Advanced search

Why do people still think it's ok to use racist terms re gypsies?

(250 Posts)
GingerbreadGingerbread Fri 19-Aug-16 15:43:49

I am from a Romany gypsy family but a couple of generations ago. You would never have a clue if you met my parents and came to my family home as it was only on one parent's side and my mum and dad are wealthy and I am privately educated and have an academic career. However I am ashamed to say that I am nervous to tell anyone of my heritage. I am proud of my family and my gypsy grandparents who I was closer to than anyone in the world and spent the most time with whilst they were still alive. They were honest, principle led and amazing people. However I lost count of the number of occasions educated seemingly nice normal people come out with: "they are just disgusting gyppos aren't they?" Just now a colleague burst into my office saying someone had stolen his fork and they must be a "thieving pikey gyppo". Why is this seen as acceptable? It's disgusting and just makes me dislike the arrogant ignorant idiots! Are any MN willing to come forward and admit to using this language and explain why they find it acceptable?

Newes Fri 19-Aug-16 15:45:48

Ummm,yeah, you're going to get loads of takers for this one hmm

Buzzardbird Fri 19-Aug-16 15:47:42

I wouldn't use any of those terms. I am shocked when I hear the terms.

Mouikey Fri 19-Aug-16 15:49:16

It's interesting because it the one area of racism that appears to be commonly accepted even in the workplace. In my field there is often lots of work streams around gypsies & it's the only time I hear otherwise 'normal' people speak in such derogatory tones. I couldn't imagine them speaking in a similar way about other races and not get reprimanded for it. I have no idea why it is considered acceptable.

WorraLiberty Fri 19-Aug-16 15:49:58

Are any MN willing to come forward and admit to using this language and explain why they find it acceptable?

Yeah cos that's going to happen, isn't it! grin

YANBU to find racist comments disgusting though, but I guess you know that.

FWIW despite an ongoing and worsening problem in my borough with travelers turning up out of the blue overnight, I still don't know anyone who thinks it's acceptable to use racist language.

Even the ones who do use it (for example comments on my local newspaper's FB page), know it's unacceptable but basically couldn't give a shit.

BeyondLovesSweetDee Fri 19-Aug-16 15:50:17

I've had a similar aibu thread re racism aimed at gypsies before.
It did not go well...

No, it isn't okay, but there are a lot of people who'll come out with "well they bring [the bad reputation] on themselves..."

SilverDragonfly1 Fri 19-Aug-16 15:50:39

I thought Gypsy was a racist word. Travellers, isn't it, or Rom.

FullTimeYummy Fri 19-Aug-16 15:50:41

I can't imagine anybody saying "thieving pikeys" is referring to Romany gypsies

Vickyyyy Fri 19-Aug-16 15:51:52

I thought gypsy was wrong to say tbh. Thought traveller was the chosen term.

ArseHair Fri 19-Aug-16 15:52:36

I could've written your post, Gingerbread. Pisses me off no end. I've lost 'friends' once they found I have Romany heritage.

Don't understand it at all x

Bagina Fri 19-Aug-16 15:53:39

I guess it comes from people's own experiences. The last time they were by my house we had great pleasure in watching a traveller woman shitting under the railway bridge, which is also a public footpath used by scores of people a day, usually by kids walking to school. The travellers we have endured for decades in this area have brought chaos, crime and pure filth. That is most people's reality and leads to hatred, I guess.

BeyondLovesSweetDee Fri 19-Aug-16 15:54:13

Funnily enough worra, my thread ages ago (it was deleted as a bunfight) had plenty of people willing to come on and say why it is okay to be racist in this instance, and why they think it doesn't count as racism

Rattusn Fri 19-Aug-16 15:55:32

Pikeys is a term that a lot of people don't necessarily associate with gypsies. (Though obviously pikey gypo is different.)

