I am a Gypsy.
There. I said it.
Probably doesn't seem like a big deal, does it? To write it down where anyone can read it. Bless you, relative anonymity of the internet!
But it is a big deal, at least it is to me. In my 33 years of shambling about in the world it is something I have only dared say to my nearest & most trusted in the last 3 or 4 years. Before that I had only ever told my husband, when he proposed (seemed like the time to tell, really), back when the millennium was all shiny & new.
I am a Gypsy. Specifically I am half Romanichal, half Gadje, meaning non-Gypsy. Poshrat, meaning half-blood. I was raised by my non-Gypsy mother, and taught to keep my ethnicity a secret. Back then schools still refused to teach Gypsy children, Gypsies were beaten up, victimised, persecuted & driven out of towns & villages.
So it was something to keep secret. And it stayed a secret. Frankly its a habit I find hard to break. Every time I speak about it, when I hear a neighbour or a co-worker blame local thefts or vandalism on 'gyppos', when the news fails to report the persecution of the Italian Roma, when someone I've known for many years calls Gypsies 'less than human'*, where I would have kept my mouth shut, now I'm speaking out. And every damn time I expect the earth to swallow me up (stupid irrational brain)
No doubt I'll be returning to this subject before long, striving to right wrongs in my own lumbering, awkward way. In the meantime, Chillies!
*These are just a few of the choicest examples from recent months. I wish I could say I made them up for illustrative purposes, but I didn't.