A gypsy problem or a problem with gypsies?

Always wanted to talk or ask questions of Gypsies but didn’t know how?  Now is your chance.   On Wednesday WHYS will be coming from the home of an English Gypsy.  Here’s an email from our host…

Hello everyone, my name is Jackie Boyd. I am an English Romany Gypsy living just outside of London.

Next week there will be a live show from my trailer where my wife and a few of our Romany friends will be hosting Ros and the WHYS team. We want to talk about the difficult situations Gypsies all over the world find themselves in. I would be happy for you to ring us live to talk about Gypsies, especially about  what is happening in Italy and many other countries. If you have any questions or issues you’d like to talk about, you can post it here on the blog too.

Is the treatment of Gypsies by governments and people worldwide something we deserve or not? What would the world say if you changed the name ‘Gypsy’ to ‘Muslim’, ‘Pakastani’, ‘Jew’, or ‘Arab’?  Would more people be outraged at the blatant discrimination by people in high places?  
I wonder sometimes where it all started. Is it jealousy of the supposed freedom we have? Or the wrong perceptions that we don’t pay taxes, or steal all the time or that we don’t give any thing to society.  Or is it just that I am doing something wrong? If so please tell me.

I look forward to speaking to you next Wednesday.


44 Responses to “A gypsy problem or a problem with gypsies?”

  1. 1 Pangolin-California
    October 3, 2008 at 10:13

    From the perspective of California, with many immigrant populations as well as religious groups and gangs that separate themselves from the general population the Gypsy “problem” seems flat daft.

    Deal with the subcultures in your countries as people and they will return respect in kind.

    That means zero tolerance for job discrimination, law enforcement profiling, school bullying and discrimination and fair access to higher education. No, it’s not easy. Yes, it will upset some entrenched constituancies. Well too bad because it’s cheaper than running a police state


  2. 2 Katharina in Ghent
    October 3, 2008 at 10:27

    There should be no reason for society to discriminate against gypsies, but at the same time gypsies should integrate more into the society they live in. There are parents who only sporadically send their children to school, but then, when the kids fail their grades, possibly don’t even speak the countries language, they shout “discrimination”. Also, having one child after another to reap the welfare benefits of the country while being unemployed will not bring anyone a lot of sympathy.

    I know that there are plenty of prejudices against gypsies out there, and surely most of them without any foundation, but the two cases I mentioned above I’ve seen for myself, and these are just two of the issues that need to be addressed by the gypsy community. I respect that they want to keep their own cultural identity alive, but at the same time they have to integrate better into the country they live in and start contributing to society.

  3. 3 Pangolin-California
    October 3, 2008 at 11:18

    @ Katherina~ Your quote . Also, having one child after another to reap the welfare benefits of the country while being unemployed will not bring anyone a lot of sympathy. is almost exactly what people in the US use to cover for racism directed against blacks, hispanics and poor asians.

    Women with more options have fewer children the world over. It’s likely because they realize after the second child that there are other things they might like to do with their lives than change nappies and wash dishes. If no other options are available women will build their own football team for security.

  4. 4 Caer, Australia
    October 3, 2008 at 11:29

    I feel strongly on this issue being part Roma, myself.

    Firstly I think we need to redefine the term and make the clear distinction between the (modern trend) ”New Age Travellers” and the True Gypsy.

    Luckily I’m Welsh, where, especially in the North, most folk are generally welcoming of our kind and appreciate us for what we are especially when asking us to use our Gifts for which they’re more than happy to ‘cross our palms with silver’.

    However, in England, it’s almost a dirty word and I take great exception to the term ‘Pikey’.

    I have lived in a number of countries and the ‘itchy feet’ does seem part of our heritage (I’m in my 50th home now & am nowhere near that age), but I’ve also always contributed – I hold 3 Doctorates and a number of other certified qualifications – and yes, I have a large family, but they’re all educated and capable of making a life for themselves these days.

    I could go on but instead I’ll be keenly reading the Blog and listening to the programme.


