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Romani Americans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Romani people in the United States
Roma Americans
Romani Americans
Total population
est. 1,000,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York City, Dallas, Boston, Houston, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Atlanta and Minnesota[2][3]
American English, Romani language
Related ethnic groups
South Asian Americans
Part of a series on
Romani people
Flag of the Romani people

It is estimated that there are one million Romani people in the United States. Though the Romani population in the United States has largely assimilated into American society, the largest concentrations are in Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Texas and the Northeast as well as in cities such as Chicago and St. Louis.[1][4]

The largest wave of Romani immigrants came as a result of the abolition of Romani slavery in the occupied Balkan region of the weakening Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Romani immigration to the United States has continued at a steady rate ever since, with an increase of Romani immigration following the 1989 collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe.[1]

The size of the Romani American population and the absence of a historical and cultural presence, such as the Romani have in Europe, make Americans largely unaware of the existence of the Romani as a people.[1] The term's lack of significance within the United States prevents many Romani from using the term around non-Romani: identifying themselves by nationality rather than heritage.[5] The U.S. Census does not distinguish Romani as a group since it is neither a nationality nor a religion.[1]

Romani Americans are the least integrated group in the United States, along with Native Americans.[6][7] Some Romani Americans prefer to pass as another ethnic group such as Native American, Mexican or Romanian.[8][9]

Residing in all states, their largest concentrations are in New York, Virginia, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, and the Pacific Coast.[10]

Romani Americans usually sell used cars and trailers, black-topping driveways and roofing to earn money.[11] Romani American careers are also psychics, astrologers, palm readers, tarot card readers, metal recycling and auto-body and fender repair.[12] Other sources of income for Romani Americans is seasonal farm labor, welfare, selling flowers on the street and begging.[13] They usually live in mobile homes and trailer parks.[14]



The Romani people originate from Northern India,[15][16][17][18][19][20] presumably from the northwestern Indian states Rajasthan[19][20] and Punjab.[19]

The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of Romani language lie in India: the language has grammatical characteristics of Indian languages and shares with them a big part of the basic lexicon, for example, body parts or daily routines.[21]

More exactly, Romani shares the basic lexicon with Hindi and Punjabi. It shares many phonetic features with Marwari, while its grammar is closest to Bengali.[22]

Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group.[16][17][23] According to a genetic study in 2012, the ancestors of present scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northern India, traditionally referred to collectively as the Ḍoma, are the likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma.[24]

In February 2016, during the International Roma Conference, the Indian Minister of External Affairs stated that the people of the Roma community were children of India. The conference ended with a recommendation to the Government of India to recognize the Roma community spread across 30 countries as a part of the Indian diaspora.[25]

Migration to the US

An encampment of the Roma people on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. The photographed group faced eviction from the Portland Police (1905).
An encampment of the Roma people on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. The photographed group faced eviction from the Portland Police (1905).

There were Gypsies with Christopher Columbus on his third voyage to Hispaniola (comprising present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti) in 1498.[26] The first Gypsies came to the New World as a result of deportations from England, France, Portugal, and Spain.[27] Romani slaves were first shipped to the Americas with Columbus in 1498. Spain sent Romani slaves to their Louisiana colony between 1762 and 1800.[28] The Romanichal, the first Romani group to arrive in North America in large numbers, moved to America from Britain around 1850. Eastern European Romani, the ancestors of most of the Romani population in the United States today, began immigrating to the United States on a large scale over the latter half of the 19th century coinciding with the weakening grip of the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Wars in Europe in the 19th century, which ultimately culminated in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), freeing many ethnic Eastern Europeans from Ottoman dominance and producing new waves of Romani immigrants.

That wave of Romani immigration comprised Romani-speaking peoples like the Kalderash, Machvaya, Lovari and Churari, and ethnically Romani groups that had integrated more within the Central and Eastern European societies, such as the Boyash (Ludari) of Romania and the Bashalde of Slovakia.[29] Bashalde reside principally in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Chicago and Las Vegas. Romani immigration, like all Central and Eastern European migration, was severely limited during the Soviet era in Central and Eastern Europe but picked up again in the 1990s after the fall of the Eastern Bloc.

