‘Voiceless’ Roma people use comics to replace stereotypes with facts

oma people in the UK listed things they wanted people to better understand about their communities before their thoughts were transformed into art

‘Misunderstood’ Roma people have had their thoughts turned into comic-style art in a bid to challenge stereotypes about their heritage and culture. Members of Roma communities in Romania, Slovakia and Hungary who now live in the UK worked with Friends of Romano Lav, a Glasgow-based charity that supports young Roma migrants, to devise the Roma Guide.

Although Roma people are often described as leading a nomadic way of life, 95 per cent of European Roma people have fixed housing. Artwork: Alexandre De Maio

It is designed to stimulate interest in Roma culture, history and people – delving beyond stereotypes, as Juliana Penha who helped run the project explained. “Roma communities are underrepresented in the media and the few pieces of media coverage about them are negative,” said Penha.

“Popular knowledge about Roma culture is based on myths and negative portrayals, largely produced by media sensationalism. Despite being Europe’s largest minority, Roma people are voiceless. This project challenge the perceptions people have about these communities.”

Popular knowledge about Roma culture is based on myths and negative portrayals, largely produced by media sensationalism

Research carried out by the European Commission suggests that Roma people, of whom there are approximately 10 million in Europe, suffer more from racism than any other minority in Europe. Originally from northern India, Roma people have had a strong presence in Europe since around the 13th century. The EU has long stressed the need for better integration of and with their communities.

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