  5. 5 Katharina in Ghent
    October 3, 2008 at 12:58

    @ Pangolin

    I knew I would make myself unpopular with what I wrote, maybe gypsies are the only group where I have racist feelings. It’s just that I can’t help myself on this issue, here in Europe we have gypsies living in pretty much every single country, and everywhere the problems/issues seem to be the same. High dropout at school, low employment and complaints about discrimination.

    Admittedly, I don’t know a big lot about gypsies, and Caer in Australia shows that being of gypsy decent doesn’t mean that you can’t excel in school, but still there seems to be a pattern there that gypsies themselves have to break. Jews have always been discriminated as well, but they took the escape forwards and got highly educated, and look where they are now. I don’t think that this comparison is far fetched when you look at it historically.

  6. 6 Roberto
    October 3, 2008 at 13:43

    RE “”What would the world say if you changed the name ‘Gypsy’ to ‘Muslim’, ‘Pakastani’, ‘Jew’, or ‘Arab’?””

    ———– That’s probably the gist of the issue.

    I have little history of dealing with gypsies save some carnivals, but I am of a pronounced racial sterotype and nature that gets clumsily lumped into white America. My neighborhood and high school was 50% 2nd-3rd gen Euro-American Jews from NYC, and my best friend had a Jewish name which he used to skip school on Jewish holidays and no body was the wiser for it. yet the one day I skipped school with him to go sailing and drink beer I was busted.

    We all mixed and matched pretty well with the only segregation was a natural pairing during dating as no Christian boy would dare run the gauntlet laid down by a Jewish girl’s family, and vice versa for the Jewish boy, but of course a few exceptions which were really no big deal.

    My background makes me more open to “the other,” but at the same time I can see when an ethnic group moves into areas where they are minorities, cultural nuances that make life more sociable are often lost in “translation” and conflicts, threat, and ill will can result.

    I can remember training this young vibrant lady of obvious Hindu heritage when she made a disparaging comment about “those people,” referring to a Pakistani Muslim in our group. I was a bit surprised at such a broad and bluntly delivered spontaneous assertion and softly advised her to hold her opinions to herself.

    She ended up “telling” a few of the “others” off that worked there, so it was adios for her. It’s instructive to know any race can be guilty of stereotyping and nobody likes being discriminated against.

  7. October 3, 2008 at 15:48

    I am a Brit in sunny Florida but I had a lot to do with Gypsies in Peterborough 1976-2000. I was a driving instructor and one of the few who would go onto the local site to take them for driving lessons. I had people who moved north to other sites but who would travel back down by train just to continue training. They were always polite and good payers. One thing was that they trashed the nice site that was supplied to them and the outbuildings they could rent to house washing machines etc were oft times converted to living accomodation. Naturallly as in any society there were good and bad there. In the community they had a reputation for being quite well of from doing driveway work and such like and not having to pay much in the way of taxes. They mostly had elaborate glassy trailers. I also did videofilming and did their events such as weddings and communians. They paid me well and although they got a bit too boisterous with drink I would vacate before that happened and when there was damage at a venue they always went back and settled the bills. There is no comparable situation here in the states. I don’t think it would be anywhere near tolerated. The police here are all beefy studs on steroids and they are not slow to tazer. There is also surprisingly very little petty crime. But there are about 150 shootings a year and mostly in the black part of town to the north where few whites venture.

    • 8 lisa holmes
      October 2, 2009 at 09:41

      hello did you teach my aunt to drive her name is linda woodward i have a lot of family on the ridings site and oxley road site

  8. 9 Philippa
    October 3, 2008 at 17:00

    To me, the essence of Gypsy life is not having a fixed abode, and living from one’s wits and skills (in the past, typically skills with horses, knife-sharpening, fortune-telling, etc) an unregistered existence free from bureaucrats and taxes, but also schools and modern health care, etc. In these days of ultra-normalization and ultra-registration, I am rather sympathetic to this image, and find the idea of compulsory fixed abode a philosophical, existential, and even moral abomination (in short: who on earth has the right to tell anyone where to stand, or walk, or go — or not?).