The British, the Dutch and the Scottish sent Romani slaves to Virginia and the Caribbean such as Jamaica.[30] Germany banished them to Pennsylvania. Sweden sent them to the Delaware region.[31]

In 1999, the United States received Romani refugees from Kosovo.[32]

In the nineteenth century, non-Roma referred to Roma as “colored.” President Andrew Johnson, when vetoing the 1866 Civil Rights Bill, said: “This provision comprehends the Chinese of the Pacific States, Indians subject to taxation, the people called gypsies, as well as the entire race designated as blacks, people of color, negroes, mulattoes, and persons of African blood.”[33]

Roma in the United States mainly came from Serbia, Russia and Austria-Hungary and largely worked as coppersmiths and fortune tellers. Romani Americans also came from Italy, Greece, Romania and Turkey.[34][35]


  • Ludar: Hailing from North of the Balkans, Hungary, and the Banat, the Ludari, also known as Rudari, Boyash, or Banyash, are a subculture of Romani who arrived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[36]
  • Hungarian-Slovak Romani: The Romani of Northern Hungary largely settled in industrial cities of the Northern United States near the turn of the century. Among Romani from these areas were Olah, Romungre, and Bashalde immigrants. They were noted for their musical traditions and popularized Romani music in the United States by performing in cafes, night clubs and restaurants. Their prevalence in show business made Hungarian-Slovak Romani the most visible of the Romani groups arriving in America at the turn of the century and helped to shape the modern American idea of a Romani.[36]
  • Romanichal: The ancestral home of the Romanichals is the British Isles. Members of this group are found across the U.S., with concentrations in Arkansas, Texas and the Southeast.
  • Black Dutch: Gypsies from Germany, whom de Wendler-Funaro refers to as Chikkeners (Pennsylvania German, from the German Zigeuner), sometimes refer to themselves as "Black Dutch." They are few in number and claim to have largely assimilated into Romnichel culture. They are represented in de Wendler-Funaro's photographs by a few portraits of one old man and briefly referred to in the manuscript "In Search of the Last Caravan." [37]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Webley, Kayla (October 13, 2010). "Hounded in Europe, Roma in the U.S. Keep a Low Profile". Time Magazine.
  2. ^ Kittler, Pamela Goyan; Sucher, Kathryn P.; Nelms, Marcia (January 1, 2016). Food and Culture. Cengage Learning. ISBN 9781305886872 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Dregni, Michael (April 4, 2008). Gypsy Jazz: In Search of Django Reinhardt and the Soul of Gypsy Swing. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190295233 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Berry, Lynn (February 19, 1995). "Business - Gypsies Trying To Change Stereotyped Image -- Some Practice Their Ancient Culture Secretly". Seattle Times.
  5. ^ Kates, Glenn; Gergely, Valer (April 7, 2011). "For Roma, Life in US Has Challenges: People commonly known as 'Gypsies' face stereotyping, discrimination". Voice of America.
  6. ^ Sevcenko, Melanie. "Roma: The hidden Americans".
  7. ^ HANCOCK, IAN F. (June 15, 2010). "ROMA [GYPSIES]".
  8. ^ Anne Sutherland (2000-01-20). "The Patrin Web Journal - Roma (Gypsies) and Health Care in the US". Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  9. ^ Sutherland, Anne H. (May 25, 2016). Roma: Modern American Gypsies. Waveland Press. ISBN 9781478633792 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Parrillo, Vincent N. (July 30, 1985). Strangers to These Shores: Race and Ethnic Relations in the United States. Wiley. ISBN 9780471807421 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Daniels, Roger (July 30, 2001). American Immigration: A Student Companion. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195113167 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Brunvand, Jan Harold (May 24, 2006). American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. ISBN 9781135578787 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "Papers from the Fourth and Fifth Annual Meetings, Gypsy Lore Society, North American Chapter". 1985 – via
  14. ^ Reference Library of European America: Ethnic essays, Acadians to Hungarian Americans. Gale Research. July 30, 1998. ISBN 9780787629663 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Hancock 2002, p. xx: ‘While a nine-century removal from India has diluted Indian biological connection to the extent that for some Romani groups, it may be hardly representative today, Sarren (1976:72) concluded that we still remain together, genetically, Asian rather than European’
