Look. Sometimes there are words that mean more than we think they mean. Or they enter popular culture and they change, gaining meanings and stereotypes. Gypsy is one of those words.
Why I don’t use the G-word.
What do you think the G-word is? Take a moment to think about it.
What do you think it is? If you guessed Gypsy, you would be right.
Many of us in the United States may hear the word and think free spirit, fortune teller, magical. Those in and around Europe may know it different because of the cultural and legal differences. For those of us in the US, may not know that it is a slur used in the personal discrimination and systematic oppression of people who identify and belong to the Romani ethnicity. I certainly did not know. At least until I saw someone talk about the use of the G-word on their blog.
The first time I heard the G-word identified as a racial/ethnic slur was probably about a two or three years ago. I was astonished and embarrassed that I had been using such a hurtful and discriminatory word. And I wanted to hide the fact that I had ever thought of the word as anything different. I certainly didn’t identify as a racist, in fact, I thought of myself as pretty welcoming and certainly not as someone who would say something so rude. My ego was attempting to defend itself. Upon reflection, I knew I needed to own my change of heart and my new knowledge. I hope that if you are using the g-word, that you too will make the change.
If you are not sure about this word, I implore you to please read the following blog posts by people identifying and belonging to the Romani ethnicity. And please be mindful that many of the following authors are upset, and rightfully so, so don’t be surprised if they take a harsh tone.