    And yet, the comments above seem to depict Gypsies as a principally sedentary people involved in taxes/government payments, schooling, etc, in short, much the same activities as the non-Gypsy majority, although probably, in most cases, somewhere towards the bottom of the socioeconomic scale.

    I would like to ask Jackie Boyd the extent to which mobility and lack of registration on government rolls still characterize Gypsy life? Is this an aspiration, even? And I mean real mobility, with whatever means of transport, rather than just moving from home to home, as seems to be the case with Caer (I think this is not unusual nowadays, even amongst non-Gypsies).

  9. 10 Ben Kenfield
    October 3, 2008 at 17:05

    You are right in that “gypsy” could be replaced with any other sub-culture of people within a society, not only segregated buy ethnicity or religion but also by political stance or lifestyle. In America, those that reject the “accepted” lifestyle of working, consuming, and paying taxes are now seen as some sort of threat, as if their very existence threatens the established norm’s and the fabric of American society.

    A recent example was the raid on the polygamist cult in Texas. I do not agree with their ideals or condone their lifestyle, but when our government smells counter-culture, it must be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Did we not learn from the incident in Waco or countless others when we acted on fear and prejudice instead of reason?

  10. October 3, 2008 at 17:54

    In regard to the past idea of a horse drawn trailer and knife sharpening of course that in not the way of the modern Gypsy. In Peterborough there was some restriction that Gypsies could not be moved on unless sites were provided for them as an alternative. A lot of money was spent developing a nice site with utility buildings alongside trailer parking places. Gypsies could sit out the winter in these places quite cheaply. Many of these modern Gypsies would do asphalt driveways as well as many other up to date enterprises. The driveway problem was that quite often the work did not stand up as they did not dig it out deeply enough. They earned well and had nice trucks to pull very luxurious and purpose built trailers.

  11. 12 David N in Oregon
    October 3, 2008 at 19:19

    I’ll be interested in this program. Romany or Gypsy people here are vaguely identified with used car sales, and really attract no particular judgmental attention.

    Having no direct experience with Gypsies, I’ve never been able to understand what exactly it is that defines these folks…are there ethnic, religious or traditional/cultural elements that preclude their assimilation into societies they dwell in? Well, there must be, but perhaps they will be explained.

    I am always fascinated with situations where a group maintains a separate identity generation after generation in the face of what appear to be huge disadvantages in doing so.

    Looking forward to the discussion.


  12. October 3, 2008 at 23:32

    Patrick, There are many European gypsy communities in the US. You also have your, “geriatric gypsies.” Pop by Quartzsite AZ for an eyeful. On a much smaller scale check out any Wal-Mart parking lot in the summer. There is a huge spectrum of humanity that inhabits the space between RVer and homeless. Check out the movie Tie Died and ask yourself where all those people went. I’m not computer literate enough to do a link, but try http://www.thepinkbus.com and explore some of their links to other sites.
    I’m interested to learn more about the Romany Gypsies. I’d especially like to know about if they don’t subscribe to a central government then how do they organize themselves as a group? Is it an extended family or trbal council arrangement? How is order maintained and are group issues resolved? I’d also like to know if there are still traditional gypsies who don’t live in trailers and the like but survive nonetheless?

  13. 14 viola
    October 4, 2008 at 00:56

    My question is whether the gypsy people wish to assimilate and if they don’t, why not? Also, do the surrounding cultures in whatever country they’re in wish to assimilate them? Why or why not?

    I suspect much of the bad feeling against gypsies is similar to the conflict that has always existed between settled farming societies and nomadic herders. Settled people simply don’t trust people who move around a lot and, of course, as more and more land became farmland, the herders were squeezed more and more until today there are few such cultures.

    Having a whole other culture to be suspicious of takes our minds off the bad actors in our own cultures. It’s a godsend for politicians who otherwise would have to actually address real issues.


