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In search of a positive Roma identity

October 14th, 2011

There is no Hungarian Gypsy nation, a Roma activist claims. He suggests that instead of blaming the majority, the Roma should create a positive identity for themselves that could help the gypsies to become self-reliant and integrate into society.

We are not one, and have never been. …  We are not brothers, we have never been part of a community. … There is no Gypsy people,  no Gypsy nation, no healthy and lively Gypsy identity. … I do not belong to you. Although you keep speaking about your nation, I do not have have such an affiliation,” sociologist and Roma activist István Forgács writes in a passionate, manifesto-like opinion piece in liberal Hírszerző.

According to Forgács, the alleged “Roma brotherhood” is only united by “grievance politics,” which blames the underprivileged social status of the Roma on the “gadjo”, the non-Roma Hungarians.

In order to successfully overcome their disadvantages, the Roma must acknowledge responsibility for their meagre lot. “Dad spends his welfare money on drinks. Mum is beaten up by the usury lenders. … Our favourite schoolteacher is beaten up weekly by the mother of a classmate. Many of you do not admit it, but these are the main reasons why we do not have access to the financial resources we need. … This is what the Roma community should understand,” Forgács insists.

In order to create a strong and proud Roma nation, able to break out of poverty, a common Gypsy identity should be built, he recommends. “It would be crucial to find values that we could all proudly identify with, and which could unite us. Today we have no such a thing, and so even the Roma do not respect each other.”