Sunday, December 14, 2008

The difference between Gypsy as a Cultural Expression & Gypsy as a gimmick

What happens when there is a culture, who is as far behind being recognized as the Romani are, it leaves a wide open door for opportunist who have tried and failed to make a name for themselved in either their own culture or own profession that is already saturated with thousands of other who have all done the same
thing. The internet is a wonderful example of what is happening with
people, all jockeying for top position. The Gypsy culture or Gypsy "idea then becomes a gimmick for them and because of the lack of good information, and lack of policing by its own members. People using "Gypsy" as a theme or gimmick do not have to be accurate they can just make stuff up. They couldn't do the same thing with African Americans or Native Americans becase there is way too much information and organizations policing this sort of thing. In the absense of a solid presense, and real information, we become targets in a whole new way then we have been used to.

A prime example of how little information there is; if you google sinti and roma or
sinti or gypsy, my blogs, websites, photos etc come up in the first page.
Is this because I am a web marketing genius?? No, It is because there is
such little information out there. Another interesting example is that I am
the only person I know now on the internet, who makes the Romani Chakra
Wheel Pendants. I started this to raise money for the Scholarship and NRADO
because when I tried to find one for myself, I was suprised that no one
offered one that I could buy. The same thing applies to my cookbook. Do
you know there is only 5 (published) Gypsy Cookbooks in the world, (only 4
were printed) and the only one still on print (that was backed by a larger
publishing company), was written by a Gadje woman and from what I could see,
was full of cliches and quotes pulled from the available and common sources
on the internet. That shows you that WE rignt now, can be the pioneers!
That is so exciting if you think about it. But it is so so so important
that we empower our own people to be the ones to offer Romani Art, Romani
Music, Romani Jewelry, Romani clothes, etc etc and NOT let non Romani
opportunists steal this from us. Now, I am not implying that no Gadje cant
be a sympathizer and does not have positive and useful things to offer
because I know there are several well respected Gadje who have already proven diffrently and are an exception I believe. All cultures use their culture as inspiration and as a theme to their craft and have the right to market it as such. What makes Gypsy a GIMMICK is when this is done by outsiders who are only using the culture to self promote. Even if their intentions are good, this can still set us back.

I hate tostart sounding like my mother or grandmother, (perhaps that is the real
"Gypsy Curse" lol) but I have just begun to learn this as true, and am
focusing my efforts on building up the artists and craftsmen and writers in
my family and community. Because in this time, where everything has
already been done several times over, our people have all the opportunities
to be the pioneer. We are witnessing the rise of our people, and it should
be the Romani on the forfront of this movement.

Speaking of pioneers, if you didn't know, www.gypsytown.com is a new site
created by george eli. You can go there and sign up to be notified when it
launches. I spoke with him abot it on the phone last week and it is a
really exciting concept and we should all really support it! ~ Dani
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