  14. 15 Dennis@OCC
    October 4, 2008 at 02:16

    Jackie Boyd:
    Thanks for the BLOG indication and for your interest….

    I have to say, that there is no need for DISCRIMINATION about the GYPSY or PROBLEMS WITH GYPSIES….

    I think that, we [in society] will have to do some self examination about how to repent the misdeeds….


  15. October 4, 2008 at 02:52

    Ah nah,,,The politicians are scrambling over the bodies of the fo dudes tazered by the steroid stoked police,,,,Ack! There I go falacing the party parrot….Personal biz and all that 🙂
    I do like the cultural history/imperative angle. How did this group avoid being forced to vote? Are economic and political factors encouraging people around the world to become more nomadic or drop out of society altogether?
    For anyone interested, Jane Lidz has a good book- Rolling Homes, Handmade Houses on Wheels……

  16. 17 Shakhoor Rehman
    October 4, 2008 at 10:48

    Discrimination against any ethnic group can never be justified. The Roma or Gypsies are no different. Like other ethnic groups they have contributed culturally to society and helped to make it bearable.

  17. 18 bjay
    October 4, 2008 at 16:09

    A gypsy problem or a problem with gypsies?

    If the ‘fruit-flies’ would be your next door neighbor, wouldn’t be looking out for your garden?
    But of course, some might be not vegeterian.com.
    I am not always full of courtesy; I do apologies to those.
    bjay connotation with accent.

  18. October 5, 2008 at 03:42

    Ah, the Gypsy life…

    My first encounter with a European gypsy was on a street in Madrid. I was a young American hitch-hiker and youth hosteler off to see the world by way of a Yugoslavian freighter that sailed from Brooklyn harbor to Tangiers.

    When approached by an pair of exotic gypsies, one an older heavy-set woman and the other a young dark-skinned pale green eyed woman I was immediately transfixed. The younger woman was silent. Her older companion apparently recognized me for an American “hippie” and wanted to know if I had and would sell her any Franklin Roosevelt dimes. I didn’t know at the time that the older Roosevelt dimes were made of a purer silver than the current sandwiched coins made mostly of base metals.

    I gave her what dimes I had in exchange for whatever the going rate for Pesetas was at the time, happy to have had the chance to meet these beautiful beings.

    Since those days many years ago I have followed the path of a traveling singer-songwriter. I’ve traveled and lived in several VW buses throughout Mexico and the Yucatan in search of lost Mayan pyramids. I’ve treked across all the southern states of the US in a GMC class C mini-Winnebago motorhome. I’ve “camped” out in the free (secret) campgrounds known as WalMart parking lots. And I learned from a WalMart manager in Charlottesville, Va. the home of Thomas Jefferson’s pride, the University of Virginia and his home Montecello, that the official policy of WalMart is to allow motorhomers access to their parking lots all across America.

    While taking a eurail-pass train from Paris to Versaille I will never forget the horse-drawn gypsy wagon/encampment by the tracks that our train whizzed pass. It felt like a vision from a distant and simpler past.

    When I lived in New Orleans in the Marigny section just down river from the French Quarter in what has been dubbed the “notorious Brattmobile”, my hand-painted GMC motorhome, I told all my friends that I had the best address in the world. It was 1999 and I was parked at the corner of Ponce De Leon and Royal St. by my friends’ laundromat. The address was 2001 Royal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Ah, “the city that care forgot”…(and the government that forgot to care in post-Katrina New Orleans).

    Back in the present on the eve of the presidential election here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA the Brattmobile is getting a thorough overhaul in preparation for further adventures in the annals of “Urban Camping: Surviving Homelessness in the Post-Bush Era and Other Disasters”.

    Stay tuned and stay in touch.

