Stop calling gypsies Roma, or Romani - stop the confusion!

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Stop calling gypsies Roma, or Romani - stop the confusion!

This petition had 136 supporters

Vlad Cadar started this petition to Council of the European Union

We should stop calling gypsies Roma, or Romani, because this creates confusion and inconveniences for some groups of people, including the gypsies. Roma and Romani are both terms that are too similar to Romania and Romanians, to Romans (Ancient Rome) and to Rome (Italian “Roma” – the capital of Italy). As Wikipedia states at the beginning of the page describing “Romani” people: “Not to be confused with Romanians, an unrelated ethnic group and nation, nor with modern or ancient Romans, also unrelated.”

The confusion must stop because all sides are affected by it. Gypsies, on the one hand, because they originate from the northern region of the Indian subcontinent, and have their own language, culture, music and identity, none of which are related to Romania or the ancient Romans. Gypsies are a conservative group that wants to keep their traditions. They should be integrated in Europe, but not assimilated, and which should keep their identity, and not be confused with unrelated groups, like Romanians or Romans.

Romania and Romanians, on the other hand, are affected because the country’s name and identity is strongly connected to the Romans and the Roman invasion of Dacia completed by Emperor Trajan. Romanians take pride in their Roman ancestry, and their Latin language (which is a result of the Roman conquest of Dacia, and which stayed Latin despite being surrounded by non-Latin speaking countries, which are mostly Slavic). Even the Romanian national anthem contains phrases like “Now or never let us give proof to the world, That in these veins Roman blood still flows, That in our chest we hold a name with pride, Victorious in battle, the name of Trajan”. The name of the country itself is indeed derived from the Latin romanus, meaning "citizen of Rome". All this proves that Romanians take pride in their ancestry, and they don’t like being confused with unrelated groups of people.

Less common, but still important, other countries that have a strong Roman ancestry might not want to be confused about their or the gypsies origins, as one might think gypsies are of Roman origin because of the terms “Roma” and “Romani”.

Another reason why we should differentiate between different groups is because associating or confusing them with one another can create conflicts between them and the impression of discrimination. For example, confusing a gypsy with a Romanian might make the gypsy say he’s not Romanian, making it seem as if that person is embarrassed or offended to be called Romanian, which can cause conflicts between the two groups of people.

Europe is an amazing, culturally diverse continent. We should promote unity between nations and groups of people, but at the same time we should distinguish between different groups with different ancestries and cultures, and respect and appreciate each culture on its own. Many countries and groups of people with different cultures and customs is what makes Europe great and diverse. We should not lose any of the cultures and we should conserve each and every culture as it is, since each has its own beauty and contribution to the great European continent.

Solutions

One solution to this would be to keep the name “gypsy”. This might, though, have its own problems. One would be that the name “gypsy” was attributed to this group of people because they were mistaken with being Egyptians. This might not be a problem anymore, and also there is a clear distinction between “gypsy” and “Egyptian” (as opposed to Romani and Romanian which are almost the same). Another, bigger problem with this is that the term often has a negative connotation. If the term is found offensive some other alternatives can be found.

One of the alternatives can be a name derived from the regions in the north of the Indian subcontinent, where they originated from. The regions and their present day names are the states Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab.

Another alternative would be to simply call them “travellers”, as they are already called in some places due to the fact that they are traditionally a nomadic group.

Why?

Many of the reasons why we should stop calling gypsies “Roma” or “Romani” are stated in the first section of this petition, and as a Romanian living and studying in England, I can say from personal experience that the “Romani” people and Romanians are often confused. I was once asked by a British person if I speak Romani, and I answered that I don’t, I speak Romanian, and that person got a bit offended believing that I’m making fun of them. The confusion created in this case is a small scale problem, but it is an example of how relationships between people are affected if there is confusion between groups of people, especially in Europe, a continent, as mentioned before, with many cultures, each proud and each wanting to be distinguished and recognised. It’s like asking a British person if they’re from Brittany (region in France). That can obviously create conflict, not because being from Brittany is a bad thing, but because the British are proud people, who want to be recognised as being from Great Britain, and not from Brittany.

If we want a united and peaceful Europe, we need to appreciate, recognise and respect each culture and each group on its own, and then acceptance and understanding between nations will come. We need to be united, but still recognised as different cultures. One step towards achieving this is to stop calling gypsies “Roma” or “Romani”, this way avoiding untrue associations between Romanians and gypsies, and also avoiding confusion about the origin of gypsies (ie. Avoid creating the belief that they have Roman or Romanian ancestry).

Petition Closed

This petition had 136 supporters