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Impotriva prejudecatilor: personaje rome in literatura

Asemeni adolescentilor de oriunde, adolescentii romi sunt cand entuziasmati, cand melancolici; se indragostesc; sunt fani infocati ai unei echipe de fotbal, sau ai unor cantareti si actori. Dar traiesc anumite experiente care sunt radical diferite de cele ale adolescentilor care un sunt romi. Parcursul multor adolescenti romi este pana la urma definit de mai putin acces la educatia superioara, de stigmatizare si discriminare. De aceea, tinerii romi trebuie sa invete cum sa faca fata prejudecatilor si rasismului de care se lovesc in viata de zi cu zi, in special la scoala.

Adolescentii reactioneaza diferit in fata discriminarii, cateodata internalizand stigma, altadata avand un entuziasm scazut pentru scoala.Pentru a evita experiente umilitoare, unii adolescenti romi isi ascund identitatea etnica: “Timp de opt ani, in scoala primara si gimnaziala, am suferit foarte mult, pentru ca fiind sigura eleva roma, colegii mei nu ma suportau. Cred ca in ziua in care am primit coronita la sfarsitul anului, cum se obisnuia pe atunci, am fost cea mai trista fata din toata incaperea, pentru ca atunci cand am fost pe scena, nimeni nu m-a aplaudat. Din cauza asta, in anii de liceu, nu am spus nimanui ca sunt roma.”[1] Alti adolescenti aleg sa dezvolte prietenii si relatii in comunitatea roma. Altii, beneficiind de tabere de vara care au ca obiectiv dezvoltarea stimei de sine, trec peste rusine si devin mandri de etnia lor: “Sunt un copil rom si sunt mandru de asta! Ma inteleg foarte bine cu mama, cu tata si cu invatatoarea. Imi place sa am multi prieteni, si chiar am multi, un doar romi, ci si romani. Vorbesc frumos cu toata lumea, nu conteaza daca sunt ca mine, daca sunt romi sau romani”[2]. Alt adolescent a spus : « Mi-era rusine sa spun ca sunt rom, dar nu mai imi e. »[3] Dar sunt si tineri romi care nu fac fata acestor presiuni; devin deprimati, lipsesc de la ore, sau chiar renunta la scoala, atunci cand se confrunta cu atitudini negative ale colegilor si profesorilor.

In acelasi timp, comportamentele partinitoare sau discriminatorii trec adeseori neobservate intr-un sistem de educatie care nu include metode de educatie interculturala si drepturile omului in formarea profesorilor. Profesorii care participa la astfel de formari incep sa isi dea seama de modul in care ei insisi modeleaza motivatia sau apatia copiilor, prejudecatile sau respectul, curiozitatea sau dezinteresul fata de educatie. “Ii iubim, ii ajutam, dar la scoala, culoarea pielii incepe sa conteze; copii incep sa se separe, romii sunt marginalizati, nimeni nu vrea sa stea in banca cu ei.”[4]

Cercetarea arata ca tinerii romi au aspiratii si vise similare in ceea ce priveste educatia ca si colegii lor care nu sunt romi. Si totusi, discrepanta dintre aspiratiile lor in ceea ce priveste educatia si asteptarile realiste in ceea ce priveste cariera este puternic corelata cu experienta discriminarii si a altor greutati pe care le intampina[5].

Un pas important inspre reducerea prejudecatilor este introducerea in scoli a istoriei romilor si a altor minoritati din Romania. Noul program national adoptat de Ministerul Educatiei ar putea deveni un factor important de schimbare a stereotipurilor despre romi si ar putea sa le ofere adolescentilor un sentiment de apartenenta.

In afara de schimbari generale esentiale, atat copiii romi cat si ceilalti trebuie sa intalneasca personaje, idei si povesti rome – si acestea trebuie sa fie contemporane si palpitante, astfel incat sa le transmita dorinta de a reusi si mandria. Personajele rome ar avea puterea sa ii indrume pe adolescenti inspre diversitate si sa trezeasca curiozitatea asupra romilor. Astfel de personaje trebuie reprezentate in filme, desene anímate, carti etc, dar povestile ar putea de asemenea sa vorbeasca si despre oameni reali, care sunt iubiti de toata lumea si in special de adolescenti.

Acest post rezuma si include extrase din articolul “Izolati prin lipsa de alegeri: povestea adolescentilor romi’’, un articol semnat de Margareta Matache si David Mark, aparut in volumul Drepturile omului si adolescenta, editat de Jacqueline Bhabha, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

 

 

[1] Citat dintr-un interviu cu un adolescent inclus in Romani CRISS si UNICEF Romania ( 2011). Participarea, absentele si discriminarea romilor in Romania, Vanemonde

[2] Interviu cu un adolescent rom, participant la o tabara de vara, 2010.

