Vicente Rodriguez Speaks About His Vision for the Romani People
On 8 June, during the launch of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) in Berlin, the Huffington Post met with activist Vicente Rodríguez, the Romani organizer of the RomaPop alliance. Rodríguez discussed his mission to have Romani people portrayed in a positive light in popular culture.
With the impending “Nightwing” film Rodríguez hopes for further changes in the Romani image. He founded RomaPop in 2015.
The international alliance works for social justice for Romani people specifically within the realm of popular culture. For his work, Rodríguez has travelled throughout various cities within the United States, including New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
Throughout last year Rodriguez focused on attending comics conventions and other popular culture events, like the New York Comic Convention (Comic Con). In his interview with the Huffington Post, he states that he is searching for proper stories in pop culture that will not alienate or victimize the Roma people.
He notes that in recent years Marvel Comics “has carried out a series of editorial policies in defense of diversity. As a result we have an African American Captain America, a Latin Spiderman, and an Asian Hulk; however, nothing has progressed in relation to the Gypsy people.”
Rodriguez explains that changes in popular culture at a global level would help fight against antigypsyism. Changing popular discourse would help to humanize Romani people, who have been subject to negative media and cultural manipulation.
The Huffington Post also captures Rodriguez’s opinion on the perception of the Romani people in both Europe and the United States. He says, “In the United States, people do not know who the Roma are,” further mentioning the ease with which some Americans can absorb negative European stereotypes about Romani people during their tourism.
“Why did you raise this type of cultural activism in the United States and not in Europe?” the Huffington Post asked. Rodriguez responded that “In the United States there is a tradition of protest based on moral argument and an idea of progress for minorities that I have never seen in Europe.”
Rodriguez speaks of culture as a powerful language that can both liberate and oppress. He hopes that one day popular culture will not portray the Romani people as criminals, but rather as a people of great value.
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