I thought this exchange between a Romani author and the producers of the US show was quite illuminating.
However, a show like this can harm a group of people already under scrutiny, people who also have families to watch over. Being a Romani isn’t a way of life or a cult. We aren’t Gypsy by choice or calling. No one can decide to become a Gypsy one day. We are a race of close to 10 million, with a culture that spans centuries and across continents. It is one thing to present a willing group of people in a negative light, but quite another to represent an entire race of people as a niche stereotype. This is particularly dangerous since people know so little about us and yet think they know so much.
The Romani always remember their roots, but that doesn’t mean they don’t break out and try to find bigger ways to express who they are. THIS diversity is who we are. Although some Romani live more traditionally, there’s an overwhelming number who have accomplished great things while still holding on to their identity. These people make up the majority of Romani, but are rarely talked about. Maybe if they’re shown, their stories told, the audience can relate in more profound ways than ever.
Oksana Marafioti is the author of American Gypsy: A Memoir, which I now want to read.