THE TORY RECORD ON GYPSIES, ROMA & TRAVELLERS MAKES FOR GRIM READING

by Jonathan Lee

A political party in the UK is defined by its members and its representatives. Regardless of the leader, the real character of a party is found in the policies it puts forward, and the things that its cabinet members, MPs, and local councillors do and say. In the Labour Party, the about turn the party took from being the neoliberal centre-right party of Tony Blair, to the democratic socialist party of Jeremy Corbyn was brought about by the will of its members. The elected politicians of the Labour Party do not always see eye-to-eye with their leader, but if you look at the collective things they say and do, and the policies they propose, there is a broad consensus on certain values which tell you the nature of the party as a whole. The same can be said of the Conservative Party. You can read more here if you want a ten year history of Conservative hate speech against Romani and Traveller people.

The following is a summary of Conservative policies which have affected Gypsies, Roma, & Travellers during the time the Conservatives have been in power.Continue Reading

ANTIGYPSYISM WILL NOT BE CURED BY NEOLIBERAL WISHFUL THINKING

by Jonathan Lee

There is a mendacious yet persistent fantasy that Roma could be saved from the horrors of racism and discrimination if only they weren’t so poor. It is the conservative idea that the free market can cure racism, that racism is purely a product of economic disparity, and that if only Roma were more economically engaged, most of the nasty symptoms of antigypsyism would simply fall away. Continue Reading

IN DEFENCE OF STUDENT POLITICS

By Bradley Allsop

The only way to make the word ‘politics’, that great indicator of all manner of corruption and trickery, more contemptible is to plonk the word ‘student’ in front of it. It almost feels like you‘re not pronouncing ‘student politics’ right if you do it without a sneer, or at least a shudder. Student politics has an image problem.

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IS IT FINALLY TIME FOR AN ANTIGYPSYISM INQUIRY IN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY?

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: hate speech, antigypsyism, inclusion of derogatory language.

After a Hope Not Hate survey revealed the not-so-shocking discovery that two thirds of Conservative Party Members are islamophobes, pressure has been mounting for the Tories to launch a party inquiry into Islamophobia. In a time when Jeremy Corbyn’s hummus eating habits spur fresh cries of antisemitism, it is encouraging to see that the ‘Nasty Party’ are not immune from scrutiny for the widespread racism amongst their members. Though the survey results were damning, the response from the media has been somewhat subdued. Can you imagine the backlash if a survey found that two thirds of Labour Party members believed antisemitic conspiracy theories? Or if 43% said they would prefer the UK was not led by a Jew (as Conservatives members indicated at the possibility of a Muslim Prime Minister)? The next Tory leader will inherit this scandal and may not be able to brush it off so easily.

Now that the lid has been blown off the rampant islamophobia within the Conservative Party, it’s high time other widely held racist beliefs in the party ranks were examined; not least, antigypsyism.Continue Reading

HOW IS A GYPSY SUPPOSED TO LOOK?

Jennifer Lee who is roma 1

by Jonathan Lee 

I am probably not the image most people have in their mind when they think of a Gypsy.

My mother is of mostly Irish-American stock – which gives me a few ginger wisps in my beard, and a smattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks. My hair is dark brown, not black. I don’t wear a lolo diklo (red scarf) around my neck, or a staddi kali (black trilby hat) on my head. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirt, I rarely ever dance on tables, and I have no piercings or tattoos. I live in an apartment in the centre of a European capital with a woman whom I am not married to, and I travel only about 20 minutes maximum by foot every day to go to work.

If I ask you to close your eyes and picture a Gypsy in your mind’s eye you probably see someone with bangles and gold hoop earrings, floral patterned clothing, long hair, and dark flashing eyes. They may or may not have a tambourine, and may or may not be wearing a turban with a little gem in the centre holding it up. Maybe you see a fortune teller, or a travelling metalsmith? Perhaps a musician? If you are European, more likely you also see a beggar, a thief, a criminal.Continue Reading

AN OPEN LETTER TO STEVE DOWNES, EDP.

