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Commentary: "Yuck, the gypsies touched that!"

Prague, 27.11.2012 0:31, (ROMEA)

"Yuck, the gypsies touched that!“ The cry came from the mother of a two-year-old infant. Startled, he burst into tears. He had taken an interest in something on top of a concrete trashcan on the square of a North Bohemian town. The first instruction to leave the trashcan alone didn't end his fascination - he seemed not to have understood it.

From their appearance and behavior, I guessed they were probably from a poor family. The mother was wearing a slightly grubby pink coat and smoking while she loudly conversed through the mobile phone pressed to her ear, checking on her child with a quick glance from time to time as he rooted about in search of something fun.

I recalled that white mother when I read the article in Právo entitled "No one likes Romani people, but extremists are losing" on 22 November. I don't know who actually touched the trashcan before the child did, and his mother probably didn't know either. The square was as silent as if everyone around had long since died out on that dull, windy, late Saturday afternoon. The mother, however, had used what she evidently considered her weightiest argument for not touching the trashcan.

In the folk concept, the shorthand term "gypsy" means something truly detestable. I is basically a synonym for an asocial person. This conceptual stereotype has lasted for decades and has been handed down for generations. "They're like white gypsies," said our parents 50 years ago, talking about disorderly people whose personal appearance or living quarters were neglected and who were troubled in every way. If the respondents who were contacted by the STEM polling agency recently recalled only notions such as those when they were answering questions about Romani people, then I'm not surprised the results were that "no one" likes them.

First published in Deník Referendum.

Miroslav Hudec, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Anticiganismus, Cigáni, Romové, Commentary, Czech republic, Racism, Roma



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