Hozier & Hot Press need to issue an apology for the use of a racial slur in tribute video

Hozier & Hot Press need to issue an apology for the use of a racial slur in tribute video

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Basil Green started this petition to Hozier and

Recently Hot Press Magazine released a series of Van Morrison covers to pay tribute to the Irish singer for his 75th birthday. Hot Press Magazine is Dublin-based music and politics magazine, and Hozier is an Irish singer.

Hozier covered 'Caravan' which contains the slur g*psy which is a derogatory term used against Romani people.

This is highly insensitive and harmful, racial slurs should not be said, and definitely not broadcasted to a large audience. Hot Press's YouTube channel receives thousands of views on many of their videos and their Instagram has a moderate following, and Hozier has a large fan base with more than 1m followers. The video itself has 34k views.

This means a large number of people have been exposed to multiple instances of this slur in a context that offers it up as innocent and not racist or wrong. This slur is harmful towards Romani people as it is used against them with aggressive intentions by racists and bullies, and it also tells non Romani people that using this word isn't wrong and perfectly innocuous and in this case artistic or acceptable.

It does not matter what the song is about, or that this specific word has other meanings outside of being a racist slur, the fact that this racist language was allowed to be uploaded to a platform without anyone criticising this choice shows that something went very wrong. It is disappointing and appalling that no one in the process between choosing this song, recording it and uploading it ever thought that it would be inappropriate to use a racial slur. 

There are many other songs that could've been performed at the very least the slur itself could have been replaced or censored. 

This dismaying incident is especially shocking as Hozier has a history of activism and he has consistently shown his support for marginalised groups of people. 

This slur comes from Europeans assuming Romani come from Egypt when they are really from Northern India. Romani communities all over Europe have experienced violent persecution and hostility from European countries for centuries. Their existence is haunted by the Porajmos, the genocide against them during WW2 where 300-500 thousand people were killed, and there has been a long history of Romani people being victimised by slavery, hate crimes, and detrimental legislation. Many European countries continue to have discriminatory and dangerous laws that hurt Romani communities, and people continue to attack them and discriminate against them.

Their history and persecution is also barely ever discussed in media and daily life, or even written in text books, and Romani people have been caricatured and stereotyped in films, books and music relentlessly. The representation of Romani people as theives and criminals leads to discrimination and violence against them, and the fetishization and sexualisation of Romani women creates incredibly dangerous situations for Romani women that put them more at risk of assault, rape and even human trafficking. What's worse about all of this is that even though this group of people have endured centuries of violence and oppression, much of this is unknown to the majority of the public, and there is very little recognition for the disgusting treatment governments, communities and individuals have inflicted onto the many Romani communities across the world.

Non Romani people might think the g slur is a harmless label for free spirited adventurers or a genuine label for the Romani people or that it is an appropriate word for Irish Travellers. But Romani people hear these words coming from a place of hate and malice, and it is degrading and humiliating as the wider public see no issue with associating Romani people with a slur that characterises them as criminal and dangerous, when it is their communities that live in fear of violence and injustice. 

Apart from the inherent and immense harm caused by the use of this particular slur, it is also abhorrent to use any slur, racial or otherwise, and should not be tolerated or let off with a free pass just because someone didn't know the word is a slur, especially when thousands of people might hear you. It is important for platforms and voices like Hot Press and Hozier to try and cultivate safe and kind environments where no one can hear or see words that are weaponized against them and are used to attack their ethnicity and culture.

This incident is very disappointing and the fact that the use of this word flew under the radar shows that not only racism is still very prevalent in our culture even in seemingly benign forms like singing an old song that contains an offensive word, but that there is a serious and extremely distressing culture of anti-Romani attitudes in Europe which is unacknowledged and hidden, spawning from a history of invalidating Romani voices through violence and censorship, and obscuring the injustices done against them by European countries. This colossally apathetic dismissal of Romani trauma and their brutal persecution is only made worse by the casual and mindless use of a slur in everyday conversation by the very people who's ancestors, government, family or even they themselves that are the source of terror and pain for a lot of Romani people, even if they don't think the word is a slur. 

In the same way it wouldn't be uncommon for trans people who have been murdered in a transphobic attack for the last words they ever hear being tr*nny, Romani people experience an incredible amount of violent hate crimes, and unfortunately many racist attacks may result in death, and it's entirely possible the last words certain Romani people hear before being brutally murdered is the g word. This word isn't just a racist insult with an uncomfortable etymology, it is nearly always paired with violence and hatred, and the intent to harm and terrify, and it is an abhorrent slur that's been used along side flame wielding mobs, gas chambers and terrorism to traumatize and decimate Romani communities.

An apology should be issued by both Hozier and the people at Hot Press for this disheartening affair. All of the people a part of this video from Hozier himself to his management team and the people working at Hot Press have done not only a huge disservice to anyone who has seen the video and unfortunately had to hear that word, but also to themselves. This incident suggests that not a single person in the process between the choosing of this song, recording it and uploading it realised it was a racial slur that has been used to dehumanize and antagonize Romani communities for centuries because they have the privilege of not being aware of the immense historical and social significance and hazard that comes with the slur, or that some people did understand it is a slur yet neglected to interfere because racism against Romani people is just so ingrained in western culture and some people associate the g word with the image of a carefree bohemian caricature or they just didn't see the problem with letting an influential artist repeat a racial slur in a video that is bound to reach thousands of people around the globe. Either way there is a tremendous amount of harm that will be caused by this incident. Any Romani people who follow Hozier or Hot Press Magazine should not have had to hear this word, and everyone else should not have been given the impression that Hozier and Hot Press condone the use of racist language and that the use of this particular slur or any other is ever appropriate. 

Here are articles about the damaging use of the slur by Romani writers if you wanted to learn more.

https://now.org/blog/the-g-word-isnt-for-you-how-gypsy-erases-romani-women/

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/gypsy-slur-netlflix

https://www.brut.media/us/news/racist-origins-of-gypsy--0d0a3396-b7a2-469b-8d89-42652a72c487

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