Thursday, February 21, 2013

Romani in Europe

Nate here....

Our Nellie (Anelya; the Nellster - pronounced "the Nellstah") is Romani.

I knew very little of the Romani (also known as "Roma" or "Gypsies") and have been studying up on them, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Multicultural Film Festival at our local university featured a film on the integration of a group of Romani students into a Romanian school.

The movie, Our School, was engaging and thought provoking. It did an excellent job of letting viewers get close to the Romani children, and didn't simply demonize the Romanian teachers and officials, despite the fact that they were acting pretty ugly.

The biggest take away for me was that we are all like the fish that don't see the water they swim in. The Romanians thought they were being kind to the Romani and not racist at all, but to an outsider it was obvious   that they were. During the filming the EU ruled that "separate but equal" schools for the Romani were illegal (very Brown v. Board of Education - just decades later and in Europe), which made this institutionalized racism even more apparent.

The director was there and answered questions about growing up in Romania and not realizing that this discrimination was going on.  If you can find it definitely watch it, and if nothing else check out this clip.

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