    Janet Bratter

    “Have Guitar/Will Travel”

  19. 20 Caer, Australia
    October 6, 2008 at 07:34

    I used to have irregular contact with a likewise Gypsy/Roma friend in the USA, mainly due to his not being always online. When I mentioned that I’d considered a trip to America, he immediately let me know that he was with a Roma group in Colorado and to be sure to let him know before I made any trip there, and he’d send me a list of who to see for a car etc. and all the various group sites that I’d be most welcome at.
    Now, my being ”of the blood” counted for something in his offer, but they (he told me) were well known to buy a cheap block of an acre or so of land to live on and would not turn away a non-Gypsy, unless their honesty etc. was in question.
    As I’d have made the trip as a lone woman, I was also assured of my safety in just about any part of the USA, which was a comforting thought.

    Is the Gypsy lifestyle just about those who are mobile?
    Many in the UK and the USA will stay in one place for a number of years, but I think we all carry the ”itchy feet” chromosone… There is a kinship you find among the Roma/Romany/Gypsy folk that rarely seems the same in other cultures.

  20. 21 howdy
    October 6, 2008 at 12:13

    The only way to heal the gypsys along with the Jews is for them to settle in a stable homeland where they can put down permanent roots..otherwise they will continue to be rootless ‘guests’ (some would say parasites) in the countries of others and resentment will continue to be directed toward them.

  21. 22 Esmeralda Paz
    October 6, 2008 at 15:02

    As this is a BBC blog in the public domain, it would be nice if the BBC itself and its journalists would extend the courtesy of capitalizing the ‘G’ word – Gypsy, as they do with all other proper nouns in the English language (for example, Panjabi, Gujarati, Jew, Chinese, Arab, Irish, Somali, French, etc.)

    This would go a small (though significant) way towards overcoming the continuing epistemic violence of the past, and in the average person beginning to view Romani peoples as well as Irish Pavee as belonging to particular ethnic/minority communities, as opposed to being defined solely by perceived social characteristics such as ‘nomadism’, ‘traveller’ when in fact, very few communities are travelling today on a regular basis in Europe. This perceived link with nomadism (which was a survival strategy in the past) perpetuates the disconnection between Roma and the societies in which they are striving to become active citizens. That’s why people (including non-Gypsy academics) continue to view Roma as not part of society, and not making any real contributions, thereby perpetuating dangerous mythologies. This vicious cycle of epistemic violence – built upon false knowledge on Roma – must be broken.

    BBC, please at least capitalize the ‘G’ word when you are referring to Romani peoples!

  22. 23 jackie boyd
    October 6, 2008 at 18:57

    where do i start ?
    well lets start with the obvious
    @ katrina in ghent
    katrina thank you bothering to write on the blog
    to answer some of your presumptions yes many Gypsies dont send their children to school for the whole time
    me being one of them i have 5 children and i would not let them go to big school which starts at 11 in england
    i at the time did not want them to learn some of the things that was being taught in the schools and the promiscuity in some of the schools was very bad [and we as Gypsies dont believe in sex before marriage]

    when i look back maybe i should have sent them to school to late now i would have liked them to be better educated because the life in england is changing very fast
    but i would never shout discrimination for that and i dont know any Gypsy that has ever done that
    and about having one child after another for benefits is laughable at your lack of knowledge gypsies are very passionate about family life and care for them

    about intergrating do you mean i must stop being a gypsy or you must become like me
    and what is me not contributing to society most gypsies now pay taxes
    half of the people who live on the site where i live are involved with a international charity to help people in need

    i dont speak for all gypsies some are tax dodgers ,thieves and the like just the same as other people groups

    with love jackie

  23. 24 jackie boyd
    October 6, 2008 at 19:05

    thanks for your comments on racism i dont think we can stop racism it is just another part of our sinful lives but what can help is interaction i used to say education but the gaujo people around the world are educated and look at them
    [gaujo means non Gypsies]
    ps sorry for any racist undertones!
    with love jackie

