Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Gypsies

Five Gypsies boarded the bus this morning: three women, a young girl and a man. As always, the women were colourful, dressed in ankle-length skirts, their heads bound in bright scarves. Bronzed and healthy, they chatted amongst themselves in their own language that nobody else on the bus could understand.

Yet it was interesting to watch the reactions of other passengers.

Whilst the Gypsies were on the bus, every move that they made was watched. people kept a close watch on their pockets and bags, fearful lest there should be some pickpocketing in store. Even though it was obvious that the Gypsies had their own business and were uninterested in the contents of pockets and bags of others, they were regarded with suspicion.

Admittedly Rome's Gypsy community is notorious, but I wonder what it is like to be automatically regarded as a potential thief just because of one's racial background? What is it like to be seen as unreliable, a con artist, beggar and scoundrel because one's clothes proclaim membership of a particular culture? How does someone who is honest, hardworking and upright even start to find equal footing with the rest of society? Doesn't such a person find an uphill battle from the start? Is there any hope of true equality with the rest of the human race?

Is this racism in the midst of an apparently non-racist society? What would God say about it?

God bless,
Sr. Janet