Very inspired by Carmen Gheorghe and her work with E-Romnja, supporting survivors of domestic violence. So here it is! International Romani Day and the Necessary Integration of Romani Feminism. Many thanks to everyone!

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Part 2 of Romani Gypsy Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy & Book Giveaway!

In the second and final part of my essay “Romani Gypsy Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy,” over at Kate Lechler’s column “The Expanded Universe” in Fantasy Literature, I discuss Romani writers who write speculative fiction/sci-fi/fantasy/magical realism, and then I explain why these distinctions between realism and magical realism are entirely arbitrary. I also take a look at Romani folklore and trauma narratives and discuss how these elements shape contemporary Romani fiction. In short, I really enjoyed writing this and I hope you enjoy the Romani writers Caren Gussoff Sumption and Rajko Djuric, who I positively gush about in this essay. And if you leave a comment on the essay over at Fantasy Literature, you’ll be entered into a book giveaway! You people like books, right? What could be better for you?

Thanks for reading!

Esmeralda Declines an Interview: why I don’t interview for writers writing Gypsy characters

Sometimes I get requests from people to do interviews because they’re writing a Romani (Gypsy) character and want to use the life of a real live Gypsy girl to write her, and I always feel uncomfortable about the idea of divulging my life story for another writer’s creative gain. My friend, Misha Rai, urged me to turn those feelings into an essay, and because Misha’s advice is always brilliant, I did it. And now I’m honored and stunned to have “Esmeralda Declines an Interview” in The Missouri Review blog.

KickingNo offense intended to anyone who has asked me to interview with them as research for their book. It’s wonderful that you want to write well-rounded Romani characters, and I’m flattered that you thought of me. If you are struggling to include Romani characters in your work, then my advice to you is this: “If you want to be inclusive, then read and support the writers you want to include. Don’t ask to take our lives for your own gain.” I’m sure your intentions aren’t nefarious and I applaud your efforts to write mindfully. Just be mindful in your research too.

A good resource for you to find Romani writers is ‘ list of Romani Authors. I also have a list of “20 Gypsy Women You Should Be Reading” at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. There are many more places to look, but this is a good start.

Happy reading! And thank you to The Missouri Review and Misha Rai– I love you to bits.

P.S. Check out “Housewives, Mothers” by Misha in The Indiana Review– it’s one of my favorite stories.

May 16th: Romani Resistance Day

“The Forgotten History of Romani Resistance,” Open Society Foundations, by Pierre Chopinaud

“On the evening of May 16, 1944, in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, SS guards armed with machine guns surrounded the area of the camp designated for Roma and Sinti prisoners. Their intent was to round up the nearly 6,000 prisoners there and send them to the gas chambers. But when the guards approached the area, they were met with armed resistance from the inmates.

The prisoners had learned of the planned ‘liquidation’ and fashioned weapons from sheet metal, wood, pipes, rocks, and any other scraps of material they could get their hands on. According to the memories of survivors and witnesses to the incident, the inmates forced the guards into retreat, and though some prisoners were shot that night, the act of resistance allowed the Roma and Sinti prisoners to put off execution for several more months.

How can such an epic episode have been lost to history? Who knows about the Sonderkommandos revolt of August 1944? Who knows about Witold Pilecki, who infiltrated Auschwitz to organize its resistance network? Keeping alive the memories of these events could help prevent such crimes from happening again in the future.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article here. If you want to help spread awareness on social media, use these hashtags #RomaniResistanceDay #RomaniResistance #may16. I like to throw in #Gypsy too because that hashtag is (mis)used so much to perpetuate absurd Gypsy stereotypes that it’s helpful when something real comes up under that umbrella.

Image courtesy of ternYpe, the International Roma Youth Network

Image courtesy of ternYpe, the International Roma Youth Network