For most people explaining that they’re are not Romanian is a fairly straightforward business. If you are unsure whether or not someone you know is Romanian just ask them this simple question – Where they born in Romania? No. Still not sure – Was anyone in their direct family born in Romania? No. Congratulation they’re not Romanian. Like wise if the answer(s) to the above question(s) was yes than congratulations they’re Romanian. Not an altogether difficult line of enquiry yet it seems to be one that I come across with far to frequent an occurrence. The problem arises when my ethnicity is mentioned, I am Romany, Romani, Rromani etc. many different spellings but never one that ends in -an.
On second thoughts forget about everything I have just said, this is not something I personally experience very often in fact it happened for the first time in October, you can read a post I published about it here. I believe, and indeed hope, that most people in the UK understand what I mean by Romany, this is not a theory I have necessarily put to the test but it is how thing are in my observations but you never know maybe people just think I’m Romanian. But nevertheless it is something that I often read about, especially on American blogs, with ‘Gypsies’ in America being seen by the general publish as A) travelling criminals or B) magical creatures that live perfect lives, it can be very difficult for my American friends to explain their ethnicity, culture and language.
A frustrating situation I am sure you can all agree, but is it harmful? I believe it is, for not only are people denying Romani ethnicity, culture and language, whether by pure accident and ignorant, or due to political agenda but it also deepens the feeling that Romanies do not truly belonging to any geographical location and leaves us open to attack. As long as the Romani people are not considered ‘part’ of a national society we will continue to be sidelined and blamed for the ill-fortunate of nations. Now this isn’t the time or the place for discussing the puerile idiotism of blaming immigrants for all and sundry, and I leave the discussion of European Roma/Romani to those who know the topic more intimately than I.
But the Romany of the United Kingdom are not immigrants. The first (UK) Egyptian Act was passed in 1530, 482(3) years ago during the reign of King Henry VIII, four years before the Reformation. We are just as integral.
I am not a Romanian, I am a proud British Romany.