US Professor Ian Hancock on the Miss Roma competition: Romani girls do not need to sell their beauty
The finale of the 16th annual competition "Miss Czechoslovak Roma", which was held on Saturday, 24 September in the Czech town of Hodonín, prompted many different reactions. In addition to commentaries on social networking sites, Petr Uhl published a critical article about the Romani beauty contest on news server Romea.cz.
That article also prompted the following comments by the Romani linguist and university professor living in the USA, Ian Hancock. News server Romea.cz publishes his comment in full here:
It is a common behaviour of subordinate populations to try very hard to imitate the behaviour and values of the dominant culture. It is understandable, but regrettable. At least, it should be selective. Our culture and our language and our genetic history is what makes us Roma. If we abandon our culture and our language, all we are left with is our genetics, which we can't change. And we end up being what they call a "visible minority", gadze with dark skins, occupying the bottom level of the social hierarchy, trying hard to be like gadze but never accepted as gadze because of what we look like, and also never accepted as true Roma because if we want to find acceptance in our own community, we don't know how to behave: We don't speak our language and we don't know our culture and so we are left with nothing and belong nowhere.
Our Romane chaja are beautiful and they don't need to sell their modesty in order to be acceptable to gadze. The gadze do not respect us more because of it, they think we have stolen their culture and have none of our own. T'aven Romen, t'aven barvale kodolestar! (Be Romani and be proud of it!)
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