We don’t know them

Anna StepankovaGymnazium Jan Patocka Prague
What is my attitude towards Roms and skinheads? I don’t know, in fact.
When I see a group of Roms or a group of skinheads, I cross the street to avoid them. For me it is the same with Roms and with skinheads.
I have no experience with skinheads, I only see them in thestreet. It’s different with Roms, though just a little bit.
This happened when I was a little girl and my younger brother was still a baby. I sang in a choir in Karlin. My mother used to take me there, and when we went on foot we had to go through Zizkov. Many Roms live in Zizkov and in Karlin.
One day we had to go through a tunnel that leads to Karlin from Zizkov. There was a small bridge in front of the tunnel. Some young Roms were standing on the bridge, I didn’t care for them. And all of a sudden they started spitting on my brother in the baby carriage. It was terrible, and I was afraid they would hurt us. But my mother just ignored them, and walked faster. We were both happy when the encounter was over.
A few years later something else happened. Three Romany boys beat up my cousin. He was eleven then, and lived in Teplice, which is not a big town. My aunt wanted the boys to be punished, but the psychologist and the teacher told her not to do anything: the Roms could take revenge.
We have no right to criticize Roms. There are boys who hurt others among us too. There are good and bad people among us as well as among the Roms.
We have no right to judge because we are not able to tolerate and respect their customs and habits, their skin and their culture.
We don’t know them.
What do we know? We know that they are hot-tempered, that their skin is dark, that some of them are dirty, that they are ignorant and that many of them have no work.
Yes, now I realize that I know nothing about them.
Who is to blame? Why are they noteducated? Why don’t they have work? Why do they steal and make problems?
They used to be thieves, they stole poultry, they used to be musicians and magicians who could foretell the future from cards. These things are inherited.
But we are also to blame. We don’t let them into the society, we don’t believe that they are talented.
There are also Roms who want to study and live in peace, who don’t want to live in fear that somebody hurts them.
I have to admit that I don’t trust Roms. I have no friends among them. Though I don’t have any enemies among them either.
When I meet some Roms, my opinion might change.

Leave a Reply