Singer Monika Bagárová on Romani identity: Nothing to be ashamed of
On 2 January, Story magazine published an interview with 22-year-old Romani singer Monika Bagárová. The interview was conducted during the preparations for her performance during the opening of the Roma Spirit awards ceremony in the Czech Republic last month.
One topic of the interview was Bagárová's relationship to her Romani identity. "I think today it's modern to be Romani, it's nothing to be ashamed of. There are many of us, I'm not the only one. I certainly keep up with the times, I don't live a nomadic life - I don't get around on horses, I don't sing by a campfire and I don't read people's cards... To be a modern Romani woman means, for me, that my family and I are educated and we listen to modern music in addition to Romani music - which, naturally, is beautiful," Bagárová said.
The singer then went on to say that people in the Czech Republic usually imagine socially vulnerable families under the concept of "typical Roma". Families like hers, however, live "decent, modern" lives.
Bagárová told Story magazine that she considers one indicator of Romani identity to be hospitality, which she believes is an absolutely obvious aspect of any Romani household: "We do anything and everything for a visitor who comes to our home." She also said she has never had a problem with her Romani identity, not even at school: "I believe the basis of that is the kind of a person I am, the opinion that I have of myself. Basically, nobody has ever even asked me about my Romani identity. Maybe it's because I don't let myself be drawn into provocations, I never participate in any provocative discussions on that topic, it seems unnecessary to me to explain something to people who don't want to listen and who have already made their minds up."
The singer also explained the stand she takes on online discussions: "I don't want to get into a position where I have to defend myself. Racism and everything associated with it makes me tired if I have to address it with people who don't have their heads together."
Bagárová said she when she has commented on Romani issues, it has been for other reasons. She gave as an example raising awareness that Romani people, as a minority, should do their best to be unified, an effort she believes isn't working yet, especially in the world of the arts: "Why aren't the others glad when somebody who represents Romani people is successful? I'm not talking about myself, but about many other figures. I haven't made any statements about the issue since then."
When asked by the Story reporter whether she would get a "top grade" for her Romanes language skills, Bagárová answered: "I don't know if I would get a top grade, but I do understand Romanes, I just don't speak it, unfortunately, or I speak very little. In our family, on my father's side, everybody speaks Romanes fluently. That's super, and I think I have a big deficiency in that area and I should do something about it."
- Changes at Czech university revive longstanding dispute about the existence of the Romani ethnicity
- Ethnologist says Romani people in the Czech Republic are reducing the plurality of their identity
- The burden of identity: How to survive your Romani ethnicity
- Jana Horváthová: I was ashamed of my Roma origin for a long time
- Czech-Slovak co-production of TV singing contest to feature Romani celebrity on the jury
- Romani vocalists from Czech Republic and Slovakia record pop music video duet
- Romani sisters launch new music video in the Czech Republic
- Documentarist says Czech rap artist Shot stands out because he draws from real life
- Czech Republic will not hold a Roma Spirit award ceremony this year due to lack of financing and criticism by some Romani community members
- International Duke of Edinburgh's Award given to students in Prague
- Czech Republic: Prestigious literary award goes to book some commentators and Romani people find offensive
- First Romani woman and second Romani person in history will be beatified this Saturday: Emilia Fernández Rodríguez
- Romani social worker on growing up at the Chanov housing estate in the Czech Republic
- Romani women say they do not feel like equal citizens in the Czech Republic and do not feel safe there
- Radoslav Banga: I walked out of the Czech music awards because Nazism does not belong in public life
- European Roma Spirit Awards: Impreuna, Roma Education Support Trust, Romea.cz, Spišský Hrhov, Sabiha Suleiman