Meet the Romani

A few weeks ago, I read some articles about a blond girl that was found in a Romani (Gypsy) community in Greece. While reading this article, I realized that I know very little about Romani/Gypsies, so I started doing some research.

The “Gypsies”, more correctly called Romani are an ethnic group that came from India to Europe around the year 1350 or so. They were described as the “Descendants of Cain” and were enslaved, massacred, or were pushed out of various countries at various times. The Jews in Europe were treated poorly in European history, but the Romani were probably treated even worse. Similar to the Jews, the Romani were also killed during the Holocaust in great numbers:

Bundesarchiv R 165 Bild-244-47, Asperg, Deportation von Sinti und Roma

Because they lived as slaves or outcasts, the Romani survived by doing either jobs that no one else wanted to do, or by doing crime. Even today, the Romani still have many criminal gangs in Europe mainly from Romania and Bulgaria, and thus they have a very bad reputation. Even recently, European governments kick them out of their country from time to time.

Oddly though, the Romani have integrated very well in the US, because nobody knows who they are. If Romani come from Bulgaria, they’re treated as Bulgarians, not Romani, so they have no cultural stigma.

Anyhow, despite all this the Romani are still people:

Tiganca imputita

(reads: igancă împuţită! “Stinking gypsy!” in Romanian language)

To help prove this point, I found a great set of photos by the Baltimore Sun, which shows the Romani people in Europe and how they live, even as outcasts. Some of these photos are very touching, while others are very depressing.

The important thing though is to recognize that Roma people are human and still deserve a life like other people. If given a chance (as in the US), they thrive just fine. Similar to the Buddhist story of Angulimala (the sutra is here), if given a real chance, even outcasts can find redemption and become saints.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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