“The entire public image of Roma is based on misconceptions,” Roland Ferkovics, Co-Manager and Project Officer of our Roma Civil Monitor project said in an interview with Times Higher Education.
In the interview he talked about his childhood, how his identity has been shaped, and his studies. “The main reasons that I wanted to be an advocate are injustice and the discrimination that I have faced,” he said.
“Roma is not a social category. Roma is not an economic category. Roma is not a way of behavior. Roma people are human beings, citizens, belonging to an ethnic minority or nationality. Roma advocates, communities and also pro-Roma and other stakeholders are fighting to challenge the frames that are limiting Roma,” he argued.
“If I observe the tendencies all over Europe, such as the strengthening of nationalism, illiberalism, populism and the radical right, then I am concerned. Racism, antisemitism and anti-gypsyism are getting more popular,” he continued.
”Challenges or even rights violations of Roma are not considered as a common issue that needs an urgent and professional reaction, but rather perceived as a problem of “theirs” that has no effect on the society in general. However, such an approach is completely wrong as we are living in the same society, sharing the same rights and obligations,” he said, adding that “on the other hand, there are examples of Roma and non-Roma communities cooperating, reaching goals together and jointly implementing new programs. Grass-roots efforts can be a driving force for Roma inclusion and challenge the public discourse about Roma communities.”
Read the full interview here.