Years of persecution have led the Roma people to become hidden figures throughout society. Mothers have gone unnoticed, children have gone uneducated and the increase in poverty has left Roma communities hopeless towards ever reaching the equality that they desire. Roma people have commonly been coined as the “gypsies” or “pickpocketers” who are unworthy of the rights that are shared by their native counterparts. This has caused Roma communities to succumb to societal discrimination, placing them into illegitimate housing camps that lack necessary resources and means for survival. Originating from Northern India, Roma settlers began migrating to Europe over 900 years ago. The early migrants came through the Balkans and into Romania, where they have settled for several decades comprising 12% of the population. In 2007, as a result of Romania’s admission into the European Union, many Roma communities began to leave the country and move throughout Europe with the hopes of creating new life and greater opportunities. Although their intention was prosperity, their assimilation into new territories was met with isolation. Today, the struggle continues as the Roma fight for their rights to be included as worthy citizens in the global community.
Since 2007, one of the largest Roma communities has resided in Southern Italy. An estimated 150,000 Roma have spread across the country into camps closest to the cities of Naples and Rome. Due to the influx of the Roma people into the cities, many have had a difficult time in finding proper or attainable housing. This has caused Roma communities to move into illegal campgrounds, prone to high crime rates and unstable living conditions. Due to the external factors that have casted negative images of the Roma people, many Italian citizens have become hostile towards these communities causing internal disputes over the direction that the nation should take in addressing these concerns. A 2008 study revealed that 68% of Italians wanted more policies in place that restricted Roma settlers from coming into the country. These sentiments have caused Italians to fear Roma communities for the uncertainties that inclusion could bring and the implications that it could have on nationalism.
While the debate continues on about the inclusion or exclusion of the Roma population, a greater lesson is to be learned from this example: globalization is a newly developing and complex process. There is no right or wrong answer when evaluating globalization, but it is important to address that globalization produces change, which invokes uncertainty. In turn, that uncertainty spreads further as a once separated world of distinct nation states becomes a borderless global community of integrated ideologies.
While change is a justifiable fear to have, it is one that must be accepted and embraced for the possibilities that it can bring. To ostracize a new culture or tradition on the basis of fear neglects to see the benefits that new ideas and experiences can have for individuals and nations as a whole. Diversity in thought challenges tradition and brings about a culture of inclusive intersectionality that better helps identify some of the world’s greatest problems. In viewing globalization in this way, one can better understand that the rights of individuals who become the hidden figures within societies such as the Roma people in Italy.
However, with this change, one must also understand the transition that is needed for a culture to move away from traditional nationalism and towards globalization. Italy, for example, has been a country rooted in traditional norms and for centuries these norms have governed Italian society. Due to the many standards of tradition that have gone unchanged, it is hard to criticize the nation as a whole for not immediately accepting that globalization has already begun to take shape. Rather, it should be understood that new cultures and traditions require time to adjust to change. Instead of condemning nations for fearing the uncertainty of change, it is the responsibility of the international community to educate those who are skeptical of the benefits that globalization and acceptance can have. By increasing international support and through promoting education for change, one can better establish tangible solutions for how individuals and cultures can unite more closely as one. To understand Italy’s Roma population, one must also understand Italians. With this, individuals can better grasp the realities that globalization has for both sides, which can merge differences and invite into conversation the difficulties that are faced in cultural integration.