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May 24, 2022



Jana Horváthová: Institutional racism still exists, many Roma have no faith in official structures

30.1.2020 6:49
Jana Horváthová as a guest on the DVTV program in January 2020. (PHOTO: DVTV)
Jana Horváthová as a guest on the DVTV program in January 2020. (PHOTO: DVTV)

Jana Horváthová, the director of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno who is also an historian, was invited to DVTV's online discussion program on 23 January. She and moderator Daniela Drtinová spoke about the current state of coexistence between non-Roma and Romani people in the Czech Republic, the education of Romani children, and the controversial opinions of Stanislav Křeček, one of the candidates for the next Public Defender of Rights.

"Many of the Romani people who want to get involved in addressing their own affairs do not have enough of an opportunity to do so. Above all, I see Parliament as playing a big role - there they would, as elected representatives, be able to do a great deal to aid the integration of Romani people because they understand them and these problems. However, because the larger political parties don't put Romani candidates in electable spots on their candidate lists, they don't get into Parliament," Horváthová said when asked what she makes of Křeček's opinion that Romani people should address their own affairs by themselves.

During the interview Horváthová said that while the pursuit of good coexistence must come from both "sides", it is also necessary to be aware that a large proportion of the majority society still discriminates against Romani people and is influenced by stereotypes. "Certainly there must be effort on both sides, but we have to say that stereotypical thinking has long been at work in this society. There is discrimination against Romani people, who are forced by this black-and-white, stereotypical thinking into positions from which they are unable to defend themselves. They are labeled and referred to as those with whom there might be problems. We are encountering this every single day in practice, both at the Museum of Roma Culture and with our Romani colleagues who cannot find housing or sublets because of these labels," says Horváthová in the interview.

At the same time, Horváthová is convinced, on the basis of many cases, that institutional racism still exists, and a component of it has been, for example, academic work of the kind the current Human Rights Commissioner Helena Válková contributed to in the 1980s. She also shared the experience of organizing the tutoring of Romani children from an excluded locality in Brno at the museum.

According to Horváthová, Romani parents are very interested in the education of their children even though they may have just attended elementary school themselves, and the Czech school system should be more inspired by good practices from abroad, such as in Great Britain, where educators have great success in working with children from minorities whose native language is not English. You can watch the entire interview HERE (in Czech only).

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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