The truth about the word “Gypsy”

I spoke to Brut media about the harmful use of the racial slur “Gypsy” and “gypped.” I see the word used so often in writing, media, brands, and few people know that it refers to the Romani people, and reinforces negatives stereotypes about us like nomadism, curses, thievery, and promiscuity. Many Americans believe that the word Gypsy actually means thief, nomad, curse-thrower, or ‘slut,’ and this erases Romani identity at a crucial time while we are fighting for our rights, and associates the real Romani people with theses stereotypes. I am proud of my Romani heritage and I want people to understand who we are. I’ve written many articles on other aspects of Romani culture, which you can find on my Writing page.¬†If you know someone who uses this word, even if they think they are using it in a positive way, you might like to gently and lovingly educate them on the power of language and the history of this slur. Thanks for watching!

Watch the video below
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Presenting at NYU’s Romani/Gypsy Arts & Letters Conference

I’m so excited to announce that I will be presenting my essay,¬†“Esmeralda Declines an Interview,” published in¬†The Missouri Review blog at The Romani/Gypsy Arts & Letters Conference at New York University, April 23rd-24th. I’m even more excited to hear and meet my fellow presenters.

A little more about the conference– hope to see you there!

Opre Khetanes IV Concert and Conference on Romani (Gypsy) Musics and Cultures represents a major gathering on the East Coast of scholars of Romani culture and Roma who work as academics, activists, and/or performers. Presentations will be made by established scholars and by graduate students with expertise in Romani studies.
 
In the conference portion of Opre Khetanes IV, Romani/Gypsy Arts and Letters, artists, activists, and scholars in the fields of musicology, anthropology, Romani studies and related disciplines will deliver presentations on subjects related to the representation of Romani people by themselves and/or others.Opre Khetanes IV will also feature a film screening and a panel discussion.
 
The conference is free and open to the public.  No pre-registration is required.

What is Literary Activism? A chorus of voices answers in The Poetry Foundation

Activism-quote-by-Alice-WalkerAmy King, WNBA Award Winner, member of¬†VIDA¬†Executive Committee, and Women’s National Book Award winner, has now asked us all “What is Literary Activism?” and then answered it for the Poetry Foundation, but the coolest thing in the world about Amy is that she takes all of her actions seriously. Her angle is that literary activism is about inclusivity and visibility. So what does she do? She asks a diverse array of writers to answer the question along with her. I am so honored to be among them talking about the necessity of Romani literary activism, because as far as I’m concerned, the very act of writing is activism ¬†for Roma. So read Amy, and read¬†Samiya Bashir,¬†Rosebud Ben-Oni,¬†Ana BoŇĺińćevińá,¬†Emily Brandt,¬†Ken Chen,¬†Melissa Febos,¬†Suzi F. Garcia,¬†Eunsong Kim,¬†Jason Koo,¬†Lynn Melnick,¬†Shane McCrae,¬†Laura Mullen, H√©ctor Ram√≠rez,¬†Metta S√°ma,¬†Melissa Studdard,¬†and Arisa White!

Write your activism, baby! Opre Roma!

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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‚Äôt 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 RaiРI love you to bits.

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

My love letter to “Political Punch” and Gypsy poems

I don’t know if you read¬†Juan Vidal’s NPR essay “Where Have All The Poets Gone?”— it’s a smart, well-intentioned¬†lament of the lack of American political poetry since the Beat Poets. Many readers, myself included, respectfully and optimistically¬†disagree. Perhaps, since all of the poets he mentioned were white men, Vidal’s scope was too small, because it seems to me that political poetry is thriving on the voices of the systemically oppressed rising-up. But I think Vidal and I both agree where it really counts– we need more political poetry in America and we need more people to read it and care.
In response to Vidal’s essay, Fox Frazier-Foley curated “Political Punch.” It’s a week-long series of diverse American political poets, featured at The The Poetry Blog in The Infoxicated Corner. The poets included thus far are CA Conrad with a poem about LGBT representation,¬†Anne Barngrover with a poem about the rape of Daisy Buchanon, and Christopher Soto (aka Loma) with a poem about the need to revolutionize the prison system. These poets, whom I am honored to be listed among,¬†are a reflection of the many types of poets who write their art and politics, who speak up, shake it up, and rise up. Vidal, by the way, has been very supportive of the endeavor and extremely kind.
Here’s the link to my Opre Roma-style political poems “Murder and Tradition” and “Transfiguration of the Black Madonna”¬†http://www.thethepoetry.com/2014/09/infoxicated-corner-political-punch-poems-by-jessica-reidy/¬†“Murder and Tradition” is inspired by real events that transpired in Italy— Roma girls Violetta and Cristina really did drown, and that camp really was torched– it’s all too terrible. And I wrote “Transfiguration” at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Yoga and Writing Retreat, so all those craft talks, workshops, and inspiration exercises paid-off! It’s about the Romani Goddess/Saint Sarah (Kali Sara), and the non-Roma’s mythology of the Romani people. Click here for more about the Romani Goddess.
Picture taken by Sarah Sullivan during a Quail Bell Gypsy fashion shoot http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-unreal/photo-tale-free-spirits

Picture taken by Sarah Sullivan during a Quail Bell photo tale shoot for “Free Spirits” ¬†http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-unreal/photo-tale-free-spirits

“Gypsy” Jazz singer Tatiana Eva-Marie talks to Quail Bell Magazine

 

 

 

 

I want my audience to feel that they are constantly traveling with their ears.” —Tatiana Eva-Marie

Read the interview “Tatiana Eva-Marie on the harmonious fusion of Romani ‘Gypsy’ music” in Quail Bell Magazine and¬†find out what she¬†has to say about Romani music and representation, how her multicultural heritage shapes her art, growing up in theatres and concert halls all over Europe, the Music Explorer competition/documentary (click the heart to vote for her!), and her life in the Avalon Jazz Band in New York City. You can also listen to some beautiful songs from the competition. Opre Roma!

http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/interview-jazz-singer-tatiana-eva-marie

 

 

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Tatiana Eva-Marie singing with the Avalon Jazz Band