A couple weeks ago, I hashtagged a boho-style travel picture on Instagram with #gypset, thinking it connotated a bohemian travel vibe. Emilie Maine of the blog Maine Ethics (and fellow member of Ethical Writers & Creatives) reached out to explain to me the history of the racial slur g*psy, and why I should consider not ever using it. I told her she should write a blog post on it, since I didn’t know and wish I did before I put my digital foot in my mouth. And she wrote it! I’m reposting it here for you.
Have you seen any instagram accounts, hashtags, or even physical products using the word g*psy? I’ve seen an increase in Instagram accounts featuring photos of women wearing long dresses with flowing hair, or of a group of travellers, boots muddy from hiking. All of these accounts use the word g*psy in their bio, or as their account name. I want to clear this up for anyone who uses g*psy in their branding, business, or in their day to day lives.
G*psy is a racist term, not a cool business name, instagram account, or self-descriptor.
Contrary to contemporary pop-culture definitions, g*psy does not mean free-spirited, eco friendly, a world adventurer, or even hippie or bohemian. Similar to the n- word, g*psy is actually a racist slur for a group of people; the Romani (or Roma).
To give you some history, the Romani people were a nomadic group, and an oppressed ethnic minority, whose origin and struggle dates back to 10th century India. They were displaced during a series of invasions in the 11th century. (Sway 1975) When the Romani people first migrated to Europe in the 11th century, the Catholic church discriminated against them, their unique culture, religious beliefs and their systems of social organization. Romani people and culture was seen as ‘deviant’ from Catholicism. The name gypsy itself actually originated because the European’s mistook them as Egyptian.
Read about the Roma’s long, outrageous history of oppression that continues today, on Maine Ethics.