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June 26, 2022



Iveta Bílková: Czech society should not tolerate words like "Cigán", "Cigoši", etc.

18.10.2019 8:14
The non-Romani actor Roman Zach performing a
The non-Romani actor Roman Zach performing a "Gipsy Kings" number on the "Your Face Has a Famous Voice" program on TV NOVA in the Czech Republic. (2019) (PHOTO: TV NOVA)

[This opinion piece is responding to a previous commentary by Patrik Banga, "Social media is depriving us of context and driving us all crazy"]


I would like to express my opinion about the recent events that happened on the television program "Your Face Has a Famous Voice" and the other excesses associated with that affair. Personally, I do not consider the reaction on social media to have been a "campaign" or an unjustified attack on TV Nova or the performer Zach when the "Gipsy Kings"  music came up for him to lip-synch to.

I am convinced that in the 21st century, words like "Cigán", "Cigoši" and other similar names have no business being used in this society. That kind of designation for Romani people is unacceptable.

I dare say the choice to use the "Gipsy Kings" music could have even been TV Nova taking revenge for a different controversy that was unleashed when one of the contestants on that same program performed an imitation of the late Romani singer Věra Bílá. Speaking as a Romani woman, I cannot imagine going to deal with the authorities here and being referred to by a state employee as a "Cigoška".

Naturally, anybody who did that would just be "joking". Why are we so anxious about this recent case?

A remark made in private is different from one that hundreds of thousands of people hear. If it can happen on television, then I guess I'd have to accept being designated with such a term in the workplace, for example.

Why not? As a Romani woman I am not considered equal to the majority society - apparently, this society will never accept me as a full-fledged inhabitant of this country.

Even if I ignore all the babbling and complaining about this through social media that some commentators find so petty, I must agree with the complaint that was filed with the Council on Radio and Television Broadcasting about this episode. On the one hand, we should complain out of respect for the artists in the "Gipsy Kings" who, alongside Věra Bílá, have been promoting Romani culture on the world scene, while on the other hand we should complain in order to condemn the behavior of the representatives of TV Nova, who apparently are overflowing with antigypsyism and have no intention of honoring the principles of 21st-century Europe.

Iveta Bílková, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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