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Gypsies Essay, Research Paper

Our history books are full of ethnic and religious groups who have been

mistreated. However, these books say very little, if anything at all about the

Gypsies. In this paper I am going to discuss a few of the many hardships and

prejudices that Gypsies have faced, and continue to face today.

Throughout time Gypsies have suffered ?disproportionately from poverty,

unemployment, interethnic violence, discrimination, illiteracy, and disease?

(Lewy 1). One may wonder exactly who these people are who seem to be the

targets of so much violence and hostility. Well, the Gypsies are an inclusive

group, they have their own language and they are nomadic, which means that

they travel around in clans, usually looking for work and pay. It is extremely

difficult to learn the origin of these people, because they have no written or oral

history. The number of Gypsies in the United States alone estimates to be

between one hundred thousand and one million, however their names still do not

appear in any census (Lewy 1).

Many of the hostilities that Gypsies have faced are due to the prejudices

that others have against them, simply because they are different. This is similar

to the way that African Americans were treated in America, on the fact that the

color of their skin is a different . In fact a 19th century French observer referred

to them as ?Europe?s negroes? ( ?A Gypsy Awakening? 1). Actually, African

Americans seem to be more well off, because over time they have established a

better way of life for themselves, and overcome many hardships and prejudices;

whereas the Gypsies remain as they have always been. These people can also

relate to another group, the Jews who were victims of the Holocaust; for they too

were victims of this horrible occurrence in history. But unlike many of the Jewish

families who were able get their life back on track, after the war, with help from

banks, and charities for victims of the Holocaust; Gypsies had very few assets,

and nobody was interested in their story ( ?A Gypsy Awakening? 3). Jewish

people actually tend to hold the Gypsies responsible for countless misdeeds and

crimes that occurred. The stereotype of this group is a universal fact. It can

also be seen in the English language ?to gyp is to swindle or cheat, a gypsy

moth is a parasite whose larvae feed on the foliage of trees, and a gypsy cab

driver is someone who picks up passengers without a proper taxi license?

(Lewy 3). The Gypsies are a strong group of people, and the majority of them

scrounge for every dollar they get, and every morsel of food they eat. Just

because their lifestyle is different and may not live up to the standards of others

does not put them out for public ridicule or prejudices.

?They are Europe?s most unwanted people? (Kim 1). Although the

Gypsies live in small shabby villages on the outside of town, their presence is

very much resented by the Eastern Europeans. The majority of Gypsies in these

parts, as well as others, are poor, and most can not read or write. Statistics

state that over 60 percent of Gypsies are unemployed and when economic

hardship arises, they are the first to be laid off. In many countries they are

denied basic human rights, such as, voting and holding public office, along with

many other social benefits (Lewy 6). All throughout Europe these people are to

often, and most unfairly stereotyped as beggars, thieves and swindlers

( ?Europe and its Roma (Gypsies)? 1).

Are the Gypsies looking for a better life? Are they looking for social

acceptance, the end of prejudices, and a way to overcome the many hardships

life has shown them? The answer is, yes. Recently over thirty-six Gypsies?

corpses were washed up along the shore of Montenegro. Probably more than

one-hundred drowned, when their boat sank. Where were they going? They

were being smuggled to Italy. Why? ?…they had hoped against odds to make a

new life? ( ?A Gypsy Awakening? 1).

Little is known about this band of nomadic people, because there is very

little history found on them. However one thing is for sure, they are people, and

like everybody else, are subject to fair treatment and basic human rights.

Throughout the world these people have been unfairly judged, ridiculed, and

overlooked in our history. Something needs to be done in the governments and

the attitudes of all humans to see that not only the Gypsies, but all people are

given a fair and equal opportunity to make a stable life for themselves.

472

? Europe and its Roma (Gypsies).? Christian Science Monitor 19 Aug. 1999: 1-2.

? A Gypsy Awakening.? Economist 11 Sept. 1999: 1-3.

Kim, Lucian. ? Kosovo Gypsies Caught Between Serbs, Albanians.?

Christian Science Monitor 23 June 1999: 1-3.

Lewy, Guenter. ? The Travail of the Gypsies.? National Interest 1999: 1-9.

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