  24. 25 jackie boyd
    October 6, 2008 at 19:18


    to answer your question on lifestyle of Gypsies today i am still mobile but much less
    now only travelling in the summer months
    and many gypsies are settled now in houses because of business or school commitments
    through Britian and western europe many of us still travel all year round in modern caravans and still a handfull in horse drawn wagons

    to answer the second part of your question

    [and lack of registration on government rolls still characterize Gypsy life? Is this an aspiration, ]

    no amongst most gypsies in england they wuold like to register for taxes and goverment rolls but many are scared of the possibe fines or prison for evasion

  25. 26 jackie boyd
    October 6, 2008 at 19:29

    @david in oregon
    thanks for your question
    the main things that separates gypsies from other cultures is
    many traditions [to many to mention],
    lifestyle in the family unit ,
    language ,
    bloodline ,
    in some cases colour of skin
    , not wanting to marry out [it happenns more now]
    rules on cleanliness,
    and maybe discrimination causes us all the more not to assimilate

    with love jackie

  26. 27 jackie boyd
    October 6, 2008 at 19:40

    @viola re your question

    [My question is whether the gypsy people wish to assimilate and if they don’t, why not? Also, do the surrounding cultures in whatever country they’re in wish to assimilate them? Why or why not?]

    assimalate does that mean to dissapear into the ether or me become gaujo?

    depending in what country you are in some countries want the Gypsies to assimilate
    mostly western europe but in other parts of the world gypsies are despised countries like czeck republick where they are called the black
    or in most parts of romania they are despised
    [i have been there many times and know from first hand]
    big problems in kosova, serbia, and to many to mention

    what does assimilation meen to you?

    with love jackie

  27. 28 jackie boyd
    October 6, 2008 at 19:44

    about your thought i am not sure that will work check out jews in isreal it has not worked for them yet and where is Gypsyville?

    with love jackie

  28. October 6, 2008 at 19:51

    I am really surprised at the question in Gareth’s blog, asking how many Gypsies are mobile in England today and the number of blogs attacking British Gypsies for not sending their children to school regularly.
    Why do so many people not understand the reason that many Travelling children, who would love to go to school, cannot do so as so many Councils ignore the Government advice that when Travellers have health or education needs, thcy should delay their eviction from public land?
    Instead most Councils usually only allow them about a week and the police only 24 hours or less.
    Why do the Gypsies “trespass” by camping on land which does not belong to them? The reason is plain from official figures which show that over a quarter of the Gypsies in this country are homeless because there are not enough legal sites for them, which is very sad as they are unjustly blamed for trespassing and this aggravates the racism against them. As they complain, “We have to camp somewhere, so what are we supposed to do, jump in the sea.”
    The Government has said that by 2011 there must be enough sites, but what will they do, if there are not enough?
    Many Traveller families desperately want to rent or to buy pitches on a legal site, so that their children can go to school to learn to read and write, and just travel in the school holidays, but schooling is almost impossible for most of the “highly mobile” without a site. Does this break the Right to Education in the Human Rights Act?
    Why does the British Government not improve its guidance on delaying evictions for health and education needs and make it binding on all Councils, all Police (who can evict by Section 61) and all the Courts which usually rubber stamp the evictions in spite of health and education needs.
    Why do the Councils and the courts ignore the 1995 High Court decision, called the Wealden Judgement, which quashed the eviction of some pregnant Travellers and a baby with health problems, so this should be binding on British Courts and Councils, but they ignore it.
    The United Nations Children’s Commissioner for England reported to Geneva recently that Gypsy mothers in England were 20 times more likely to suffer the death of a child, but why did he not comment on the Gypsy children unable to go to school?
    The Save the Children Fund has a Report in print and on the Internet called No Future with chapters on Gypsy children in most countries in Europe.
    Most British Doctors and GPs will not register Travellers without a postal address which deprives them of NHS treatments like speech therapy which require referral by a GP.
    (By the word Gypsy I do not mean only the Romani but all Travellers, both th Romani and those of Irish descent, many of whom have lived in England for many years.)

