Use of the term gypsy
by Bengtson, Lissa via Callers
Thank you for the clarification from the Voice of Roma.
Having learned the dance move and the term, and used it in complete ignorant innocence, I feel sad that it's leaving.
But I'm sentimental about the Confederate flag, too and sad that my high school's arch-rival will no longer be Robert E Lee High School. I've just been living my life in a pool of ignorance and not realizing I'm offending people right and left.
Sent from my iPhone
> On Nov 4, 2015, at 3:01 PM, via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
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> Today's Topics:
> 1. Fwd: Use of the word "gypsy" in various folk dances -
> Response from Voice of Roma (Martha Wild via Callers)
> 2. Re: Fwd: Use of the word "gypsy" in various folk dances -
> Response from Voice of Roma (Winston, Alan P. via Callers)
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2015 19:43:31 -0800
> From: Martha Wild via Callers <callers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
> To: Caller's discussion list <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
> Subject: [Callers] Fwd: Use of the word "gypsy" in various folk dances
> - Response from Voice of Roma
> Message-ID: <E9D55526-AB98-4C9C-AA56-DD67DACF5AF4(a)sbcglobal.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"
> All, I have received the following response from a representative from the Voice of Roma. This seems to be a pretty definitive response to whether the term is insulting or not to the Roma people.
> Begin forwarded message:
>> From: Carol Silverman <csilverm(a)uoregon.edu>
>> Subject: Re: Use of the word "gypsy" in various folk dances
>> Date: November 3, 2015 7:28:00 PM PST
>> To: Martha Wild <mawild(a)sbcglobal.net>, Voice of Roma <voiceofroma(a)gmail.com>
>> Cc: Petra Gelbart <petragelbart(a)gmail.com>
>> Dear Martha,
>> Sani Rifati, President of Voice of Roma forwarded you message to me. Although I am not Romani, I am on the Board of VOR and we do care deeply about the terms used for the people we represent.
>> A large number of Roma (but not all) are offended by the term Gypsy, especially with a small g. To ?gyp" someone means to steal and swindle; plus the word connotes a false history? it a short for Egyptian whereas Roma are from India. Roma have faced centuries of discrimination, and today are subject to deportations and racial profiling; this would be an opportunity to teach your community a little about their history.
>> So whatever the history of the dance step, I know that names can be changed by sensitive callers like you. I would urge you to change the names and seize and educational moment!
>> Sincerely, Carol Silverman
>> PS Check the VOR webs page fro my information: http://www.voiceofroma.com/culture/gyp_vs_rom.html
>>> From: Martha Wild <mawild(a)sbcglobal.net>
>>> Date: Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 1:56 AM
>>> Subject: Use of the word "gypsy" in various folk dances
>>> To: voiceofroma(a)gmail.com
>>> I am a folk dancer - I do a lot of contra dancing and English Country dance and I call the dances as well.
>>> Recently a newcomer who came to a dance at another venue brought to our (a group of caller's that talk about such subjects on a list) attention that we have been using the word gypsy for one of the dance moves in both types of dance. This dancer (not a Roma) came to one of our dances and was upset that we used the term "gypsy" for this dance move, as they felt that the word was insulting to the Roma people.
>>> I would like to know if this is the case, as we have never intended to be derogatory to anyone, but lots of dances have this move, and dance names even contain the name, like "The Gypsy Star" and others.
>>> The move in question is a move where two people walk around each other and back to place, while facing each other. There is some confusion about origin of the term, but the best guess is that there was an English Country dance called "The Spanish Gypsy" that was written over a hundred years ago, and it was the first to include this move of people walking around each other while facing (prior to that people generally did a "back to back, or what is also called "do-si-do". The move was not called a "gypsy", but because this dance used it and other dances copied it, people called it a "gypsy" because it was the same move that was in that dance.
>>> I've been calling these dances for over 25 years and have used this term to indicate this move, never intending anything by it other than as an established name for a dance figure. I am hoping that some of the folks at Voice of Roma could give me an opinion as to whether you find it offensive or not for us to continue to use it. We've been discussing on the web whether we should try to find a different name, but if you feel that this use of the word gypsy is not an issue then we can stop arguing over words like "eddy" or "swirl" and continue to use it. If you do find it offensive, however, I will gladly alter my dance cards to something else so as not to continue to be offensive.
>>> Thanks for your input,
>>> Martha Wild
>>> Sani Rifati
>> Carol Silverman
>> Department of Anthropology and
>> Folklore Program
>> University of Oregon
>> Eugene OR 97403-1218
>> Office 541-346-5114
>> Fax 541-346-0668