In 1939, amid the Great Depression, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt met with Roma leader Steve Kaslov in New York City to discuss how the crisis had affected Romani Americans. In her diary, she wrote: “They are a sad people and a minority group I feel we should try to help.” That was a historic and very rare expression of White House concern for the struggles of Romani Americans.
Today, as a new Democratic administration is about to take over amid another crisis, Romani American activists hope that the issue of discriminations the community has been facing for decades will finally be addressed.
With US Romani advocacy and scholarship still in their early stages of development, calls for anti-discrimination action go unheard by state institutions. Even organisations dedicated to human rights and civil liberties lack awareness about Romani Americans’ struggles and do little to address anti-Roma bias.