  29. October 7, 2008 at 00:22

    I know if you tell poeple the truth your Grndma was Roma poeple’s view
    changes, and PDQ. A friend dropped me like quick, accused me of stealing
    his Bible of all things!(Guess he wasn’t a real friend.)
    My Grandfather said it’s better you don’t tell some poeple who you are.
    They are just too weak to accept a change of mind.I’ve lived as a
    Chirstian. I carried pop bottles from the back of a store around to the front and sold them back to the clerk but dad caught me and made me pay triple the
    price to them. I was a kid.But dad traveled all weekend mant times then would take off with his boss for two weeks at a strech.But he’d come back.We moved maybe 8 to 6 times a year cleaning up messes in the company housing system
    for cheap rent.Some weeks we picked up tires to be retread, in exchange for tires batteries and gas.Dad fixed up washers and dryers so we took the motors and
    switches out of disguarded ones to fix others :he had books to interchange these parts or knew how to test them to see if they matched.
    You learn how to get by on your strenghs.I don’t know everything. I learn as i go along, God willing.I looked up the immigrantation report for Grandpa.When the
    interviewer asked where they came from he said Hungaria and my uncle 8 used the word for grandma in Hungarian. So they wrote it up that way.I thought it was
    funny. My computer time is running out so I have to sign off.The best to all of you.

  30. October 7, 2008 at 08:51

    I think you should discuss what is going on Italy. Racist politicians, a bias media, and mobs roaming the streets of Italy’s major cities burning down Roma camp sites. These Roma are not thieves, they are not trying to steal your jobs, they are trying to find a better life, they are simple hard working immigrants that are just trying to feed and cloth their children.

    For more information:

  31. 32 Syed Hasan Turab
    October 7, 2008 at 17:03

    Infact Gypsy & Jewish have same nature & mentality, just differance is this Jewish are educated comaring to Gypsies.
    More then occupation of land is common living behaviour in a society with all kind of negativity & irretation.

  32. 33 viola
    October 7, 2008 at 19:20

    @Jackie Boyd

    What assimilation means to me is what I found in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary: “sociocultural fusion wherein individuals and groups of differing ethnic heritage acquire the basic habits, attitudes and modes of life of an embracing national culture–distinguished from acculturation.”

    I can’t say exactly what those modes of life in any one particular embracing national culture are but I am willing to go out on a limb and say that if you wish to live in a culture not your own that outnumbers you, you need to adapt to that culture, keeping the best of your own.

    Perhaps acculturation is a better concept: It is “a process of intercultural borrowing marked by the continuous transmission of traits and elements between diverse peoples and resulting in new and blended patterns.”

    So same questions substituting “acculturation” for “assimilation.” Or both. Your choice.

  33. October 7, 2008 at 19:28

    Please spend time on the situation in the Czech Republic, which has a long, ongoing problem with racism and discrimination against Gypsies. There have been ups and downs over the years, but currently you have the gov’t and political situation getting worse (a national politician named Cunek has made his career through old-school race baiting and forcible , and currently is proposing a plan to forcibly separate Gypsies according to socio-economic levels, while far right parties racist parties are more active and resurgent than anytime in recent years).

    There is also an ongoing issue of forcible sterilization of Gypsy women. See http://onevodrom.blogspot.com/2008/06/5-july-romani-coercive-sterilization.html

    In my opinion the social situation, paradoxically, seems to be better lately, with more Gypsies in public and the musician Gypsy.cz knocking down walls in society.

    See http://romea.cz/english/

  34. 35 viola
    October 7, 2008 at 19:33

    @ Jackie Boyd

    Thank you. Your replies to many of the posters makes clear: All Gypsies are not alike; all Gypsies are not on welfare; all Gypsies are not thieves and liars; Gypsies love their children and want the best for them; Gypsies have the same attitude toward education as do many religious groups that consider public education undesirable.

    Which inspires another question: Do Gypsies home-school their children? Many countries offer very good home-schooling programs enabling parents to provide basic education minus the social context.

