Roma heritage in Hungary
Belonging to a minority group myself, I’ve came across the following experience: I travelled abroad for work and met a group of people with various nationalities. At a certain point of our program, I shared my Jewish background with them. Later, some people came to me and shared their positive associations or perceptions they had about my minority group. On one hand it made me feel good, on the other hand another thought started to arise: what if they had negative ones. They would obviously not approach me, but would it have an impact on how they see me?
When it comes to being a Roma person, in most cases you don’t even have to speak about it, because is visible from the outside (with a few exceptions). And you do not need to guess about the nature of the stereotypes, because it is very rarely an affirming one.
What are the first words that come to your mind when you hear the word Roma people (1) or Roma cultural heritage (2)?
My associations for the first are vulnerability, poverty, violence and there are lots of news related to these topics in the media, every day. However, when it comes to Roma cultural heritage, I could mainly associate to one particular thing: their love and talent for music. Thought it has media coverage, too, there are hardly any other representation of their heritage coming from the media.
Due to the Rebelah project we will explore the Roma cultural heritage with Roma and non- Roma participants. We will implement a helicopter view: first we reflect on the various different cultural groups we belong to at the same time, and understand how these interact and impact us (e.g. being a woman, being young or being part of a social class). Then we focus on Roma and Hungarian heritage to understand how they shape us through values, attitudes and rituals. Beyond having a deeper understanding of our heritage, we will eventually explore how it can contribute to a better acceptance and self-acceptance, better communication and conflict management within our communities.