No one is going to come forward and say they are racist. We also have a problem locally of travellers bringing caravans into parks, and defecating in the parks on the grass (despite local public toilets). That is disgusting behaviour, and they are obviously not doing their community any favours.

acasualobserver Fri 19-Aug-16 15:56:03

Just now a colleague burst into my office saying someone had stolen his fork and they must be a "thieving pikey gyppo"

Good God, where do you work?!

EatsShitAndLeaves Fri 19-Aug-16 15:56:17

I don't use the term pikey but I would use the term gypsy.

I wouldn't pre-face it with the word "fucking" or "thieving" however.

Is there racism to the traveling community - yes there is.

Where I have encountered it, it's been in direct reaction to illegal camps which are then left in an utter state that costs the local community thousands to repair.

There are a lot of travellers who are hard working, honest and set up camp when traveling responsibly and ensure its left as found.

However there are those that have no care for the impact they have on a local community.

Whist this element prevails then it's surely understandable why communities find it hard not to show contempt for that specific behaviour, though it doesn't justify more general racism.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 19-Aug-16 15:56:18

Maybe they don't realise the origin of the word?

(I say that as someone who merrily used the word "mong" to mean slobbing about being lazy because I thought it came from "mongrel" - I have since been re-educated blush)

VoldysGoneMouldy Fri 19-Aug-16 15:56:33

I'd never use them. But I do have a family member who does, along with others. I challenge them on it every time, it's vile. Racism towards travellers still seems to be considered acceptable by so many people.

PersianCatLady Fri 19-Aug-16 15:58:50

Personally I think that while there are Romany gypsies and others who have travelled for centuries and led a different way of life without any issues, there are also people who travel around in caravans and do not behave appropriately.

Where the problem lies is that mentally people hear the words "gypsy" and "traveller" and immediately decided that they are the second type of people I have described above.

What is ridiculous is that it is similar in a way to how all non-white people were referred to as "coloured" in the 1950s.

Society has moved on and now it is not acceptable to describe people from Africa as being the same as people from China by calling them "coloured".

Hopefully this is what will one day happen with the terms "gypsy" and "traveller".

JeanGenie23 Fri 19-Aug-16 15:59:14

People won't admit to wrong doing, especially on this site.

Many years ago, I volunteered at a local women's refuge and I came into contact with a lady and her children, she was a traveller. Meeting her forced me to challenge my prejudices, I always considered myself to be respectful of everyone until I met her and realise I still held unfair judgments. Anyway I spent a lot of time with her and her children and I feel very different about the traveller community now.
On a very basic level I guess it boils down to people being afraid of what they do not understand.

TaraCarter Fri 19-Aug-16 16:00:56

I don't know. I never use that word, but yeah, lots will swear it doesn't count as a racist perjorative.

yorkshapudding Fri 19-Aug-16 16:01:24

I have had many deeply unpleasant experiences involving members of the travelling community over the years (related to previous job roles and due to a groups of travellers periodically pitching up near my former home) but I don't think it's ever acceptable to use racist language and would not do so.

PersianCatLady Fri 19-Aug-16 16:03:47

used the word "mong" to mean slobbing about being lazy
An old lady I know was telling me the other day about how she was still having issues with her "spastic leg" and my son (stood next to me) was trying so hard not to laugh.

When the lady walked on my son said how surprised he was that she had said the word "spastic" as at school they get a lunch time detention for saying that word. He had absolutely no idea that the word "spastic" actually had a medical meaning.

GingerbreadGingerbread Fri 19-Aug-16 16:06:47


Well bagina has happily stepped forward and explained why she thinks it's ok so not as surprising as you may have originally thought.

WorraLiberty Fri 19-Aug-16 16:09:27

bagina has said no such thing confused

If you go back and read, she has explained why it appears other people seem to think it's ok.

choccywoccywoowah Fri 19-Aug-16 16:10:24

I find it odd that people are not questioning the prejudices that the travelling community hold themselves - the sexism, the homophobia. Obviously I realise that the travelling community are homogenous in their views but it is well documented by travellers themselves that these kinds of attitudes prevail.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now