I spoke to Brut media about the harmful use of the racial slur “Gypsy” and “gypped.” I see the word used so often in writing, media, brands, and few people know that it refers to the Romani people, and reinforces negatives stereotypes about us like nomadism, curses, thievery, and promiscuity. Many Americans believe that the word Gypsy actually means thief, nomad, curse-thrower, or ‘slut,’ and this erases Romani identity at a crucial time while we are fighting for our rights, and associates the real Romani people with theses stereotypes. I am proud of my Romani heritage and I want people to understand who we are. I’ve written many articles on other aspects of Romani culture, which you can find on my Writing page. If you know someone who uses this word, even if they think they are using it in a positive way, you might like to gently and lovingly educate them on the power of language and the history of this slur. Thanks for watching!
This is pretty belated, but on May 6th I was lucky to perform at an Ederlezi celebration in Brooklyn. Sometimes the night is so good that you forget to document it until much later. Ederlezi is a spring holiday for Roma in the Balkans, and a variant on St. George’s Day. There’s a lot of singing, dancing, flower-throwing, and feasting of lamb to imbibe its purity and thus be renewed. Much of Romani spirituality centers on spiritual purification, and this holiday is a beautiful testament to this. Each activity cleanses the soul, and whenever possible, the holiday is celebrated by a river to bathe in and throw in flowers for luck.
My Romani family doesn’t actually celebrate the holiday because my ancestors settled in Western Europe, but I love the holiday and like to observe it in my own small way. This year, it was by dancing, singing, & invoking Sara la Kali at X Marks the Loft. So many thanks to JunXion for creating this beautiful event to celebrate the Balkan Romani holiday of spring and renewal. I’m also very grateful to the Bulgarian Voices Trio, who gave such a beautiful performance and then helped me sing “Ederlezi” because I’m not really a singer actually…. Check out their beautiful music. Joro Boro also provided us great music & energy, and a real love for the holiday and for the Romani people. I was also touched by the way Chef Davo prepared the lamb so mindfully, slaughtering it himself with the respect and solemnity the holiday calls for, and pouring his intention for the holiday into cooking a delicious feast. We talked a little in Romanes, though mine is very broken due to my family losing the language in the war, and I learned that he lived alongside Roma back in Bulgaria and has a great affinity for the culture. The whole night I felt the respect and love of Romani allies who really wanted me there and encouraged me to share part of the Romani community’s culture.