The Gypsy Controversy

So where has this "Spreading Gypsy Love" thing come from?

 

Well when I started playing music here in Australia, fans, friends, newspapers started writing about me as the "Irish Gypsy". I suppose everyone needs to be able to describe someone's essence or someone's music somehow. Is it Irish music? Not purely. Is it Gypsy Music? Not at all. But is there a spirit of freedom, colourfulness and a sense of lifestyle that is captured by those combinations of word? Yes. And in the music industry as in most art forms, people like to put you into a box and describe you, package you, and put you on a shelf and sell you as something.

The ACTUAL word Gypsy comes from a traveling European race of Roma decent and they are a downtrodden race who have suffered severe racism and the use of the term Gypsy has been used at times in history and by people with a negative connotation. There are also a race of Irish people that were displaced at the time of the famine in the 1840s who also identify as a traveling community and are referred to as Gypsies. You can search dictionaries for many more definitions but that is a brief answer.

I have now been taken to task by a group of Facebookers for being racist and using microaggression towards Gypsies for my use of the term Gypsy. Some facts I would like to clarify:
* I do not come from the Roma background or from the traveling community within Ireland. 
* In no place in my Crowdfunding Campaign do I state that I am a Gypsy. I only speak to the fact that I am a world wanderer and we all have a bit of that spirit in us and let us spread some of that Gypsy love.
* I do have a song called "Gypsy Daughter" and this is to be the title of the CD. That song is not about me personally and in that song I am not claiming to be the Daughter of a Gypsy and frankly likening it to the same as calling an album "Abbo's Daughter" is just uncalled for. Is Mama Kin's album Magician's Daughter mean that she is a magician's daughter and in some way racist towards magicians?

Now... many told me to ignore this, it's the naysayers again, but I am all for self-awareness, self-development and most certainly would not like to be offending anyone with my spreading love vibes. So I spent the day talking with family, and getting in touch with friends who are from the traveling community. I also began the researching on the internet. And here in this online world is where life and truth gets murky... one can find any argument on any side of the fence online. One can find people taking offense over anything online. People can take truth from someone just because they have a blog, people make judgements just because they read it online, and then sadly people call other people names such as a racist without looking behind the person.

So where have I come from and what is my truth on the word Gypsy? My father's side has come from settled people in the West of Ireland and my mother is American.  I have read poems, read novels, sung songs passed down through our history as Irish people endearingly speaking of Gypsies. I have sung with my father at benefits in raising awareness of equality for the traveling community in Ireland and my father has recorded on many albums in support of the traveling community. I have had members of the traveling community support and adore both my Dad's and my music over many many years, and even support this very campaign "Spreading Gypsy Love". While I consult Dr Google for many things in life, on this question of my character, I am going to defer to my family, my upbringing, and the members of the traveling community in Ireland that I have known and respected my whole life on this one and know that my use of the word Gypsy in my message is used to evoke a wandering spirit in those wishing to feel that. That is what Art does in any form, it hopes to evoke feelings in those looking for it.
 
“It is impossible to be truly artistic without the risk of offending someone somewhere.”
― Wayne Gerard Trotman.
Does Art offend, yes at times it does? And if I wasn't offending as an artist, sure as hell someone would find something that I am offending in this climate of extreme political correctness. Am I intentionally or unintentionally trying to offend, NO. I am not using the word Gypsy with any negative connotations or words associated with it. Similarly you could argue that even Irish people have been the subject of similar ethnic stereotyping and negativity within Australia... for many years we were a subclass of a race in this country and many other countries. When someone says "Hey Irish" to me here in Australia... do I automatically assume they are speaking to times when we were called Irish Pigs, No Irish need apply, or Dirty Irish Beggars? Hello no! Similarly when I use the term Gypsy in songs and otherwise, I am not eluding to any of the slurs that come with their culture! 

Does art open a conversation? Yes, I hope it damn well does. So I am happy that my crowdfunding campaign has sparked a conversation for you ladies of Facebook if nothing else. But why not spend your evenings looking for the positivity in life. Facebook, the News, the Newspapers are all so full of negativity in this world. 90% of the news we see is negative because that is what we as humans have grown accustomed to, that is what sells and so that is what the media spoon feeds us. So why try to uncover some hidden negativity when there is nothing but love in my message?  Why waste any online time promoting negativity by trying to out politically correct your friends, or trying to call out another sister who is clearly not racist, why focus on the negatives when there is so much positive in my online message and in your own beautiful lives in general?

Keep spreading that love whether it be Gypsy, Irish, Australian or otherwise and keep those positive vibes rolling!
xo Áine
 

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