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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Baxtalo Ederlezi!

Image by Judy Paris

Image by Judy Paris

Ederlezi, the Romani (Gypsy) Spring Festival, is one of my very favorite holidays. It’s celebrated with dancing, eating, singing a hauntingly beautiful folk song, and literally throwing flowers everywhere. Flowers in your house, flowers on your lawn, flowers in the river, flowers in the sea…. How could anyone not love this?

My favorite rendition of the Ederlezi folksong is performed by Tatiana Eva Marie of the Avalon Jazz Band. I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with the very smart and talented Tatiana in Quail Bell Magazine.

Another exciting Quail Bell surprise just in time for the holiday– Rita Banjerjee’s mistranslation poems were just released, including one poem inspired by my lackluster performance of Ederlezi at our last Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Writing & Yoga Retreat in France. Speaking of which, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop summer retreat deadlines for both Paris and Granada have been extended to May 25th. So Baxtalo Ederlezi! Have a beautiful and fortune-blessed Spring– hope to see you this summer!

Apply Now!

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International Roma Day! Share, celebrate, raise awareness

 

INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY – CELEBRATIONS OF A ROMANI EMANCIPATION MOVEMENT BEING BORN

 

Let us take you through a brief history of how our flag, language and anthem were officially recognized. In the end, embrace with us our diversity and hop on board for our visual journey, ‘from the caravan to the palace’:

 

Forty-three years have passed since the First World Roma Congress was held in Orpington, near London, in 1971. Officially, 8th of April was ratified as an International Celebration Day during the 4th World Romani Congress held in Poland, in 1990. Since then, this date has had a special place in the calendar of all Roma, as it marks an important moment in the history of the Romani Emancipation Movement. It became the day during which we celebrate the International Roma Day, a day to bring forth our beautiful, diverse culture and traditions, but also one of remembrance. The many hardships Romani people faced along the history, from the early days of their arrival in Europe, to the dire conditions they are still confronted with in today’s society, should not be forgotten in our quest for dignity.

 

http://romediafoundation.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/international-roma-day-celebrations-of-a-romani-emancipation-movement-being-born/

Romani Flag

Romani Flag

 

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SPEAK OUT! AND BE THE CHANGE On The International Romani Day! 

In light of today’s celebration, the International Romani Day, here is a picture with Alina Covaci Taba, one of the 5 women who wished to “Speak Out and Be the Change” and was along-side the Romedia Foundation when the “I’m a Roma woman” campaign started.
“We are five Roma women who wish to build a movement powered by us Roma women to shape our own image and empower ourselves and our communities as we share our experiences, our view of current issues, our vision of the future.”
SPEAK OUT! BE THE CHANGE!

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I’m a Roma Woman campaign video— 5 powerful Roma women speaking out for change. Join the campaign!

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Esma Redzepova sings The Romani Anthem to honor those Roma and Sinti who perished in O Porrajmos, the Holocaust

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A video history of Romani and Traveller people http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6wSLfGBVGY

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What can I do today? 

For International Roma Day, use social media to inform your friends and followers about Romani culture and the current fight for Romani rights. You can post about it in your blog and/or take screen shots of your International Roma Day statuses, tweets, Pinterest, and Instagrams. Use hashtags wisely– for example, #nohatespeech, #RealGypsyWarrior, # RomaDay #RomaRights #OpreRoma

You can also take a more active stance, for instance, write articles, organize protests, inform companies like Gypsy WarriorJunk GypsyBand of Gypsies, and Spell and the Gypsy Collective that use the word “Gypsy” and the associated stereotypes as a brand that they are using an ethnic slur, exploiting an oppressed minority, and diminishing the fight for Romani rights. You can do this through email, Facebook, or Twitter. You can address and correct racist, offensive, stereotyping, and misinformed comments and articles about Roma. Social media is a powerful activist tool. 

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Some of my pieces about Romani rights and representation:

“Gypsy Soul: Romani fashion and the politics of dressing ‘Gypsy’”  essay in Quail Bell Magazine

“Real Gypsy Looks” photo shoot in Quail Bell Magazine

“Romani Looks, Romani Blood, Romani Challenges: Blond Gypsy Angels” essay in Quail Bell Magazine

“Free Spirits” photo tale and poem in Quail Bell Magazine

“We Rise Up” Short Story of the Week in Narrative Magazine, Pushcart nominated

 

Forced sterilization: Europe is still torturing Romani women

For the story, read “FORCED STERILIZATION OF ROMANI WOMEN – A PERSISTING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION” on the Romedia Foundation blog http://romediafoundation.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/forced-sterilization-of-romani-women-a-persisting-human-rights-violation/

Forced sterilization is still happening to Romani women. This would not happen if governments saw Roma as people instead of pestilence. This injustice certainly casts as pall on all those “sexy Gypsy” stereotypes. It doesn’t help matters when the media misrepresents Romani women as hypersexualized animals/objects. For more on this, read Ian Hancock’s article “The ‘Gypsy’ stereotype and the sexualization of Romani women.”

The only way to fight this is to speak up, demand justice, and make damn sure that no one forgets.

“While human rights can be violated by individuals or by institutions, they can only be defended by institutions. The European Court of Human Rights does not deal with single individuals who have committed crimes. Rather, it focuses on why the government in question could not take action against what happened. But where are the doctors, politicians and all the people who personally contributed to or carried out such surgeries, and when they are going to take responsibility for their actions? In order to take action against this human rights violation, blaming the Communist regime is not enough. The practice continues today and forcibly sterilized Romani women are still a long way from receiving true justice.” —Galya Stoyanova