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by Eli Lambe 

No, Soup Kitchens are not making Norwich’s “Homelessness problem” worse. It might seem that way to you, if you’re used to brushing the vulnerable off and not having to see the reality of more and more people’s lives. The easy solution – and the one that your newspaper and the local police like to peddle – is to force rough sleepers and vulnerable people out to the fringes of the city, where they’re cut off from their community and support and, most importantly it seems, you don’t have to see them.

What makes you think that your walking past the Haymarket every so often qualifies you to write about the lives of the people in the queue?Continue Reading

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO ANTIGYPSYISM

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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.Continue Reading

FIND THE DOMINATION IN THE NARRATIVE

by Eli Lambe

CW: victim blaming, transphobia, homophobia, rape

Sitting in my mum’s living room, vaguely paying attention to what she had loaded up ‘on-demand’, I started to get antsy and agitated. The programme, a gritty ITV crime-drama called “Cold Blood” kept jumping out at me with its thinly veiled victim blaming, transphobia and homophobia. Because it was being played ‘on-demand’, the same few ads kept popping up. This, along with a summer of conversations that continually went nowhere, prompted the following rant/doodle/mess…

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SKEPTA, CHANCE THE RAPPER AND RAP’S DIY REVOLUTION

by Mike Vinti

The last week or so has seen the release of two of the most anticipated projects in recent musical history; Skepta’s fourth album Konnichiwa and Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape Coloring Book.

With both MCs having made a name for themselves over the past couple of years as being pioneers in their respective fields of rap music, the release of their full length efforts has served to cement their reputations and effectively crown them as kings of their respective sides of the Atlantic. However, while both projects are excellent musically speaking, what’s most interesting about the hype surrounding both Chance and Skepta is that they’re both totally independent artists.Continue Reading

BLAST FROM THE PAST – CHRISTINA AGUILERA: STRIPPED

by Carmina Masoliver

I have a strange memory of Christina Aguilera performing Genie in a Bottle on Top of the Pops and my dad asking if I liked her songs. Strange, because it’s so unremarkable to be kept inside my head. At this stage I her career, she had made her big break, and soon enough I was listening to her album, with hits such as What a Girls Wants and Come On Over (All I Want Is You). Yet, it was three years later, when she released what I will always think of as her best album: Stripped.

I was having a hard time at school, and listening to this album was the very definition of empowering. I had been pushed out of a friendship group during a time where looking back, I honestly believe I was depressed, and this escalated to the extent where I felt I was a target for lots of different groups at school. I did make some new friends, and remember connecting with one of them through a shared love of this album. This was before we had learnt to talk about why it is that Beautiful holds so much resonance with us, but fourteen years later and we are still friends, now sharing a love of bell hooks.Continue Reading

“I’M NOT JUST SOME TOKEN BUNNY”: ZOOTROPOLIS RAISES THE BAR

by Paige Selby-Green

Disney’s 55th animated feature has been five years in the making, with a social commentary as relevant today as it was when the writers first put pen to paper. The film is an anthropomorphic crime caper following rabbit police officer Judy Hopps and con-man fox Nick Wilde. It’s full of laughs, but the lingering importance is in its more serious side.

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BE MY ROCK? TRACEY EMIN AND THE OBJECTUM-SEXUAL COMMUNITY

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by Jess Howard

This week Tracey Emin – creator of the infamous My Bed piece – announced that she had married a rock. The press, understandably, reacted vehemently, with many rolling their eyes at Emin’s well-known performance artist ways, or mocking her for doing something so seemingly comical. What the press have failed to discuss is what Emin’s recent marriage, and the backlash she has received, has done for people who identify as objectum sexual.Continue Reading

REVIEW – THE BOOK OF MORMON

by Carmina Masoliver

“You’re not going to like that,” my partner said, when I told him I was going to see The Book of Mormon. Made by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, I was aware it was a controversial production. I had also seen Avenue Q, which shared the same musical composer/lyricist, Robert Lopez. I knew there might be “offensive jokes”, despite South Park always being on after my bedtime when I was at primary school; I was relatively unfamiliar with the programme beyond 10-year-olds singing about chocolate salty balls in the playground… But I had heard good things, so I asked my Gran for us to see it as my Christmas present.Continue Reading

