Happy International Roma Day!
A few years back I wrote an blog post called The "G" Word: Honoring the Roma which was my first sojourn in talking about the Roma culture and our relationship to it as herbfolk. As a mix-d creature of Roma heritage, I've have found hope and frustration in the ensuing years as there has been an increase in organizing amongst Roma folk to stand up for our rights and a continuing rise of racism and misinformation against Roma, especially in Europe.
While I have offline conversations quite a lot in regards to the Roma community, my own family's story, and the continuing struggle for Roma rights, I am always hesitant to engage in these same conversations online. I did do that once and it was frustrating to say the least. If you'd like to get a snapshot of how conversations about the Roma community often play out (and though the one that took place on Etsy was extremely frustrating it was not as vile as most "conversations" you find happening on the internets about the Roma), I encourage you to have a cup of calming tea beside you...
If you're unfamiliar with Roma culture and want to learn more, I think the Open Society Foundation has some great resources for English speakers. The following video highlights some of the most pressing issues faced by Roma folk and ways that Roma folk are fighting for change for their communities.
Today is also about celebrating Roma culture and it's easier to celebrate the beauty of a culture when you understand its origin story a bit better. The following video is a simple, funny, and informative look at the history of the Roma.
So Happy International Roma Day, clever ones! In the work of inclusivity and social justice I've learned many, many things but one of the most important that I've learned is to be kind - something that is so often missing from the conversation when we begin to talk about the Roma. I wish kindness to you and your communities and it is with kindness that I invite you to the table to learn more about the reality of Roma life and the gifts of our culture. Because to learn and know the so-called "other" is to know our own selves better, to release our projections of fear, and be more kind, more just, and more able to live with one another in peace.