Saturday, November 20, 2010

Marginalization in Europe

While clawing my way out of the wilderness that is slow internet and all-too-constant travel, I've been watching and listening to a lot on the state of Roma populations across Western Europe. There's been a bit of a controversy surrounding the recent BBC documentary (Just some stuff on the internet I read, honestly - may be nothing), but I pretty much really liked Rageh Omaar's take on Al Jazeera, some of which you can see right here.

This is admittedly a bit outside the scope of the blog, but I find the Roma's situation quite interesting because of what it says about “otherness”and marginalization especially when they clash with political gain on the part of unpopular political leaders (It's worth noting, after all, that neither Berlusconi nor Sarkozy are particularly popular in their respective countries). This isn't a tidy parallel at all, I realize, but I raise this in the first place because it presents a good counterexample to the subject of Chinese who emigrate to Senegal, in particular the position of power that Chinese government occupies in the business dealings of its people in the country, versus the castaway nature and powerlessness of the Roma population in Italy and France.

Along with the Chinese example, this got me thinking about the constant strain of argument about how class, not race, is the main problem facing modern society today. I'm among those who would respond that, well, race is class. Being black itself – just like being Roma itself, or being Latino, or insert-minority-here – isn't the problem, after all. It's the conclusions drawn about one's self-worth, and the apportioning of rights therefore, like food rations.

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