Czech TV journalist Richard Samko on the "Romani star" scandal
It took me a few days to be able to write a response to the article recently published by Mf DNES and iDNES.cz about Klaudia Dudová. I am disgusted.
I am not questioning the basic reporting here. Yes, it's true, the rent in question was not paid.
According to the article, it was not paid by the "Romani star of the film 'The Way Out'". Applause, applause, applause.
The editors have managed to hit the bull's-eye. They have captured the attention of (and pleased) all those who sing for joy when Roma can be dragged through the mud and fuel added to the fire that burns against them here.
Applause, applause, applause. Did you all notice the opening photograph used in the video posted to iDNES.cz along with the article?
That photo is of the actress showing a tattoo on the side of her hand. Just great.
The message of iDNES.cz is clear: She's a typical Gypsy, here you go. An actress, but still a typical gypsy like all the rest.
Excellent. I read the statement on the issue by the paper's Editor-in-Chief, Jaroslav Plesl, with interest as well.
That was excellent too. I was struck by several of his propositions in particular.
The first was this: "We strictly reject any allegations of racism," Mf DNES writes. Why, then,was the online headline of the article changed from "Romani star..." to "Award-winning star of the film 'The Way Out' owes back rent" ("Oceněná hvězda filmu Cesta ven dluží na nájemném")?
Another claim that struck me: "In journalism I stick to the principle that our main task is to describe reality. We should not conceal anything, we should not distort anything, we should not embellish anything. If we had failed to print Janoušek's piece, we might have been whitewashing reality for a while, but the problem would not disappear."
Words are essential to descriptions of reality. The author of that article and others like it know, however, nothing at all about the reality of this situation.
This is about the reality of Romani life. Perhaps the author of that article and others like it don't behave this way, but for Klaudia and hundreds of other Romani people, the most essential relationship of their lives is the one they have with their father and mother.
We Roma do our best to do the maximum for our parents. That is why Klaudia helped her mother find housing.
The big question is whether her mother would have managed to find housing on her own. I am convinced she would not have.
Klaudia represented a guarantee to the owner of that apartment. That is essential here.
Unfortunately, our parents make mistakes too, and they frequently do not tell their children about them. A problem caused by a mistake may not get addressed until it cannot be ignored, and sometimes by then it's too late.
This case was most probably an example of that. However, there is more going on here.
This is where the facts, the reality about which the author of that article knows nothing, come into play. If a Romani person becomes a public figure, if he or she attains an important position and the credit of reliability, that has several shadow sides to it.
Unfortunately, such a person becomes very visible, and unfortunately, for many Romani people, and especially for his or her family members, he or she is also now considered the person who will always help others. The reasons for this are clear.
The famous person has money and a position, so he or she should be able to solve everything. Reality, however, is different.
Those relying on the famous person don't believe that reality is different, they don't see it. Because they don't get it, they are capable of causing the famous person unnecessary shame, and they are frequently unaware that this is even possible.
These people only realize this once there is a media ruckus and their child is having problems because of them. That's reality.
As I wrote at the start here, I am not pretending that a problem didn't occur. These people didn't pay their rent, but how many people can say they always pay in full and on time?
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