Saturday, January 23, 2010

Outside The Box !

I opened an email this morning that had originally been sent to my colleague Rachel at UK Association of Gypsy Women, it was an invitation to register for a program that is designed to encourage and support people from unrepresented (minority ethnic) groups to take public appointments.

I read with enthusiasm until Rachel’s email went on to direct me to the attached Diversity Form, I have put a copy on this post and apologise that I have struggled to do this (techno phobe) and it is rather small and difficult to read.

The top and tail of it was that although invited via a Gypsy and Traveller unit from Communities and Local Government, we as a people had no place. Many races and mixed races are listed, but we it seems are expected to tick the box marked “other”

The Romany Gypsy people are UK’s oldest Ethnic Minority, we have fought and died for our country, yet when it comes to being recognised, at the bottom of the list we are simply considered as one of, or part of what makes up “the others”

I know Rachel has replied to this invitation and made her feels perfectly clear, and I will do so via this blog.

Diversity forms are supposed to exist to help eliminate discrimination, so..if your ethnic group are listed on the form, you can be accounted for, “you count” your voice and cultural needs quite rightly are important to those who have complied the form. do they consider the needs of the “others”, the nameless ones who don’t fit into any box,..quite simply..they don’t.

This goes toward keeping our people marginalised

There are some area’s whose forms have a box for Gypsy Traveller, but they are few and far between. I for one refuse fill them in, but write on the bottom
“ I am a Romany Gypsy woman, I am from UK’s oldest ethnic minority, neither myself or any of my people are “an other” of any kind”

I hope the Gypsy/Traveller/Roma people who read this blog will do the same

Rachel Francis Igham has asked me to add her comment to the post;

The diversity form was included with an invitation to participate in a new government sponsored Public appointments mentoring programme initiative, which is designed to encourage and support people from under represented groups to take up public appointments.

CLGO Gypsy Traveller Unit emailed the invitation to me on Friday the 22nd January stating ‘unfortunately they had just received this information and the deadline for applications submitted was the 31st January 2010, I have no reason to believe otherwise.

However, as my colleague Shay commented just over one week to the deadline.. well planned! I am inclined to agree.

UK Association of Gypsy Women have consulted with central government for many years and if I am honest, we cannot be accused of giving them an easy ride, none of the consultants were ‘Yes women’. I am also aware that we are ‘tolerated’ only because they cannot be seen to ignore an organisation that is solely led by community women, even so we have had to fight every step of the way for our place round the consultation table.

It has not been made easy for us, saying that we will continue to break down the barriers of exclusion until my people enjoy the same rights as every other citizen of our homeland.

Rachel Francis


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In America, we are on no forms, including the census.

If we tell what "other" we are, we usually are not hired. However, it is better to tell the truth and go from interview to interview to interview then be found out after being hired and then fired

note from Shay
sent to me via email be "mulo"
I'm sure he won't mind me adding it to the "comments"

January 23, 2010 at 11:17:00 PM GMT  
Anonymous Dick said...

Good for you, Shay. What a liberty! Proof positive that holding office in local government doesn't require intelligence, sensitivity and a broad knowledge of the supposed area of competence. Shouldn't we be demanding that these forms be re-drafted immediately? The original is on the hard drive of a computer somewhere. They'll just have to recycle the forms in stock and print out a new run.

January 24, 2010 at 11:17:00 AM GMT  
Anonymous Tracie said...

Peshas, Out of Curiosity do you know the percentage of Gypsy in America?

January 27, 2010 at 5:01:00 PM GMT  
Anonymous Tracie said...

Pesha, I meant to say. Darn Typos.

January 27, 2010 at 5:02:00 PM GMT  
Blogger jimquk said...

I believe these ethnic monitoring forms do more harm than good. I do a lot of work with asylum seekers and refugees, and have found that not only do they usually not fit conveniently into any of the categories offered, but also they assume that the purpose is to allow discrimination against them instead of promoting fairness.

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