Giving Memory A Future
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Sinti and Roma through the eyes of others

“But how many human minds are capable of resisting the slow, fierce, incessant, imperceptible driving force of indoctrination?” (P. Levi, The Reawakening).

What people say about the Roma...

• Rates of hostility  shown towards Roma and Sinti people in the EU are highest in the Czech Republic and in Italy (Source: Eurobarometer 2008).

• The least popular people:   81% of Italians say they like Roma and Sinti people very little or not at all. How Italians classify ‘Gypsies’: thieves (92%), narrow-minded (87%), choosing to live in camps on the outskirts of cities (83%), marginalized (65%), having a strong sense of personal freedom (85%) (Source: ISPO, Interior Ministry of Italy).

• Statistical surveys  on anti-Gypsy sentiments in Europe and in Italy.

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The mass media

(From the cover story published by the Italian newsweekly Panorama,
in its issue of July 10, 2008)

• The media can play a decisive role in spreading a distorted picture of Roma and Sinti people and in reflecting or generating clichés. In some cases, it may become a habit, or a sort of journalistic shorthand to associate 'Gypsies' with crime.

• World Wide Web and social networks:  comments about 'Gypsies' can be highly racist, and the Porrajmos or Gypsy Holocaust, is sometimes openly invoked.

• Italian and European media: a few cases.

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Beyond clichés...

"Rom, cittadini dell'Italia che verrà: Kemo"
['Roma people, citizens of future Italy: Kemo']
(Associazione 21 luglio)

"Rom, cittadini dell'Italia che verrà: Ruzica"
['Roma people, citizens of future Italy: Ruzica']
(Associazione 21 luglio)

"The persecution of Roma and Sinti people in Italy under the Fascist regime is a story still largely ignored by contemporary historians. Including an historic study of this issue in ‘possible policies’ for the modern age does not mean trying to limit present day realities to a simplistic and pointless exercise stuck in the past. Instead, this narration of past events is relevant because it allows for the exposure of some stereotypical paradigms still in use in Italy today when addressing Roma issues. These models are deeply distorted by the commonly-shared image of ‘Gypsies’ held by the majority of the population.
The concept of ‘Gypsies’, which still survives in Italian society today, is actually closely connected with the past. It is virtually identical to the stereotypes used by Italy's Fascist regime to plan and justify its racial persecution of this ethnic group. The fact that such interpretive models are still used and can even be found in the language of legislators and institutions prevents Roma and Sinti people from definitively entering into the post-Auschwitz era. They are lagging behind because we have not even started to debunk the stereotypical portrayals of ‘Gypsies’ that became so ingrained during the Fascist dictatorship. This is why racial discrimination is now hiding behind a sort of ‘democratic racism’ that can only be successfully eradicated by a slow and patient cultural revolution, spearheaded by education

(Bravi L., "La 'questione zingari' nell'Italia fascista. La costruzione culturale di una categoria razziale" ['The “Gypsy question” in Fascist Italy. The cultural creation of a racial group'], in Vitale T., "Politiche possibili", Carocci, Roma, 2009, pp. 28-29).


From clichés to anti-Gypsyism

(La Repubblica,
1 aprile 2011)

• Urban legends.

• Discriminatory practices.

• Politics: Anti-Gypsyism can be played to curry favor with the electorate.

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Fighting clichés...

The negative, or at any rate the mistaken perception of Roma and Sinti people comes from ignorance and from stereotypes engrained in the imagination of the majority of society.

• The "Dosta!" campaign: "Dosta!" (a Romani word for "Enough!") is the name of an awareness-raising campaign launched by the Council of Europe, which aims to bring non-Roma closer to Roma citizens by breaking down the barriers caused by prejudices and stereotypes.

• Is this a stereotype? Stereotype n° 1...

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