Thestar.com: No hope for Roma in Czech ghetto. Rosie Dimanno writes:
“KLADNO-It is the first day of school. The children are well-scrubbed and neatly dressed. Some, the littlest and most excited, have their mothers in tow as they wait at the bus stop.
The bus pulls in. The doors fold open. The driver glares. And forbids them from boarding. ‘I don’t take gypsies.’
Moms, incensed, start to yell. Kids, confused and frightened, begin to cry. The driver, unmoved, slams shut the door and the bus rumbles off, leaving the youngsters stricken and adults seared with shame.
Many of these children have just had their introductory lesson in what it means to be Roma – reviled and excluded-in this so-civilized country.”
The above applies with slight variations to many countries of the former East-bloc States, as well as some states of Western Europe’s new so-called democracies. By contrast:
[Roma Daily News]: Roma Parents Sent to Jail in Hungary Because Their Kids Skip School.
“Two Roma parents in the village of Sajokaza have received 16-month prison sentences because two of their children stopped going to school, the Budapest daily “Nepszabadsag” reported on September ll. The paper cited a child-protection officer who said that it is unprecedented in Hungary that both parents, who have six children including an infant, have been given simultaneous prison sentences. While three of their other children regularly attend school, the two oldest children have dropped out.”
Of course those children drop out because they are put at a disadvantage from the time they set foot into a non-Roma school, they remain apart, and they often meet up with bullying by the majority kids that in turn often leads to brutal violence.
So what about Roma children right here in the U.S.?
Like every group of people, minority or majority, we educate our children for a life we deem worthwhile. For the majority, even most of the minority groups, we believe that a formal education, from school to college and beyond, will achieve this. For craftsmen and tradesmen it’s often a hands-on education to excel in whatever trade or craft their children want to pursue. For the Gypsy/Roma here in the United States it has been for the continuation of their culture, for which every Roma I have ever met has a strong love, pride and loyalty that exceeds even the loyalty to his own family. That culture has been under threat ever since they set foot into Western culture for nearly 550 years ago. Yet their culture has survived In America mostly by going into hiding as they arrived in waves since hundreds of years ago. They have since mostly educated their children at home, like many other groups who felt that public schools couldn’t meet their objectives and instill the values they feel strongly about.
Enter the age of the computer. If you can at all generalize about an ethnic group’s intelligence, I would say the Gypsies would rank high. Their quick thinking, the ability to adjust to and survive highly dangerous passages is definitely a proof of their mental capabilities. So now, the Roma took to this new tool, whereby the Roma can enter and communicate with this new digital world without letting strangers into their front door, like ducks to water. Even in Kosovo, where Roma are afraid to send their children to school for fear of them being murdered, the men found ways to get access to computers and link on in internet cafes. Imagine the impact it has on Roma over here, where there is prejudice but no persecution?
However, this new tool endangers Roma culture like nothing has ever done before. For now, there is no way to control or limit the exposure of Roma children to a culture not their own. I sense among many a great hunger for higher education, and a wish for their children to excel in this world of the written word, versus the oral culture that has been theirs for so long. So how can Roma preserve the culture they so value and love, as well as their beautiful, secretive language? Only Roma can solve this newest threat. The best we can do is help not hinder. But just as the computer has invaded their lives, so their culture has long been part of ours: through music and dreams of a freer, more independent life, unfortunately the darker side of prejudice and the need to enforce sameness as well. But there is no doubt in mind, the loss of their ancient culture would be ours as well.