Roma kids
So that other thread got me thinking and googling. I only knew peripherally about this subject (discrimination against roma people) and I am shocked. Really.
This is one of the articles I read.

[url=,0,6288054.story?page=1]Gypsy, Roma, Romania: Tale of 2 sisters shows an evolving Gypsy culture -[/url]

One thing that surprises me about this particular article is that the family pictured looks to me like a regular white family. I guess it's the language, culture as much or more than "looking different" that sets these people apart?
Can I get your thoughts and experiences on this subject, especially people who adopted Roma children?

And also, remind me not to visit these places which are not known for being horrible and racist but obviously are, right down to organized racism in their governments.
(Here I've been to Greece and loved it and have been wanting to go to Dubrovnik for quite a while because it looks like such a beautiful place. There is obviously a lot of ugliness there as well. Not that there isn't anywhere else mind you... but this racism seems just so accepted by the general public and those in charge. I thought that as a world we had moved beyond some of this sort of thing.)
I recently read an article in The Week about how people of Roma ethnicity are treated atrociously in France and many other areas of the European Union. It was shocking...and sad.
Goodness, that was heartbreaking...
Well, for Romania, they are pretty light, but it isn't unheard of at all. Like I said elsewhere, my daughter looks about like that, hard to say from the photo, but under her clothes she's more tan and she doesn't get all pasty in the winter like I do. I'm sure if you put those kids next to some white white Europeans you could tell and that is where the societal tensions come in. People can tell. I mean how do different ethnic groups in Africa tell who belongs to which group? I lived in Zimbabwe for awhile and after a few months even I could tell who was Shona and who wasn't in a glance (and I'm legally blind :D ) and they're all just Africans to most white people. With my daughter, you don't really notice when you're just around her. Then, I see Czech children and they look all sickly and pale even to me. Roma appear in quite a range. I have seen a group of very dark Roma in Kosovo that had brilliantly blue eyes. I'm sure some of it comes from the wide geographical spread of the group. Intermarriage was taboo until very recently but it still happened, as well as less ahem... organized things. And some Roma have simply been very far north for nearly a thousand years and the sun starts wearing off. Central Europe is up north with Canada, not on the level of the US. All Hungarians used to be the color of Turks. Germans supposedly come from India, just a bit further back. Certainly, Roma who are lighter face less daily discrimination but it still happens through language, culture, one's address, last names and so forth. This is Eastern Europe. Remember how the Serbs and the Croats went to war and it is absolutely impossible to tell them apart? They speak exactly the same. They only write in different alphabets and go to different churches.

From my experience as a journalist in Romani communities that article was pretty accurate. Romani distrust of the education systems of the majority cultures they live in compounds the problems of discrimination. I am concerned as much about the self-esteem impact of negative media images coupled with rejection of adopted children by the Romani community, as I am about the Jim Crow of Czech society. All the negative media messages are one thing when a child knows the community but if that community rejects the child, it is hard to counteract the negative messages.

The Romani community has historically made contact with non-Romani people taboo as a means of self-defense. It has worked. Most cultures exposed to centuries of expulsion, slavery, forced separation of families, linguistic bans, outright murder and so forth, most eventually succumb and become assimilated, especially if they do not look wildly different. The Roma have retained their culture and language largely because of their taboos, but the modern-day shadows of those historical taboos also make it very difficult for Romani people, who for diverse reasons have been separated from the community, to regain their culture and language.
Is there?
Any way for people in the US to adopt these kids? Any agencies that you know of?
I am currently in the process of adopting from Bulgaria and have requested a Roma child. They tend to be negative towards Roma and most of the children up for adoption are either sn or Roma. Non-Roma Bulgarians do not want to adopt a Roma child. I do read the Sofia Echo (online Bulgarian news in English). Some of the comments that are made about Roma are shocking. There was one article this fall about an increase of Roma school children in one school...over twice the number of non-Roma children's parents pulled them out of the school b/c the school would not segregate the children. Needless to say I was totally schocked!
I have heard the Roma are originally of Indian descent. You can see that influence in their clothes. I have attached a link for a Romani dance group.

[url=]Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month: Romani Rad[/url]

The link is for Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month and though mainly about the history of the Roma in the UK, it looks like it has a lot of information about Roma from all over Eastern Europe as well.

I am just going to go and read the rest of it Smile
I wish I could remember where I read it, but I though it was France that just passed a law to deport all Roma. Maybe it wasn't France (but it was definitely a nation I thought of as being progressive at least), but it shocked the heck out of me. Straight up out and out, in your face state-sanctioned racism. I had heard for years that Roma people and their children were treated terribly in certain countries, or by certain pockets of communities, but a country just outright deporting them, THAT really hit me square between the eyes. Unhappy
Yes, it was France at the end of August. Here is an article about it:

France's expulsion of Roma was due to begin on Thursday with 79 expected to fly out of the country. The European Commission says it's following very closely France's controversial dealings with the gypsies.

