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Tomáš Ščuka: Romani society has unrealistic expectations of the civil society members on the Czech Govt Roma Council

10.9.2019 14:07
Tomáš Ščuka
Tomáš Ščuka

Dear readers, you have certainly noticed the repeated criticisms being made recently of the Czech Government Council on Roma Community Affairs, and indirectly of its civil society members, criticisms being especially voiced by members of the public who are Romani. Personally, I welcome any constructive criticism and discussion about anything that can aid us Roma, I assess such critiques as positive.

Unfortunately, criticism that is dispassionate and objective is as rare as saffron here - on the contrary, more and more would-be activists, experts or politicians are coming forward and confusing our community by repeating nonsense. Always, when it comes to this phenomenon, I ask myself whether these people are actually interested in improving the lives of Roma, or whether their own personal interests are more what is at stake - frequently accompanying their previous failures to represent the Romani community.

Instead of the capacity for self-criticism with respect to these repeated failures, these individuals reflect their anger, disappointment and fury publicly, through social media. Facebook is gradually becoming overwhelmed by live broadcasts where unsuccessful people make charges that are full of false rumors and of the desire to publicly humiliate those who are actually active and have the experience and prerequisites needed to perform their work.

It is education, as the main assumption for application of oneself in employment as a professional, that these critics lack most of all! Believe it or not, achieving the necessary education for employment is only just the beginning.

After that there is the hierarchy of the workflow, where each move up the ladder in an organization is actually earned. I greatly regret that this demanding path of asserting oneself in society is something of which many of our Romani people are unaware.

Some of the values we hold are damaging us today, and we Roma should speak about this more. Back to the Czech Government Council on Roma Community Affairs, though.

If we study the publicly-accessible documents about this body that we find on the website of the Office of the Government, we can ascertain much that remains still unknown to the public. For example, we can learn that this is an advisory body to the Government and that the civil society members serve there voluntarily, without entitlement to any honorarium.

The minutes of each session of the council reveal the members' work on the burning social situations of our people in the broadest possible range of localities. This means that actually we cannot consider any insinuations about allegedly high earnings, political positions or so-called "kickbacks" to the civil society members of the council as examples of constructive criticism.

In short, this advisory body criticizes policy, objects to policy, and recommends solutions for the current coexistence problems involving the Romani minority in the Czech Republic. Each civil society member was subjected to detailed assessment on the basis of his or her nomination, exactly on the basis of his or her education, expertise and professional competence.

We can, naturally, also discuss the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of such an advisory body per se. I am sure we would all support such dispassionate criticism, along with proposals for how to carry out the kind of adjustments that would guarantee the civil society members of the Council a more powerful position when it comes to addressing the lives of Roma!

For the time being, however, no such criticism is being voiced. Instead, the most diverse possible range of would-be Romani experts on inclusion, political scientists and politicians are broadcasting a negative atmosphere full of dirty slanders into the virtual Romani world. It pains me that none of them are aware of the consequences of expressing their annoyance this way.

The final result of this is that on social media, all we Roma appear to be getting along badly with each other. Basically, by doing so, we are aiding all the extremist and racist groups who want to see us in the worst possible light - by confirming their prejudices.

Esteemed readers, once we all become aware of the damage we are doing to ourselves, things in our community will begin to change. The social progress of the Roma is up to each and every one of us!

Paľikerav tumenge.

First published in Romano hangos issue no. 9/2019. Tomáš Ščuka is a member of the Czech Government Council on Romani Community Affairs.

Tomáš Ščuka, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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