A community of one million people has been left out of the US’s belated national reckoning with racism. It’s time to change that. Last year brought a dramatic and belated national reckoning with racism in the United States. But with conversations focused on the major targets of American racism – African American, indigenous and Latino populations – many have overlooked discrimination against a much smaller minority in the US: American Roma. Many Romani people arrived in the US between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, amid a wave of immigration from southern and eastern Europe. The prominent Romani scholar, Ian Hancock, argues that many Romani Americans are descendants of Romania’s enslaved Romani people, who were freed in 1856. But there is evidence that Romani people had been in the US for centuries beforehand, with early records documenting Roma people being shipped to British plantations in Virginia in the 17th century, following a 1661 act of parliament permitting their deportation. Today, there are close to a million Romani people in the US, with the largest clusters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Seattle and Portland. The community continues to experience acute prejudice today, as it has done for decades. (…) Romani Americans have long been rated as having the lowest “social standing” among ethnic groups in the US. In two polls conducted in 1964 and 1989 on the social standing of ethnic groups in the United States, Americans rated Romani people, along with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, as having a lower social standing than a fabricated ethnic group, the “Wisians”. Clearly, centuries of racism against Roma in Europe have infected attitudes to transatlantic Roma immigrants and their American offspring. A 2020 study entitled ‘Romani Realities in the United States’, by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and Voice of Roma (an American non-profit organisation), documents widespread anti-Roma discrimination. Almost 80% of the 363 Romani Americans who took part in the study reported that Americans discriminate against people of Romani heritage. (…) Such racial slurs levelled at Romani Americans are common. Some 68% of those interviewed by the FXB Center said they had been called names that made them uncomfortable, listing 108 slurs including: “sweet-potato [N-word]”, “dirty gpsy”, “Chicken thieves! Where’s your crystal ball? Where’s your wagon?”, “Dirty blooded, half breed”, “gpsy scum vagabond”, “gpsy trash”, “monkey, dirty gpsy”, and “the g*psies are here; hide your kids”. The extent of everyday discrimination and anti-Roma hatred in the US is alarming.

via opendemocracy: Why is discrimination against American Roma ignored?