MOHA Presentation IV
Presentation IV: Romani Voices Defy Stereotyping
Abstract: To help dispel prejudice and racial profiling in the United States, I will share stories from Hungarian Slovak Romanies in Michigan in the greater social/historical context. As an ‘under-represented’ marginalized community, Romanies have been silenced, censored and/or disrespected in communities throughout the world and specifically Michigan. Once we establish trust with the ‘other,’ he/she is no longer a member of a group but is a human just like each of us with a unique personality, social identity and history. Romanies who shared their own stories, not filtered through other voices, provide a different narrative and defy stereotypes from newspapers, police reports and laws dating back to the nineteenth century. The Hungarian Slovak Romanies, whose ancestors immigrated to the United States in the late 19th and up to the mid-20th century, have a long history as musicians who performed their traditional music and then jazz to adapt to the changing demands.
Martha Bloomfield is an award-winning author, oral historian and artist, who has written several books about immigrants, migrants and other marginalized peoples to help dissipate prejudice based on oral histories. Internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker Jacky Comforty wrote The Stolen Narrative of the Bulgarian News and the Holocaust with Martha Bloomfield published by Rowman and Littlefield in their series Lexington Studies in Jewish Literature (2021). Martha’s first book, The Sweetness of Freedom, Stories of Immigrants (co-author, Steve Ostrander) (Michigan State University Press (MSU), 2010) based on oral histories won a national IPPY Award (an Independent Publisher Book Award, Silver Medal for Multicultural Adult Non-Fiction) and a Michigan Notable Book Award, 2011. Her other books also published by MSU Press based on oral histories include My Eyes Feel They Need to Cry, Stories from the Formerly Homeless (2013); Hmong Americans in Michigan, (2014); and Romanies in Michigan (2019). Her website is: marthabloomfield.com
Facilitated by: Cameron Michael Amin, Professor of History, University of Michigan-Dearborn and Brittany Fremion, Associate Professor of History, Central Michigan University.