SEXY FILTHY GYPSIES: THE STRUGGLE FOR ROMANY IDENTITY THROUGH THE ARTS

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by Jonathan Lee 

In the post-imperialist Western world, liberal society is becoming ever more self-aware of social and cultural sensitivities, most evidently in the influence of the arts as a vehicle for perceptions of race, gender, sexuality and culture. Cultural appropriation is a topic hotly debated, and one where the divide between appropriation and appreciation can sometimes be uncertain. This ambiguity and subsequent argument is usually tied to power relationships, dichotomy in stereotypes (e.g. black hairstyles being perceived differently on white heads) and most often, the struggle for the appropriated culture to control its own identity.

The struggle for Roma to self-determine their own public identity — that being which is perceived by those outside of the Romany community — has historically been dominated by stereotypes of the ‘Gypsy other’. These myths, biases and often outright lies likely stem from the Middle Ages with arrival of the Roma in Europe. In an age of relative racial homogeneity, the Roma appeared as a foreign, outsider race whose dark countenance was associated with evil in a time of church hegemony and bigotry. The associations forged with the Roma during their early arrival were compounded by subsequent centuries of persecution and hatred, often based on conceptions of ‘the Gypsy other’ rather than interactions.Continue Reading

BEING BISEXUAL AND GENDERQUEER IN A ‘HETEROSEXUAL’ AND ‘CISGENDERED’ RELATIONSHIP

by Chris Jarvis

In one form or another, I have been ‘out’ for about eight or nine years. Obviously the concept of being ‘out’ is far more nuanced than a simple one stage event, act or process. The reality is of course much, much more complicated. Each time you meet a new person, each time you move to a new town, each time you start a new job that process has to start again, from the beginning.

Coming out is never an enjoyable experience for me, no matter how many times I have to do it. Throughout my life, there have been few things that have terrified me more than coming out to new people. I am not yet actively or consciously come out to my parents, despite now being 23. So much of the time it seems much easier to sit in silence and not rock the boat rather being upfront with the truth, even if that truth forms an important, albeit not defining, part of my identity. Why would I choose to risk potential isolation and victimisation when things could sit so much more comfortably in ignorance?Continue Reading

THE HORRORS OF HORROR

by Alex Valente

In the beginning, there were giant evil gods. Then we arrived, and started telling stories of things that go bump in the dark, of what lies between the cracks, of what lurks under the bed. Fears began to take shapes, looking more like tales of caution and of danger. They took the shape of bogeymen and chainsaw wielding killers, nightmare creatures and monsters from the deep. Afraid of sexuality? Vampires, werefolk and secluded cabins will tell you not to. Alcohol and drugs also covered. Religious terrors? We have possessions, exorcists, ghosts and devils aplenty. Coulrophobia, arachnophobia, nyctophobia? Here’s a clown-looking spider that waits for you at night.

Whatever new things we discover scare us, we create a monster for them. We try to impose order, and keep it under control. We give it a recognisable, if unsettling and still scary, frame. Then, at some point, we pushed too far.Continue Reading

LET US SIT AND TELL SAD STORIES: CREATIVE WRITING STUDENTS AND THE NEED FOR OPTIMISM

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by Jake Reynolds

Trigger warnings for mentions of rape, assault, substance abuse, violence.

When I tell people that I have recently moved into a house in which my bedroom window looks out onto a graveyard, I get one of two reactions. The first is a wince. ‘That sounds bleak.’ The second is a strange, slightly glazed and dreamy look. ‘Wow. Think of all the writing you’ll get done. That’ll be so inspirational.’

When I joined UEA as an English Literature with Creative Writing undergraduate in 2013, the prospect of my bedroom window allowing me to peek in over a graveyard was quite a dismal thought. As I prepare to enter my final year, nothing has changed. Yet being a creative writing student, there is an assumption that being so close to death in such a striking and obvious way can be nothing but a gift for what is, presumably, my twisted and morose mind.Continue Reading