Is Racism Against Travellers Socially Acceptable?

Prejudice is wrong – unless of course, it’s against travellers. Now let’s not get it twisted here. While the hard right, Britain First members, will complain about the politically correct culture. We live in the most inclusive era the world has ever seen. While there still exists a need for people to fight for equality.

Let’s be honest there is a lot of homophobic bullying that goes on! Women aren’t always treated how they should be. And let’s not even “go there” when it comes to the “them and us” mentality to anyone with an “eastern religion”. But that being said for every prejudice that exists there is usually a proportionally larger group quite willing to (rightfully) make these people ashamed, but that seems to not the be the case when it comes to travellers.

So what is the travelling community?

At its very core, the travelling community is a group of people who don’t have a fixed abode, often staying in caravans and living a nomadic lifestyle. There are gipsies who originated in Northern India and have spread throughout Europe. More commonly in the UK is the Irish travellers who refer to themselves as Minkiers and often speak their own language. Referring to them as gipsies or “gippos” Is often considered quite offensive as their culture is very different from the Romani gipsies who come traditionally from a Hindu background.

Why the hate?

A lot of it springs from stereotypes. The media has it’s part to play! TV shows like “my big fat gipsy wedding” highlight the sensational side of travelling culture without paying a real focus to the strong sense of family which can often permeate the travelling community. So in the heads of many of its viewers, that is how all travelling folk act all the time. Films like Snatch don’t help things with their portrayal of travellers either.

So what does this prejudice look like?

Often travellers will be denied services freely available to other people. A wealth of people are naturally suspicious of the motives of travellers. Often assuming they are going to steal from them or rip them off. These are horrendous stereotypes. Largely they exist because the nature of travellers dictates that they often take on ad hoc manual labour jobs, this, of course, fits in with their nomadic lifestyle and it is largely because of this that they have developed their reputation.

I have a friend who is engaged to a traveller and they have literally been refused service on the grounds that they are “pikeys”. This friend just happens to be one of the most intelligent people I know, and legally blind might I add. Yet it’s okay for her to be denied service on grounds of being a traveller? Take this sentence “No you can’t hire our venue because you are a pikey”. Now replace the word Pikey with the word Jew and say that out loud. Do you sound like Nazi? Ironically travellers were persecuted during World War 2 as well. As many as 4 million potentially died in concentration camps. And yet this form of discrimination is widespread.

Do travellers deserve protection?

Of course, they do! Although it took far too long to bring about as of 2017 they have now recognised as an ethnic group which means their traditions and values should be respected in line with any other ethnic group – but of course, this doesn’t happen. In Essex where there is a large community of Irish travellers, they have severed regulations to stop travellers parking and almost nowhere for them to set up their homes, effectively forcing people into homelessness. This isn’t a “life choice” this is a family heritage and this group of people are being denied that.

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