[3] Interviu cu un adolescent rom, participant la o tabara de vara, 2010.

[4] Focus grup cu profesori, Bucuresti, 2010

[5] Jacqueline Bhabha et al., Reclaiming adolescence: a Roma rights perspective, Harvard Educational Review, 2017.

Striving against prejudice: Romani heroes in literature

Like teenagers anywhere, Roma teenagers in Romania alternate between being excited and melancholic; they fall in love; they are fans of various football teams, singers, and actors. But they have some experiences that differ dramatically from their non-Roma peers. Lesser access to higher education, stigmatization, and discrimination are all phenomena that affect and ultimately define the trajectories of many Romani teenagers. Hence, Romani youth have to learn how to cope with the biases and anti-Roma racism they meet everywhere in their everyday environments, particularly in the school system.

Different adolescents react in various ways to discrimination, from internalizing the stigma to lacking enthusiasm for school. To avoid humbling experiences, some Roma teenagers hide their ethnic identity: “For eight years in the primary and middle school I suffered a lot because, as I was the only Roma pupil there, the other children couldn’t stand me. The day I was handed the crown of flowers at the year-end awards ceremony, as was the custom back then, I think I was the saddest girl in the whole room because when I went on stage, no one would applaud me. Because of this, during my four years in high school, I hid the fact that I was Roma.”[1] Many Roma teenagers would close to their peers preferring life within the Roma community. Still others, benefiting from summer camps that aim to boost Roma self-esteem, overcome shame and find pride in their ethnicity: “… I am a Roma child, and I am proud of it! I get along very well with my mom my dad and my teacher. I like to have many friends, and I do have many, not only Roma, Romanians as well. I talk nicely to all the people, it does not matter if they are like me, that is if they are Roma or Romanians.”[2] Another said, “I was ashamed to say I am Roma, but not anymore.”[3] But there are also Roma young people who can’t cope with these pressures; they become depressed, skip classes, or drop out in the face of the prejudice and negative attitudes of non-Roma colleagues or teachers.

At the same time, biased or discriminatory behaviors often go unnoticed in an education system that does not include intercultural education methods and human rights standards in its teacher training.  Teachers who do benefit from such training become aware of the way they shape children’s motivation or apathy, prejudice or respect, curiosity or disregard for education: “We love them, we help them, yet, in school, their skin color begins to count; children begin to separate, Roma are marginalized, no one wants to share a desk with them.” [4]

Research shows that Roma youth have similar aspirations and dreams regarding education as their non-Romani peers do. Yet, the discrepancies between the Roma aspirations for education and their realistic expectations for future careers correlate precisely with the experience of discrimination and other hardships they have faced.[5] Thus, they need coordinated efforts by others to diminish prejudice in schools and beyond.

A crucial step towards reducing prejudice is learning about the history of the Roma and of other minorities living in Romania. The new curriculum adopted by the Ministry of Education could become a factor in changing stereotypes about Roma and provide a sense of belonging for Roma teenagers.

Along with systemic changes, Roma and non-Roma youth need to be exposed to Romani characters, stories, and ideas—and they must be current and exciting, so they can inspire youth to succeed and feel proud. Romani heroes and stories have the power to guide adolescents toward diversity and stir curiosity about the Roma. Such characters must be portrayed through movies, cartoons, books, etc., but the stories could also speak about real people, who are loved by the society and especially by teenagers.

This blog post summarizes and includes excerpts from Margareta Matache and David Mark, “Confined by Narrow Choices: The Stories of Roma Adolescents,” in Jacqueline Bhabha, ed., Human Rights and Adolescence, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

 

[1] Excerpt froma adolescents testimonial included in Romani CRISS and UNICEF Romania ( 2011). Roma school participation, non-attendance and discrimination in Romania, Vanemonde

[2] Testimonial of a Roma adolescent, participantat a summer camp, 2010

[3] Testimonial of a Roma adolescent, participant at a summer camp, 2010

[4] Focus group teachers, Bucharest, 2010

[5] Jacqueline Bhabha et al., Reclaiming adolescence: a Roma rights perspective, Harvard Educational Review, forthcoming 2017.

Magda Matache este instructor în cadrul FXB Center for Health and Human Rights al Universității Harvard. Este directoarea Programului pentru Romi, o iniţiativă care promovează strategii de cercetare inovatoare şi evaluează studiile de cercetare internaționale referitoare la romi. Aria sa de cercetare acoperă domenii precum drepturile copiilor şi adolescenţilor romi, segregarea în educaţie şi cercetarea participativă.

Magda Matache is an Instructor at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.  She is the Director of the Roma Program, which focuses on innovative research strategies and critical analysis of scholarly production regarding Roma. Her research spans the rights of Roma children and adolescents, segregation in education, and participatory action research.