Monday, July 30, 2012

WALKING FROM HOPELESSNESS TO HORROR – The Romanian Gypsies.

I am not an academic researcher, I am not a journalist, I am a novelist who has known the Gypsy people for most of my life. I am a European by origin who has grown up in World War II. Then too people were persecuted and nailed to the cross, anybody in Germany who did not agree with the Nazis. We were lucky insofar that we were never caught and trapped in those death camps at the mercy of common men turned full-time abusers. Through massacres and ever present death, what gave us wings was hope in a world on the other side of war.
I am sure it is what held Romanian Gypsies/Roma together and going. In Romania they were enslaved until 1865, again I am no academic researcher, but that is what I have read over and over - then pushed out of sight into abject poverty and neglect, no human rights, no opportunity. But, and this is merely human, I am convinced that hope kept them believing in a better future, somewhere down the line.
Europe Unites. The barriers to their prisons FINALLY opened. The day, I am sure, they had been praying for over a century has become reality. Their leaders, those with knowledge of the world on the other side of the invisible barbed wire that has kept them closed off from the world at large, warns them. They do not have the tools to survive in the modern world, they never had access to them.
Again, I compare their destiny to my own. Walking out of the world of war where hope had made life despite it all even beautiful at moments, we walked into the aftermath, where a whole culture lay bombed to the ground and the horrible truth of Nazi persecutions now lay bare, destroying all remaining beliefs in humanity.
Again, racial hatred is out of the bag, is spreading as Europe is nailing her Gypsies to the cross.

AMERICAN GYPSY - Defiling through Distortion.

What if……….British TV were to arrive into the States wanting to create a reality show on The American Family of Today! What if they chose Vermont, a state in tough economic shape? There they decide to choose, not the most enterprising among the locals running their own small businesses, not those working two jobs to keep their families afloat, but some of the ones perpetually on welfare, fat women with babies, often officially divorced (but not separated) to increase welfare checks, their men out in the woods shooting guns. Of course those welfare recipients would be more than happy to comply = extra money, little effort. Now let us image that particular reality show would turn into an instant hit in Great Britain. Would it be far-fetched to assume Americans would be enraged at such a distortion?

So are the Gypsies/Roma , as well as Gypsy activists viewing an off-the-wall Gypsy family being portrayed as your average Roma family, it being clear to anyone who really knows Roma, that they are acting, making money with a performance that has little to do with the life of most Gypsies I have known in Europe or the U.S . Petitions were sent to me to ban the show, pointing out that while this outrageous distortion is being broadcast, Gypsies/Roma are persecuted in Europe almost like a rerun of the holocaust . Then……………

I talked to a friend, one who knows more about the life of Roma in America than anybody else I know, is more dedicated to fighting for a better future for these people who have been persecuted since their arrival into Western culture more than 700 years ago. To my surprise he said to me: On the contrary, maybe this will help bring the problems of the Roma people out in the open. Find out the truth behind the killer prejudice. Shine a light on persecutions that are spread all over Europe, but silenced by the press.

So let's start a discussion. First item

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, a blockbuster in the U.K. Fact or Fiction?

www.soniameyerauthor.com

Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies

Monday, December 12, 2011

Horses in Life and Fiction.

Those who do not know them, fear them, rightfully so. A horse's physical power is far superior to ours. A horse, if so inclined, could easily maim or even kill a person, no matter what their size. Genghis Kahn was killed by a horse.
Yet horses, purely vegetarian, have gentle and generous souls. Their eyes reflect all the beauty and sadness of our world. Once bonded with a rider, patience and respect, will have results that last. Whereas in moments that matter, training through mere discipline often fails. Although many fear men, they pick up on the nurturing qualities of women.
The life and adventures of Dosha, the heroine of my novel, depicts such bond of horse and rider that will last till death will them part, and beyond.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Independent Book Stores Flourish in Vermont

In a state many highly educated readers have chosen in search of a more fulfilling life, these bookstores have turned into community centers for kindred spirits. Owned and run by lovers of the written word, protectors of an art in trouble, those who work there appear like members of an extended family. Should you be a reader, or a writer, or a child ready to start exploring the magic of the written word, you will feel at once at home. I live in a tiny village, yet there are two of these inspiring stores nearby. The bigger one, Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vt. (a must see should you come visit this wonderful area), consists of three expansive levels of books, displayed with thought and enthusiasm, of toys and children’s book to inspire the young, and a generous coffee shop where you can meet, mingle and chat. 


The second one, Mystic Valley Books in Chester, Vt., is more of the same on a smaller scale, but worth the visit. Both feature calendars packed with readings by authors and other literary events.

These stores are reminiscent of a time when literature in the U.S. was flourishing. To my mind, having fought the struggle of marketing my own novel for close to a year, they are essential to the survival of literature as an art in our country. Like Public Radio, they deserve our support. We need them as much as they need us. Go browse, and choose them as their place to buy. With both the visit and the buy you demonstrate your support.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HILLARY CLINTON, Role model for today's WOMEN LEADERSHIP.