Thursday marked the beginning of France's controversial move to expel around 700 Roma to Romania and Bulgaria.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to clamp down on the Roma last month, following a series of clashes between gypsies and the police in two French cities. The government has ordered the destruction of 300 Roma settlements - so far more than 50 camps have been broken up.

Mark Lattimer is executive director of London-based Minority Rights Group International. He says the move by the French government bodes badly for minorities across Europe.

"They are specifically targeted at one ethnic group - Europe's most disadvantaged, the Roma - and at the same time they are accompanied by a rhetoric that clearly plays into the hands of xenophobic far-right groups in society," said Lattimer.

France is part of the European Union which allows freedom of movement across national borders.

The European Commission says it is following the situation "very closely" but the French foreign ministry says expelling the Roma is fully in-line with European rules.

Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told the French news agency Agence-France Presse that the European law allows governments to restrict freedom of movement within the bloc if it's a question of public order, security, or health.

But Lattimer says the expulsion of the Roma breaks EU laws on discrimination.

"What they haven't taken account of is the fact that there is a duty not to discriminate by ethnicity," added Lattimer. "And I think it is quite arguable that there is an illegal animus - ie. That there is prima facie ground of discrimination in their action."

Romania's foreign minister says he is worried that the economic recession is creating "populism and xenophobic reactions".

Lattimer says that's not just the case in France, but also across Europe.

"In all European societies there has long been the danger of racism and xenophobia rising again. Of course in Europe we have a long history of attacks on minorities, most notably during the holocaust," said Lattimer. "But in recent years the situation has been much better but there is always the danger that racism will rise again."

Dozens of Roma began flying out of France Thursday with more to follow Friday and next week. The French Interior Ministry says each expulsion has been decided on a case-by-case basis.

There are around 15,000 Roma living in France.
This is an article I found.

[url=]BBC News - Q&A: France Roma expulsions[/url]

I'm not really sure I understand how things work in the EU as far as members of other countries moving to another EU nation. This article touches on it, but I really don't get it.

The article makes it seem like France is getting rid of illegal camps, not expulsing (is that even a word?) all of the Romas. FWIW I'm not saying I think what the French govt is doing with the Roma population is ok (I actually don't think I know enough about the situation to feel one way or the other), I'm just pointing out that it doesn't sound like they're rounding up EVERY Roma in the country and sending them out. It sounds similar to what's done sometimes in the US when a city/state/federal govt agency will raid an area and round up illegal immigrants and deport them. I don't know that I buy that either situation is done purely to stop some illegal behavior though...I think racism is a huge factor.
My son is Roma, so I have been reading a lot about them. From what I have read, the big problem that the governments have with them is that they do not accept any governments and do not beleive that they have authority over them. So thier beleif is that the law of the tribe is the only law that governs them. (not all Roma are the same, they are divided into loose tribes and each tribe has it's own leader and rules)
When I was adopting my son, I was told to pretend I did not notice his skin color. Here in Texas he passes for Mexican. My niece is half Mexican and everyone says they can tell she and my son are cousins cause they look so much alike. They both think it's funny. On the flight home I sat next to a Jewish man who had gone back to Poland to visit relatives. He described to me the way that the Jews are still treated there and said that it was worse for the "gypsy's" according to his relatives. I do know from my reading that many of the governments were trying to get the Roma to settle down somewhere, and choose one country to live in, instead of roaming all over Europe and Easter Europe like they have always done. They also want them to get documentation, which the Roma people prefer not to do. They like thier privacy and freedom.
usisarah said...
This is an article I found.

[url=]BBC News - Q&A: France Roma expulsions[/url]

I'm not really sure I understand how things work in the EU as far as members of other countries moving to another EU nation. This article touches on it, but I really don't get it.

The article makes it seem like France is getting rid of illegal camps, not expulsing (is that even a word?) all of the Romas. FWIW I'm not saying I think what the French govt is doing with the Roma population is ok (I actually don't think I know enough about the situation to feel one way or the other), I'm just pointing out that it doesn't sound like they're rounding up EVERY Roma in the country and sending them out. It sounds similar to what's done sometimes in the US when a city/state/federal govt agency will raid an area and round up illegal immigrants and deport them. I don't know that I buy that either situation is done purely to stop some illegal behavior though...I think racism is a huge factor.

I see what you mean. The article says there are actually about 400,000 Roma in France but they are talking about the 12,000 from Romania/Bulgaria who have work restrictions (from 2014, those restrictions will be lifted after those 2 countries have been in the EU for 7 years). I agree with Sarah though that racism is quite likely a huge factor and it is definitely an overreaction. Even some members of Sarkozy's own party disagree with him.
Hi all, this is long, so I have included some bold, so you can read the parts that you asked about specifically.

