Margareta Matache and Cornel West on the common struggle of African Americans and Roma against white normativity
Margareta Matache, a Roma rights activist and scholar who directs the Roma Program at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and Cornel West, an American author and civil rights activist who is currently Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard, have co-authored an analysis for The Guardian newspaper in the UK on the commonalities between the struggles of African Americans and Romani people for equality. The piece notes that the history of African Americans and Romani people bear similarities with respect to the way "white policymakers" have employed similar tactics against members of both groups in order to maintain "white normativity, social power, and privilege".
Matache and West write that while the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade has gradually become more or less understood in the USA in terms of its appalling human cost, the country of Romania has yet to fully acknowledge the legacy of the enslavement of the Roma by the Orthodox Church and state institutions on its territory into the 19th century. Material on this history has only recently been mandated for study in high schools there, according to representatives of the Impreuna NGO who have spoken with news server Romea.cz.
The authors note that even though structural discrimination such as that experienced by both African Americans and Roma is faced by marginalized groups worldwide, "global solidarity among the oppressed fails to materialize". They describe compliance to "white normativity" as the norm in societies where the marginalized live in fear.
Matache is also a co-author of a 2015 policy brief on discrimination against Romani children in the education systems of Europe, "Segregation of Roma Children in Education – Successes and Challenges". The most recent edition of the Harvard Journal of Health and Human Rights is a special issue on Roma.
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