Romani actor from Czech TV sitcom apologizes for using the word "gypsy" in an interview
"I sincerely apologize to all the Romani people whose feelings I hurt by saying in an interview that I don't care whether I'm a 'gypsy' or a Rom and that I prefer being called a 'gypsy'," the Romani actor Zdeněk Godla announced on 1 February. "I didn't know that it does matter."
"I had never reflected about it before, and that was an error on my part," Godla said. "Please, if you can, forgive me my ignorance of our own history."
The star of the sitcom "Most!", speaking in an interview for news server iDNES.cz, used the word "gypsy" several times. The news server then used it in the headline for the entire article, which was "I have to explain to the Gypsies that it's a comedy, says 'Franta' from the Most! series".
Godla's use of the word captured the attention of the reporter, who asked in the interview: "I'm hearing you use the words 'Romák' [Romani guy] and 'cikán' [gypsy]. Will it offend you if somebody says 'white' to you?"
Godla responded: "Jesus and Mary, no! I like being called a gypsy. I'm used to it."
Speaking to news server Romea.cz, Godla said the use of the word "gypsy" does not bother anybody in his surroundings. "Then somebody wrote to me and explained it in detail," Godla told Romea.cz.
Today's form of the word "Gypsy" dates back to the 11th century, when Romani people were confused with those belonging to the sect of the so-called Athinganoi. From the beginning, the designation had a negative connotation.
For that reason, Romani educators began to promote the term that Romani people have, since time immemorial, used to refer to themselves in their own language - "Roma". The word "Roma" is an older designation than the term "Gypsy".
There is a very widespread, erroneous impression that the word "Roma" was allegedly "invented" during the First World Romani Congress near London in 1971. However, what happened in 1971 was that representatives of Romani people from many different countries simply agreed to advocate for using the designation "Roma" (as well as other minority autonyms - self-designations - such as Sinti, etc.) instead of "Gypsy/gypsy" and its variations.
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