Whatever Wednesday: Why I don’t use the word “Gypsy”

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Gypsy heart. Gypsy soul. The word evokes the image of a long haired, long skirted woman roaming through the fields. Care-free, free-spirited, independent woman.  The reality though, isn’t that way.

Gypsy is a slur.

Believe me, it took me a LONG time to get over using that word. It resonated so strongly with me, and had such beautiful romantic inclinations. I knew the word had a darker history than I wanted to reckon with, but I didn’t want to accept that. After all, didn’t mean it that way!

But our words matter, and by using that word I was complicit in erasing the struggles of a group of people who had been stomped on and kicked around since the beginning of time. The “gypsies” are a group of people called the Romani. Ever since their arrival in Europe, they have been stereotyped as thieves, homeless, or other unsavory types. Even phrases like “I was totally gypped in there!” come from the stereotype that the Romani are cheaters and thugs. By using the word Gypsy, we are erasing the word Romani. By romanticizing their struggle, we’re all sweeping them under the rug.

It can be hard to let go of a word you resonate with. But our words matter, and we should be aware of how our words affect others. If we are all supposed to be spreading love and light, we shouldn’t be using words that do harm to others. Using it on accident is one thing, but we should all be working toward consciously eliminating oppressive lingo from our lives.

Let’s ALL work on spreading love and light,

~E

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