  35. 36 Philippa
    October 8, 2008 at 07:49

    Thank you, Jackie Boyd, for your answer. I was surprised to read in your comment to Viola that things are bad for Gypsies in Serbia (of course, I suspect things are bad for Gypsies everywhere, but you did single out this country and a few others).

    A couple of years ago I read in a news report that Gypsies had supported Serbs and even helped them carry out atrocities against Muslims in the wars of the 1990s. I asked an American friend who has a Serbian wife and he said that Serbia is the one country where Gypsies feel more or less accepted. He claimed there is something in Serb culture that makes them relate to Gypsies.

    What can you tell me about this?

    On a separate subject, what is happening in Italy with Gypsies reminds me of what happened in southern Spain a few years ago, when the local Spaniards went on a week-long rampage against immigrant Arabs who help pick the local crops. They burnt their homes/shacks and set up cordons of blazing tires which, or so we were told, made it difficult for Spain’s security forces to intervene. Clearly, protecting disenfranchised groups of perceived foreigners from local aggressive gangs is not a priority of some governments.

  36. 37 Jens
    October 8, 2008 at 17:07


    you hold three doctrates, why? I mean it takes a long time for very little money and you have a large family? how does that work? i have one PhD and no kids, because we could not afford to have children. I just wonder how you managed…..

  37. 38 Caer, Australia
    October 9, 2008 at 11:00

    @ Jens

    I love to study and learn but am also very fertile, I managed it all because I was lucky to have most of my family in Australia, where education is encouraged and at the time my family situation allowed me to study for not a lot of outlay as long as I was productive (educationally, not-so-much offspring wise ;)).

    I certainly use my qualifications and feel I’ve also been a good role model to my children of what can be achieved if you really want something enough.

    Thanks for your question.

  38. 39 Mirko
    October 16, 2008 at 21:26

    Don’t let the Gajee get to you!
    Everybody knows that there is nothing to stereotypes. These misconceptions usually pop out of thin air from nowhere. Just ask the inefficient Germans building all that junk in Munich, or the hard working Latinos in L.A.. All the French girls can’t stop talking about the well-endowed Japanese.
    Gypsies have been around for thousands of years; All around the world, the Balkans to Detroit. Why, all of a sudden, is everybody interested ? Gypsies haven’t changed much…they have more or less stayed true to their way of life regardless the country they currently live. Naturally they have adapted to their surroundings and have kept up with the times, but their “way of life”, their mentality, has changed very little. Instead of pilfering at local markets and looking for handouts (usually money) at intersections throughout Europe (especially Eastern Europe), now in North America, Gypsies “fix” driveways and “repair” roof-tops. I don’t even want to talk about sweet-heart swindlers.
    Now, I know very well that not ALL Gypsies are scams as much as I know that not ALL birds fly…it’s just that most of them do.

  39. 40 marie
    December 5, 2008 at 01:02

    I’m not a Gypsy but if i had been discriminated as much as these people have been for centuries then i wouldn’t have any inclination to assimilate, why would you?

  40. 41 Karen
    January 7, 2009 at 18:59

    My daughter is dating a Gypsy….I don’t know much about them and I am trying to learn more…like I learned that we are called gadje (non roma) so why is this guy going after my daughter if they don’t like outsiders?. My daughter is 18 and has never been out on a date before. He dad would not allow it. The only time she has been allowed to go any where is with the church. The first time she goes out she meets this guy and I am really worried about this. We also just found out he is 24. He seems like a really nice guy. I am just trying to protect my daughter!! To be honest I have nothing against the guy……I am not racial against anyone. It is just some of the things I have read and I am trying to get this right!! Should I be worried? Please do not take this as anything except for a concern Mother asking questions. They seem like decent hard working plp. I am just so worried.

  41. October 23, 2009 at 13:13

    hi im ching chong have you ever read the book pictures from the fire it is a youg adult book but talks mainly about a gypsy and about her life so if you want more info check out that book!

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