Vojtěch Lavička: If you are a normally-functioning member of Czech society, non-Roma do not consider you Romani
Vojtěch Lavička, a moderator, musician, and one of the most significant Romani minority figures in the Czech Republic, has given a video interview to the journalist Jindřich Šídlo for his program on the online Seznam.cz portal. Lavička discusses how his opinions on several basic questions have altered over the years, such as his opinion of promoting Romani people in education, what upsets him about Czech people, or why, in his view, Czech society cannot see Romani people who are "normal".
"Non-Roma consider me an honorable exception, somebody who is beautifully behaved and decent," he explained when asked why he hyperbolically refers to himself as a "VIP Roma", and continued: "Today being a Gypsy or Rom is equated with being a parasite, a problem. If you don't behave that way and function 'normally' in society, then you stop being considered Romani and society no longer sees you as such."
Lavička said he does not consider himself exceptional in the least. In his words, he just surfed the wave of the 1989 revolution in Czechoslovakia and managed to graduate from high school, one of only a few Romani students in the country to do so at the time.
"I had a bit of luck, it's not about me being an exceptional Rom," said Lavička, who at the age of 17, just after the Velvet Revolution, was a co-founder of the Romanes-language broadcasting by what was then still Radio Czechoslovakia. When asked by the moderator what most bothers him about Czech people, he answered: "Many things upset me about Czechs - whenever there is bad weather or some other problem here, they look for a scapegoat to blame it on. This is not just about Romani people - now, for example, the scapegoat is the Islamists. Next it will be somebody else."
Lavička also discussed how some of his opinions have altered over time. "I used to say the ball was in the Romani people's court. I used to say that they have to break through and prove themselves. A certain number of us have managed that, but now the time has come for the whites, if I am to speak in a politically incorrect way, to aid us also. I don't mean with money, but rather with establishing conditions - for example, at high schools. Today I would be all for affirmative action and quotas, even though 20 years ago I rejected that idea."
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