Bella's mom was running a booth at another festival today, so I spent some time with them, helping out a bit by taking Bella for walks in the neighborhood. Her mom had brought cucumber snacks--she's wonderfully careful about Bella's diet.
But all day I've been thinking about that Festival I attended yesterday. I enjoyed talking about it with my anthropologist friend who was visiting, and I did some online reading, and this is what I've come to:
The Romanies/Gitanos/Tziganes/Sinti/Roma, often called “Gypsies” by non-Romani, have been killed, tortured, imprisoned, ridiculed, raped, stereotyped, and vilified, most often by European people, but also in other parts of the world. Some have adopted the religion of the people around them. Some have intermarried. Some are now middle-class, some are well-educated; but many still suffer from prejudice and discrimination.
Therefore it is not surprising that many don’t trust non-Romani, or Gadzé/Gadje. For centuries, the Roma have been sensibly secretive about their culture, and many still don’t want the Gadzé looking in on them, as this has boded ill in the past. However in many parts of the world, Roma have earned a little money as musicians and dancers. Their music, like their religion, has adapted to the tastes and practices of the cultures where they have lived, so music created and performed by Roma in Spain is quite different from that created in Turkey, Ukraine, Hungary, Argentina, or Texas.
Many non-Romani admire Romani music and dance, and in many places in the USA, Gadzé have worked hard to learn some of these forms of music and dance--and to create fusion music incorporating Roma influences. The term "Gypsy" has been co-opted and commodified, and some people who are not of Roma ancestry call themselves "Gypsies" without sharing the history of the people. But at the Festival Romani in Portland yesterday, the only people calling themselves "Gypsies" were a few vendors, and there were very few people who identified themselves as Roma. Most of the performers were Gadzé, most of the audience was Gadzé, and the organizers were Gadzé. A few Roma gave lessons in the dance tent, and a few played music after I'd left the festival. It was a beautiful festival of color, of music, of summer sun next to the river. It celebrated Roma culture without having many Roma participants, although the MC for the day was a very thoughtful and accomplished Jewish professor of anthropology and folklore who has been studying the Roma all her life. I’ve posted my favorite shots here.
For those interested in more information about the Roma, there’s an American website that calls itself the Voice of Roma here, and Amnesty International currently has a campaign going to demand human rights for Roma in Europe with a petition you can sign here. Edit: some wonderful comments are below. Read them if you have time and are interested in this! Spitzimixi especially.
Because of my visitor and my busy day today helping out with Bella, I haven't been able to comment at all this weekend, but I look forward to catching up next week.