Why I don't use the G-word

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.

Other Resources

Comment below if you already nixed the G-word from your dictionary, or if will no longer be using it!

Curious about what else may not be appropriate? Check out my post on smudging.


  • Dana Marie

    You were actually the one who first brought this up to me when that word was in something I reblogged on Tumblr, and I was really glad that you were so kind about it because like you said, I was totally shocked and embarrassed that I had probably used that word other times in my life without knowing! It’s seen so many places in our society, and I’ve noticed and heard it ever since the Hunchback of Notre Dame movie came out when I was little – every little girl wanted to be just like Esmerelda! It’s really important that we keep talking about this, because I’m positive that most people using that term realizes the harm it causes – they’re just repeating what they’ve heard in other places without realizing the history behind it.

    • shelbymelissa

      Thank you for sharing how you felt when I told you. <3
      I'm positive that most people don't know it either! It is definitely wrapped up in a lot of privilege and oppression which can be hard to see at times for those who are privileged. And hard to hear those who are oppressed trying to speak out.
      So, basically, I definitely agree! And the more reason to let them know.

  • Elyssa

    Actually, none of the European I know never mentionned it being a slur, the only one I saw it being called that way was from people in the US. Here, in France, I know it has been used by a popular group band, or that there is still this positive dreamy-free spirit words associated with it. To be honest, it is almost never used,….while Romani is more of a negative term, and used more often.

    • shelbymelissa

      Thank you for sharing! It is good to have the perspective of someone not from the states!
      It might be more recognized in Western Europe then? I think one of the articles specifically mentioned Western Europe.
      From my understanding it is a slur, as Romani people themselves have stated. It could be that Romani is seen negatively because of the negative stereotypes attached to the people or ethnic group, even if it isn’t an ethnic slur.

  • Michaela

    I seen conversations with Romani people who are absolutely adamant that it’s a slur and some who are pretty “meh” about the whole thing and don’t care if others use it for fashion or whatnot. That being said, that fact that ANY member of the Romani culture or ethnicity is hurt by its use, both current and historical, is enough for me to completely nix it from my lexicon and to try to educate others that I see use it so freely.

    • shelbymelissa

      Very true! A group of people will have varying thoughts and beliefs about things, this is no different. But I also agree that since people have come forward saying that this word is a slur and it hurts them, it is a word I choose to not use as a result.

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