Monday, April 26, 2010


[Roma Daily News] American student discovering "Gypsies in France."

I hope I am not the only one upset about this tale, of an American
student coming across her first live Gypsies in Paris/France. Her
perception vacillates between the Disney depiction of the Gypsy girl
Esmeralda of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and upon meeting desperate
Gypsies trying to survive by begging and/or stealing in the streets,
snapping to the conclusion that the latter had to be part of their DNA.

Should you blame the girl? We all know racial prejudice starts in the
home. But this is no child, this is a student studying global studies
and history. Her brain should be trained to question before jumping to

What she saw had very little to do with Gypsies. It had everything to do
with poverty. When I was a young girl, living in Italy in the 50's, the
same behavior, theft, pick-pocketing and much worse was common in the
streets of Italy. Then the perpetrators were part of Italy's vast
poverty in a society that to me, a child of war, seemed feudal: The very
rich, little in between, and a vast incredibly poor underclass. They
had the advantage of at least being in the country of their own. The
poor Gypsies the student came across often are refugees of a war in
Yugoslavia, where many were used as human shields. Most of the ones in
the street are homeless, hungry, desperate in a world that doesn't seem
to care.

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