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24 September 2014
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Romany Roots: Amy
I'm half Romany and my mum used to live in a caravan until she was eight, but then it got harder and harder to find stopping places. We live in a house now, and don't really follow the "old" way of life at all - apart from a few basic things like Romany words and songs I know and how to not be mokadi and how to cook "Joey Grey".

We've just come back from a holiday in a real old vardo, and it's really made me want to buy one when I'm older and go off on the drom for at least part of the year - and somehow I got the feeling that I'd be a lot more welcome in an old caravan than a new one, coz it seems like the gaujas have two stereo types: one is that Gypsies (who live in modern caravans) are thieves and they're dirty etc. and the other is that Gypsies still live in the pretty little caravans like they have for "hundreds of years" and live idyillic care-free lives wandering from place to place selling flowers.

Stereotypes

A lot of gaujas can't seem to realise that they are only stereotypes and they're not true, and some gaujas think that the "old style" Gypsies are the only real Romanies and if you live in a metal caravan you're not a Romany.

It annoys me when gaujas think that Gypsies are just anyone who lives in a caravan, and if you don't you can't be one. It also annoys me when people criticise gaujas for not being Romany enough - don't you see it's the gaujas with their stupid laws which border on being racist that force Gypsies into kennas and into the gauja education system which makes the Romany people marry gaujas and lose their roots - like what happened with my mum and her sisters.

And often when gaujas blame travellers for leaving rubbish behind them it's only because they move them on without time to clear up properly - and bin-men don't call at unofficial stopping sites. So the gaujas create the problems and then blame the Romanies.

School

As for school - I've never been called anything racist because to look at people couldn't tell I've even got a single drop of Romany blood, and I don't talk like a traveller and my mum went to university and became a teacher.

But sometimes friends who don't know, make snide comments about what Gypsies are and aren't and it really makes me angry and I can't even answer back because a) I'm really quiet and don't like confrontations and b) part of me thinks they won't take me seriously and just say: "but you're not REALLY a Gypsy though, so it doesn't matter."

And I know plenty of people who are more open about their roots who get in fights and even my step-cousin, who isn't even at all Romany got called a pikey when people found out my mum (who's her teacher) was a Romany.

And last term in history we were learning about World War II and it really upset me because I used to respect my teacher because he seemed really open-minded about stuff but then he taught us for a whole half-term about the holocaust without hardly mentioning the Gypsies once.

The only mention of Gypsies I have in my history book is the essay I did where my mum looked up loads of stuff on the internet for me and I included it all.

And now, to my final point, I really HATE shops which have slogans like "Tribal Rhythms" and a picture of a girl dressed up like a "Gypsy" and then the gauja girls all try and dress up and be Gypsies when they'll never be.

And I also think that it's a terrible shame when young Romany kids try to be like the worst of gauja children and get into drugs and stuff. It's the worst possible thing they could do to for the reputation of the Romany people.

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