  16. ^ a b Mendizabal, Isabel; et al. (6 December 2012). "Reconstructing the Population History of European Romani from Genome-wide Data". Current Biology. 22 (24): 2342–9. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.10.039. PMID 23219723.
  17. ^ a b Sindya N. Bhanoo (11 December 2012). "Genomic Study Traces Roma to Northern India". New York Times.
  18. ^ Current Biology.
  19. ^ a b c K. Meira Goldberg; Ninotchka Devorah Bennahum; Michelle Heffner Hayes (2015-09-28). Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives. p. 50. ISBN 9780786494705. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  20. ^ a b Simon Broughton; Mark Ellingham; Richard Trillo (1999). World Music: Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Rough Guides. p. 147. ISBN 9781858286358. Retrieved 2016-04-28. Roma Rajastan Penjab.
  21. ^ Šebková, Hana; Žlnayová, Edita (1998), Nástin mluvnice slovenské romštiny (pro pedagogické účely) (PDF), Ústí nad Labem: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity J. E. Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem, p. 4, ISBN 978-80-7044-205-0, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04
  22. ^ Hübschmannová, Milena (1995). "Romaňi čhib – romština: Několik základních informací o romském jazyku". Bulletin Muzea Romské Kultury. Brno: Muzeum romské kultury (4/1995). Zatímco romská lexika je bližší hindštině, marvárštině, pandžábštině atd., v gramatické sféře nacházíme mnoho shod s východoindickým jazykem, s bengálštinou.
  23. ^ "5 Intriguing Facts About the Roma". Live Science.
  24. ^ Rai, N; Chaubey, G; Tamang, R; Pathak, AK; Singh, VK (2012), "The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations", PLOS ONE, 7 (11): e48477, Bibcode:2012PLoSO...748477R, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477, PMC 3509117, PMID 23209554
  25. ^ "Can Romas be part of Indian diaspora?". 29 February 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  26. ^ "The Lion and the Unicorn". Department of English, Brooklyn College. July 30, 1987 – via Google Books.
  27. ^ Powell, John (July 30, 2009). Encyclopedia of North American Immigration. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438110127 – via Google Books.
  28. ^ The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery, Volume 1; Volume 7 By Junius P. Rodriguez
  29. ^ "Gypsies in the United States". Migrations in History. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
  30. ^ Rodriguez, Junius P. (February 1, 1997). The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780874368857 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ "Tap Roots : Mark Knowles : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming". Internet Archive.
  32. ^ Powell, John (February 1, 2009). Encyclopedia of North American Immigration. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438110127 – via Google Books.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Welch, Rosanne (June 27, 2016). Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture. McFarland. ISBN 9780786479238 – via Google Books.
  35. ^ Achim, Viorel (January 1, 2004). The Roma in Romanian History. Central European University Press. ISBN 9789639241848 – via Google Books.
  36. ^ a b "Gypsy and Traveler Culture in America". Gypsy Lore Society.
  37. ^ ""Gypsies" in the United States". Retrieved 2020-04-02.

Further reading

  • Gropper, Rena C., and Carol Miller. “Exploring New Worlds in American Romani Studies: Social and Cultural Attitudes among the American Macvaia.” Romani Studies 11, no. 2 (2001): 81–110.
  • Heimlich, Evan. "Romani Americans." in Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2014), pp. 1-13. Online
  • Marafioti, Oksana. American Gypsy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012).
  • Sinclair, Albert Thomas (1917). George Fraser Black (ed.). American Gypsies. New York Public Library. Retrieved 24 April 2014. New York Public Library.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Sinclair, Albert Thomas (1915). George Fraser Black (ed.). An American-Romani Vocabulary (reprint ed.). New York public library. Retrieved 24 April 2014. New York Public Library.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Sutherland, Anne. “The American Rom: A Case of Economic Adaptation.” in Gypsies, Tinkers and Other Travellers, edited by Farnham Rehfisch, (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975). pp 1–40.
  • Sutherland, Anne. Gypsies: The Hidden Americans (Tavistock Publications, 1975).
  • Sway, Marlene. Familiar Strangers: Gypsy Life in America (University of Illinois Press, 1988).

External links

This page was last edited on 16 September 2020, at 19:31
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