BUDAPEST, Hungary – Hungarian Roma intellectuals, broadcasters and cultural figures are using the airwaves to redefine and elevate the voices of the country’s largest minority group.
“Usually the Roma people are under-represented in the mainstream media… and even if they do, it often does not show the right picture or the true picture for the Roma community,” said Betina Poksai, co-host of the show, which focuses on social issues.
On the radio side, he said, “providing the voice of Roma and ensuring that our voice is also present in the media and it shows a picture that we are satisfied with.”
Some estimates suggest that the number of Roma in Hungary is about 1 million, or about 10% of the population. Like their counterparts across Europe, many Roma in Hungary are often subject to social and economic exclusion and face inequality, isolation and poverty.
Their polarity has been added to Roma’s role in society, where they are often associated with their traditional occupations as musicians, dancers, merchants and artisans that date back centuries.
Sajandi Minzari, host of the women’s radio program, said these expectations limited the opportunities for Roma people – especially Roma women – to participate and develop their skills in other areas.
“We are stereotyped by the majority because they believe we are very good at singing, dancing, talking about girls and raising kids, and that’s what we are. But it’s much more, “said Minzari.
Programming for women in particular runs two hours a day, and Minzari’s show “Zsa Shej” – meaning “let’s go, girls” in Romanian – focuses on current events and global issues such as climate change and other social issues.
Many women in traditional Roma families are highly dependent on male family members, Minzari said, and including them in conversations about matters of public interest means acting as an inspiration for them to be involved in a different world.
“We think it’s very important to talk about heavy issues … because we have so much more to say about nail polish and hairdo and Botox,” she said, adding that she wants female listeners to conclude that “the problem is not mine.” .I want more from life and these girls are doing it and I can do it too. “
The radio’s motto, “About Roma, not just for Roma,” reflects the hosts’ firm belief that the station could act as a bridge between Roma and non-Roma Hungarians and break their community’s tendency to live in poverty and with others. Social problems.
In addition to co-hosting his own show, Poksai also guided an informative tour of Budapest during his leisure time aimed at correcting misconceptions about the Roma people to Hungarian and foreign tourists. In the city’s 8th district, which has a high concentration of Roma residents, Poksai gave a presentation to a group of visitors from the United States.
Introducing the more than 600-year-old history and challenging preconceptions of Roma in Hungary, Poksai said he wanted to make sure that future generations of Hungarian Roma would not have to go through the challenges he faced as a child.
“I want to change the way Roma people are viewed in society,” Poksai said. “I want to make sure that there is enough light on the values that the Roma community has given to non-Roma society through history.”