(Photo source) Here's a post I wrote back in 2009 on my lesser-used Back in Paris blog. Seems like nothing has changed for the better. Right now, ministers in the UK are trying to come up with negative publicity for living in Britain at an attempt to keep Romanians and Bulgarians away. I'm not sure they have a full understanding of 'what' Romanians and Bulgarians actually are. Only what they presume they are.
Here is the post I wrote more than three years ago. Seems the parallels are overwhelming:
The other day as I was going down the steps to my nearest metro here in Paris, I noticed a woman putting up a poster. Nosey as I am, I went to see what it was. A lost cat, perhaps? Nope. She had been attacked in front of the cash dispenser, robbed of 300 euros and was looking for witnesses. I was very sorry to hear such a thing (told her so), not only for her but for our area which has always been a safe one. I continued to read:
J'ai été dérobée de 300 euros
par un jeune homme, de type roumain.
By brain stopped working. I read the last three words again. No longer did I care whether or not she had been attacked and robbed (how stupid to take such a huge amount of money out of a cash dispenser anyway - has she never heard of the inside of a bank, which is for such transactions). I cared far more about those three words. De type roumain. What did she mean exactly, I asked through gritted teeth. She explained. "Dark skin, dirty, smelly, bare-footed..." "Ah," I said. "You mean 'tzigane'? Rroma?" "Perhaps," she said looking a little confused. "But 'de type roumain'."
Did she speak Roumanian? No. Did she know any Roumanians? No. Had she ever been to Roumania? No.
I took out my phone and showed her a photo of O. - blonde haired, pale skinned, very pretty O. "Like this?" I asked. "No, no." "Okay, like this?" I showed her pictures of A., M., L and F. No, not at all. Another picture of M. then my N. Then S. Then G. One of them must be similar to her idea of 'de type roumain' surely... Or what about me? "No, they don't resemble his type at all. Nor do you." "Funny," I seethe, "because these people are all Roumanian. And I am, too." (I'm not, but that's hardly the point, is it.)
"Bizarre, non? So, next time you want to write something on a poster stuck in a public place, Madame, maybe you should get your facts right, and put something like 'Hier à 10h50, une femme 'de type francais' a été attaquée et dérobée de 300 euros par un jeune homme 'de type tzigane'..." She blinked at me like a mole and clearly had absolutely no idea what on earth I was so irate about.
I tried to explain: "Roumanians, on the whole, are educated and cultured people and I shall defend them to the ends of the earth. If you do not know the difference between a Roumanian of Roumanian origin and a Rrom of Indian origin ie. living on Roumanian territory with Roumanian nationality but not of Roumanian ethnicity, then I strongly suggest you hit google or go to the library and do a little research before you start writing posters with sweeping statements of racial supposition...get my point?" She didn't.
"But everyone knows what a 'type roumain' is..."
And you know what? Very unfortunately, she is right. Everyone knows exactly what 'de type roumain' is, because we live in a society of ignorance, lack of education, absence of curiosity, and, even worse, a complete absence of caring less aboutfor such detail. Who could give a damn, unless of course you ARE a Roumanian living in the west looking for work and as soon as you say you're Roumanian doors slam in your face because automatically you are labelled as a chicken thief. OR if you're a blonde and fair skinned Roumanian, educated, cultured, beautifully spoken and polyglot (as most friends of mine are), people gulp and say 'ah bon? Vous etes Roumaine? Mince, alors!' with such disbelief it makes you squirm...
When is this confusion between Rrom and Roumanian ever going to end? When can I stop writing these kinds of posts, stop having to explain the differences, stop having to defend the people of tara de inima mea who work so hard trying to convince people that Roumanians are just like the French - but more open, more giving, more generous, more scarred and a lot less spoilt...?
My blood continues to boil and I wonder what to do.
Here endeth the diatribe...for now.
And here we are in 2013.
PS. I think I shall readopt my previous spelling of 'Romania' adding the 'u' again. At least that makes a small differentiation amongst the confusion...