Putting to bed Roma myths

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Many cliches exist about the Roma people, which do a great deal of damage. [BalkansCat/ Shutterstock]

Over the last two decades Valeriu Nicolae has heard many opinions about Roma. Here he dissects the best (!) of them.

Valeriu Nicolae is special representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Roma issues. Needless to say, this opinion piece is a tongue-in-cheek take on a social issue that is often overlooked.

1. Roma are magical and dangerous as they can cast spells and curses on you!

We can walk on water and fly whenever needed on brooms. In some countries (where people lovingly call us “stinky crows”), we can do so even without brooms, using our natural gifts of hollow bones and strong arms. We even can teach the most gifted non-Roma how to do it.

This is why the state airline in Hungary went bankrupt and some national airlines in countries where we live also are almost broke.

Such is our magical skill that we happily embrace hundreds of years of slavery and enjoy so very much the racism that continues to be gracefully bestowed upon us.

Being able to cast spells and curses has proved positively productive, seeing how obviously overrepresented we are in the ruling and financial elites of the world. And seeing how we are overrepresented in the most enlightened and glorious events of Europe’s past, such as slavery, targeted killings and the Holocaust.

That practically all Roma in the Czech Republic were wiped out during the Holocaust, with hundreds of thousands killed in concentration camps during the Second World War or during deportations all over Europe, clearly illustrates our magical powers.

2. We have an innate gift for music and dance

Numerous documented cases exist of Roma children born clutching their beloved musical instruments or silver flutes in their mouths. The rest of us have an extra gene that allows us to move in rhythm and possess divine voices.

3. Roma are stupider than normal people

Yes, as any parent, Roma parents want their children to be functional cretins. We believe that the dirtier, hungrier and poorer our children are, the better it would be for their future. Because we are such carefree, closer-to-nature types, we want our children to drink dew and eat rainbows.

We prefer our children to go barefoot in the winter and feel the Soul of Gaya through their skin and beg, rather than lose themselves in the warm comfort of private schools and the corruption of wealth. That you, dear reader, do not see a link between centuries of slavery, abject poverty, exclusion and educational achievements doesn’t make you either smart or pragmatic. Quite the opposite!

4. We can even tell you your future

You will struggle and go through cycles of happiness, boredom, sadness and depression. You will love some people and hate others. You might or might not have children, but the probability is that you will have children. Ultimately and irrevocably, you will die.

All those other people who proclaim that they can tell your future – such as teachers, coaches, scientists, psychotherapists, politicians, priests, and sociopaths – most probably lie to you.

So you really should go to a Roma fortune telling, which will make your future much more clear. You will be cheated. You might feel good about it, but that would be the most that you would get out of the experience. Some of you will be able to boast that you met Roma, know Roma or that you have a Roma friend. Any racist needs to prove his or her amazing tolerance for sub-humans like us.

5. We are dirty and stink

Yes, when we are dirty, most of us stink. You might smell like roses even after you have put out the rubbish or worked out at your gym, but that genetic gift is reserved for you and your close friends and relatives. Roma who live in abject poverty have a higher probability to stink, which is proportional to their – you guessed it – abject poverty.

Perhaps you think that you would be blessed to have been born in a slum, next to a garbage dump, and that you would have ended up as a walking advertisement of a mix of Ariel, Armani and Chanel 5, but it is more likely that you are delusional.

6. We keep horses in our flats

Yes, we do this with our magical spells that can take place only in these small flats where we are able to turn regular horses into unicorns, which are much needed by the fairy tale industry.

The production of unicorns can only take place in 4th floor flats of old communist apartment buildings in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Serbia and Hungary. All other such horses are fakes.

Abject poverty makes people live in appalling housing conditions and not genes. Centuries of exclusion push people to live abnormal lives. Racism is offensive and stupid.

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