We are an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the history, culture and true lives of Romani people worldwide.
We confront racism and oppression wherever we encounter it.
We try to make connections with all the "isms" that make up western culture.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
BOOK SIGNING FOR 'GYPPED' WILL PROCEED DESPITE CONCERNS
A new installment of a best-selling mystery series is making waves locally not for its content, but for its racially loaded title.
“Gypped: A Regan Reilly Mystery,” is the fifteenth book in The New York Times best-selling mystery series authored by Carol Higgins Clark. The book signing tour is set to land in San Diego Thursday at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Kearny Mesa at 7 p.m.
The plot of the newest book, released April 3, has nothing to do with Gypsies, or Roma people whose origins trace back to northern India and Central and Eastern Europe. Rather, the book follows private investigator Regan Reilly as she uncovers a widespread financial scam in California.
The title, however, has prompted San Diego resident Elizabeth Schwartz to call for the event’s cancellation, saying the word constitutes a racial slur and “is beyond offensive to the Roma, because it suggests they are venal and dishonest.”
“Would you be hosting a book launch for a book called ‘Jewed’?” Schwartz wrote in an email April 20 to a bookstore representative.
Schwartz is Jewish, not Roma, but sympathizes with their cause because they were persecuted by Nazi Germany. In her protest email to the bookstore, she detailed the past and present persecution of the Roma people and passed along information about the word’s history, including its insensitive usage to mean being conned. She copied The Watchdog.
“I am utterly horrified that you are being complicit in perpetuating racism and discrimination... Please cancel this event,” Schwartz wrote.
Bookstore co-owner Maryelizabeth Hart responded to the email Tuesday saying the signing would move forward as planned.
“Putting these books on our shelves and even promoting author events is by no means an endorsement of their views or that language, but simply an endorsement of the overriding principle that people have a right to their own words and their own opinions, and so do those who choose to protest those views and those opinions,” Hart wrote. “We cannot, as booksellers, make ourselves into censors of any kind, as that would be the ultimate betrayal of that principle.”
Hart relayed comments from the author, who said she was unaware of the word’s root meaning.
“I am truly sorry for any offense caused by using the word ‘Gypped’ as the title of my book. It was a familiar word since childhood which no one I knew associated with its origin. Since this issue arose, I’ve asked many people who also had no idea of any negative connotation. Again, I apologize,” the statement said.
Schwartz said she will respectfully attend Thursday’s signing alongside San Diego State University professor Yale Strom, one of the foremost scholars and performers of klezmer and Roma music, to distribute educational information.