It took me time to grasp the leadership qualities of Hillary Clinton. I was used to more flamboyant female leaders. Women partisans I knew during WW2. Hemingway captured the type perfectly in Pilar (“For Whom the Bell Tolls”), women who openly confront men. Grandmotherly types like Golda Meir, who didn’t budge from threat and gained the respect of negotiators in male dominated societies. In fact my novel “Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies” depicts women of all types, from the needy to the radical to the wise leadership of an elder. I myself grew up liberated, not by choice, but by lack of the normal protections of childhood and young adulthood. So when I found myself surrounded by raging American feminists in the Sixties, I felt the movement was misguided, mainly because many believed in bashing men to elevate women, whereas I felt that a healthy society is one of shared power, equal but different, male and female complementing each other.

Since then I have met women who have risen to the top of leadership in corporations and government positions. I have witnessed many of them mistaking toughness and lack of compassion for leadership. Hillary is of a different ilk, a woman of compassion and a leader with vision. When her husband strayed, instead of breaking up her family, marking her daughter with relationship insecurities for life, and leaving herself remaining wealthy but alone like so many other divorcees for the rest of her days, Hillary opted to work it out. I have watched her carefully stand her ground, getting her points and messages across in male dominated societies. She has been bravely and tenaciously fighting for women’s rights across the world. I even came across notices of Hillary trying to stand by Europe’s most vulnerable and once again viciously persecuted minority, the ancient, once nomadic Roma/Gypsies population.

We have every reason to be proud of our Hillary, hard working, smart, a true woman and effective world leader in her role as US Secretary of State.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Florida: EVICTION OF GYPSY/ROMA FROM THEIR ONE-OF-A-KIND CHURCH

There I sit, long-time Gypsy activist, present at the latest episode of an 11 year old struggle to evict Roma Christians from their church in Broward county, the first all Gypsy church I had ever come across. Nor had I come across a Gypsy leader, this one a Roma pastor, who remained in place defending the rights of his people. In Europe Gypsies have been persecuted for the 600 years they have lived in Western culture, but, this is America, I proudly thought.

The half-circle of county commissioners, deciders of the fate of this very special church, sit on the elevated stage ahead of us and are still dealing with main county business - money money money - thrown back and forth like ping pong balls.

I happen to also be a survivor of and witness to Nazi persecutions, baggage that remains grafted to my brain. So now I am eyeing those in whose hands lies the fate of my religious friends. I have no reason to trust bureaucrats, for the Nazis within all the chaos and tragedies they caused remained superb bureaucrats, everything was done by the book, their book. So now I am eying this set of bureaucrats in front of me with caution. To my relief I note that they are of mixed ethnicity and gender. Seven, I remember, women, two men. White, Jewish, Black. I have 3 minutes to convince them of the symbolic value of this missionary church, its importance reaching way beyond Broward County, for once again, Gypsies, now known as Roma, are being openly persecuted all across Europe. My life has come full circle. So called to the podium, I speak of the renewed, “silent persecution” of Europe’s now largest, most vulnerable minority. How, this pastor is trying to recruit Roma missionaries to go teach Roma abroad to help themselves, the uniqueness of this church. That this is precisely what America stands for, a symbol of what raises us, Americans, morally above all other countries I know and have lived in.

Deliberations resume. The black man, new member on the board, starts speaking on the Gypsies’ behalf, but - backs away. Heigh, I think, he’s new on the block. The one white man, vice-mayor off (I believe) Broward county speaks up, hero of my soul, about the purpose behind the eviction now, there are no permits issued, the Roma are paying their bills, they are a positive presence in an area of rehab centers, looking industrial. So

Why?

The women speak up, misspeak. One young black lady says – falsely so – the Gypsies haven’t been paying their bills, and that she got this from channel 7. Which rightfully infuriates the Gypsy pastor, who has paid his bills, always, he has gone by the book, always. He is not allowed to speak, at first, because he’s not on the list. But then he talks anyway, he has proof of not being delinquent in payments or anything else, ever reminding them

This is a CHURCH!

Question is, I thought, would it have happened to any other church, temple, religious institution involving anybody else but GYPSIES, now called Roma?

Once again, presiding women take center stage: They want to get it over with, be done with it, enough already. Moneymoneymoney, that has changed hands, etc. etc. etc. Once again, flashbacks to my past, where you had a better chance arguing for your life with a fish in the ocean than with a German bureaucrat. So here too, I was horrified at the heartless reaction of these women of different ethnic backgrounds who had been given the power to make decisions of this importance.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Writing beautifully about empty, dysfunctional lives.

There are the easy reads, the romance novels, the blockbuster novels, the mysteries and other genres. So when writers like Jonathan Franzen and the, for me, newly discovered Kevin Brockmeier come along, as a fellow writer I admire their artistic honesty, the achieved mastery of their craft, and that they are able to entice the readership away from the type of writing that is meant, above all, to distract. They, Franzen and Brockmeier, do what literature is meant to do - reflect and thereby translate the lives most of us have created around our existence. Whereas Franzen’s characters seem actively to rise above their emptiness through frantic activities, Brockmeier describes the isolation and loneliness seen through often poetic, longing eyes. What I personally get out of reading their literature, is that the me-generation has left many of us with mostly that, the me alone.

Sonia Meyer, author
Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies.