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A day for dismantling stereotypes

Published Thu, 09/04/2015 - 09:27

Integration. International Romani Day was celebrated in Barcelona with acts aimed at breaking down stereotypes.

Barcelona celebrated International Romani Day with acts aimed at breaking down stereotypes. The date commemorates the World Romani Congress near London on 8 April 1971, when the flag and song were instituted.

A hundred balloons in the colours of the Romani flag were released to celebrate International Romani Day. Just before that, a group of children had taken to the stage in front of Montjuïc fountain dressed in t-shirts with labels on such as ‘dirty’, ‘sexist’ and ‘illiterate’, along with other derogatory words. The act aimed to show the will of Barcelona’s gypsies to break free from the stereotypes that affect them.

“We gypsies are not all the same. Some gypsies are bank managers, others look for cardboard in the street. Some have steady jobs and others are unemployed. We’re no different to the rest of Catalans, but we do have our own culture and roots”, explained the vice-president of the Municipal Romani Council, Juana Fernández.

A wheel as a symbol

The act also saw the Romani flag hoisted, depicting a wheel as a symbol of itinerant people. It’s an adaptation of the Indian flag as this is considered the origin of the first Romani people. It was adopted as the official Romani flag at the first World Romani Congress near London in 1971.

“Gypsies arrived in Spain in the 15th century and the first place they settled was in Catalonia. We’ve been here a long time, and in Barcelona there are lots in Gràcia, Hostafrancs and the Raval”, explained Fernández.

Once the speeches and institutional acts were over, flamenco and rumba were the order of the day at the festival. Apart from the main acts, International Romani Day was marked in the rest of the city with information points and events such as the ceremony at the Besòs river with candles being lit and flower petals scattered in the water.

 

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