‘Gypsy and traveller families ‘hounded out’ of areas in act of ‘social cleansing’ as councils impose sweeping bans’ was the ominous heading of a story printed in the Independent last month. It may sound like a news article from 1940s Italy, but this demonstrates the alarming fact that antigypsyism is perceived by many to be the last socially “acceptable” form of racism in the UK today.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: article explores discrimination, racism, hate speech and antigypsyism and includes derogatory language.
Don’t say gypo or gypped. Pikey or tinker. Don’t put up ‘No Travellers’ signs.
If you are not Romani, never wear Gypsy-themed costumes at Hallowe’en. And don’t call yourself Gypsy because you think you’re free spirited. Or because you’ve been to India, or believe in chakras, or live in a campervan or something. These things are racist towards Romani people and Irish Travellers. It’s called antigypsyism.
This is the specific form of racism directed against Roma, Sinti, Travellers, Manush, Balkan Egyptians, Ashkali, Yenish and others who are stigmatized as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination.
Unfortunately, there is a lot more to it than a few nasty words and some garishly tacky costumes. In order to fight this phenomenon in our society, you need to understand how deep the rabbit hole really goes.