Romano Museum


Romas as a national minority

Immediately after the change of political regime in 1990, after centuries of cruel exploitation and total ignorance, exclusionary racism and domination, physical extermination and forced assimilation or cultural ethnocide, the Roma were, for the first time in their history on these territories, recognized as a national minority by the Romanian state. However, the Roma do not really enjoy the cultural rights arising from this status precisely against the background of the stigmatization of ethnicity and the persistence of anti-Roma racism both in society and at the level of public authorities, the latter often choosing to exclude Roma from the exercise of both civil and ethnic rights. Although a recognized national minority, the Roma are still victims of social exclusion, often ignored as a national minority and considered only as a vulnerable or disadvantaged social group. Consequently, public policies addressed to the Roma in the last 30 years, including government strategies for the inclusion of the Roma, starting with the first such strategy in 2001, have focused in particular on the social integration of the Roma and the fight against poverty, treating superficially or marginally the prevention and combating anti-Roma racism and the issue of Roma ethnic identity and almost ignoring the fact that the Roma are a recognized national minority with cultural rights arising from this status.

Despite all the evolution of the organization of the Roma after their recognition as a national minority, the Romanian state remains deeply indebted to the Roma national minority, which it still considers a vulnerable or disadvantaged social group, preventing the exercise of cultural rights arising from the status of a national minority. Thus, while other national minorities have fundamental public institutions such as museums, theaters, public forum monuments, periodicals and other publications in the minority's native language, schools, high schools and faculties with teaching in the minority's native language, the Roma have only the National Center of Roma Culture, a marginalized and institutionally limited public institution from all points of view: staff size, budget, attributions, possibilities of action.

The only chance for the Roma to be not only de jure, but also de facto a national minority is for both the Romanian state and the Roma organizations to understand that full citizenship means, in the case of a national minority, including the exercise of cultural rights and to collaborate in order to the achievement of this desired.

It is the responsibility of the Romanian state to contribute decisively to the erasure of the stigma of the Roma ethnic identity precisely because it has practiced, for hundreds of years, a policy of stigmatizing the Roma culture. 

It is the responsibility of the Roma movement to continue and develop the vision of its beginnings in 1919 by increasing Roma ethnic consciousness, by practicing ethnic rights alongside civic rights and by reconstructing Roma ethno-culture in the modern institutional frameworks that the status of national minority long awaited and not fully exercised today.

dr. Delia Grigore/ Translation: Victoria Ducu

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What is the name of the only public institution that deales with Roma culture at national level?