OK, the France thing... The French government said they were getting rid of illegal camps of migrants from all kinds of places, some illegal immigrants. But a confidential memo (later leaked) was sent to the local counties directing them to get rid of camps but primarily any Romani camps. The Roma were paradoxically not really illegal migrants. They were from Romania, which is in the EU, and technically they could travel to France. They were there to find work, but it is hard for anyone to find work when they don't have a place to live or education or the language, so they ended up living in these squatter camps. There has been a lot of media noise around it but the key part that is so often lost in the shuffle was that memo. That is why the European Commission is crying "discrimination" because they were going after particularly Romani camps, not just all illegal camps. Western Europe is MUCH better in terms of the day to day discrimination and harassment on the street but there are still anti-Romani attitudes. In Western Europe it is much more like social attitudes toward Black people in the US. Sure, you don't get verbally attacked and spit on every time you walk down the street, but if the police want to have a "clean up crime" spree, they're going to a Black neighborhood, guaranteed.

I can't help commenting on the clan system and nomadism things brought up on this thread. Yes, Roma originated in Inida centuries ago. The slowly moved west, first appearing in central Europe around 1300. There are various historical theories about why they moved (hired as musicians en mass by Alexander the Great or forced to leave after their clan lost a battle in Northern India). In any case, they kept getting kicked out of every place they came to. In Europe the various nations generally DID NOT allow them to settle for many centuries, or if they did they tried to get them to settle ELSEWHERE.Smile In those areas where Roma were permitted to settle, they generally have been living a non-nomadic life for centuries and are much more integrated. I experienced these communities in Macedonia and Kosovo as a journalist. They said they were shocked when they learned how hard Roma have it elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Very recently (within the last 100 years) some governments did attempt to settle Romani populations forcibly, but this was along the lines of Native Americans forced into reservations - generally they were forced into terrible housing far from other settlements with no hope of employment or families were split up and forced to settle separately. Those policies led to lots of problems. In the Czech Republic proper there were only 600 Roma left after the Holocaust. They had been almost entirely wiped out. So the Communist government brought in young people from impoverished Romani settlements in Slovakia for unskilled labor in the post-war years. That's where most today's "Czech Roma" come from. Many of these young people were forcibly taken from their families and they were cut off from their cultural and family support systems, which are absolutely crucial to Romani identity. This resulted in a breakdown of family, clan and cultural structures that had made the Roma relatively successful up until then. (Even the unsettled groups had employment, covering much of the entertainment, horse trading and metal working markets.)

This situation is part of what has led to so many Romani children ending up in orphanages here. The family structures have never really recovered in this country. In areas where Romani cultural structues are more intact there are far fewer children in orphanages and virtually no abandoned elderly or sick people. Romani culture is very strong in taking care of all members of the group. It really varies depending on what the particular group has gone through historically.

As far as I understand, like many Indo-European cultures, the Romani culture was traditionally based in a clan and to some extent a profession-based cast system, but there is drastic variation today in whether or not a particular group follows the old traditions or has any real connection with a clan anymore. Some are quite traditional. Some simply speak Romanes, remember some old songs and have little else of the old ways.

As for adopting Romani children, I don't think it is common to adopt Romani children to the US from the Czech Republic. Most Romani children adopted abroad from this country go to the Netherlands and Denmark. I don't know that it is impossible to the US but it isn't common. US adoptions of Romani children are often from Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and even Kazakhstan. Roma are spread over a wide area. I don't know the agencies at all because our adoption was domestic, even though I am an immigrant here.
Thanks for that info. In your experience, are the Romani people that are no longer nomadic and are integrated into their country's society more...are these people discriminated against less than Romani people that are nomadic? Or is it a case of pretty much anywhere you go if you look Roma you are suspect?

I read up on some articles about Romani children in orphanages that made my skin crawl. International adoptions from Romania are closed now. I found one article that implied that the Romanian govt was pretty much embarrassed (sp?) by the international outcry on how Romani children in orphanages are treated there, so they closed their program to other countries.

By the way, you guys should really check out Grumbler's blog. It's really good.
In my experience, which is really only anecdotal on this point those places where the Roma have been settled historically were generally better. The primary example I have extensive experience with was Kosovo. What happened was that before the war there, there were Serb, Albanian and Romani communities scattered around the place. Roma who I came to know quite well there told me that they did not feel like there was discrimination before the 1999 war. There may have been some hidden discrimination or glass ceilings but these were working class folks who had jobs in the same factories and mines with the Serbs and Albanians and they weren't aware of the subtler issues. Then, there was the big conflict between the Serbs and Albanians. Each side started accusing the Roma of collaborating with the other side. They tried to stay out of it but they ended up getting clobbered by both sides and were forced to flee the country. Most, I think about 100,000, left and were in refugee camps for upwards of 5 years. That's how I met them as a journalist but, before the war, Kosovo had some of the most prosperous Romani communities in Europe. Macedonia is a bit similar to the way Kosovo was. The Romani community there is stable and settled long term. There are tensions with other ethnic groups but there are a lot of diverse groups in that country and they aren't some primary hated group, as they are elsewhere.
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