This life has been firing missiles at us for so long we have become
We have experiences that have made us strong. This is the moment we are
We don’t fall to our knees, we are unafraid of anything, because we are
The refrain of the song ‘Invincible’ by rapper P.A.T. is unfortunately relevant to the recent tragic event in Chomutov, in which a thirty-four-year old Roma was shot for racist reasons. As an abstract metaphor this text approximates to the thinking of Afrofuturism, a movement that arose in the mid-twentieth century and remains as pertinent today.
Afrofuturism depicts a situation in which Afro-Americans only find justice in a cosmic diaspora beyond planet Earth.
This sci-fi scenario was a vision of hope and consolation in the face of ‘white’ oppression.
In the debate we shall examine to what extent the Afrofuturistic concept applies to the Roma people and what aspects of the liberation history of Afro-Americans might inspire us today.
We want to speak of the history of the Roma nation and attempts to rewrite our own history from emancipatory positions, of Roma folk literature in which the Roma is victorious within a fictive setting, and of contemporary Roma rap, which links up to the tradition of black music and by offering a resolution to the situation of Roma ethnicity aims to become an instrument of change here and now.
Ytasha L. Womack (USA) is an author, filmmaker, dancer and innovator. Her book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi and Fantasy explores black sci fi culture, bleeks, black comix, and the legacy of futurism. She is author of the critically acclaimed book Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity and Rayla 2212. She is also the coeditor of the hip hop anthology Beats, Rhyme & Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip Hop. Her films include Love Shorts (writer/producer) and The Engagement (director). Her film Bar Star City (director/writer) goes into production this year. Ytasha is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and studied media management at Columbia College in Chicago. She resides in Chicago.
Edita Stejskalová (CZ) studied political science, social policy and social work at Masaryk University in Brno. She has long been involved with Romany issues. In 2006, she founded the civic association Zvůle Práva, which helps victims of discrimination. The organisation is also involved in the Together to School project, which sought to prevent Roma children being wrongly placed in special schools. She has been involved in countless organisations and movements. In 2013, she was nominated by the movement ANO as deputy minister for human rights. In 2013 she worked as advisor to the minister for regional development in the sphere of social housing. At present she is head of social services with the NGO Centrom in Ostrava and works externally with the Brussels-based organisation ERGO on boosting the participation of the Roma non-governmental sector within an international context.
Michal Mižigár (CZ) studied Roma affairs at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague and lectures in Roma culture and history. He is a member of the International Initiative for the Development of Ethnic Art (Miret), which supports Roma children from a disadvantaged background in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He has long been involved with the organisations Slovo 21 and the Open Society Fund in Prague on supporting Roma students at secondary schools and universities in the Czech Republic.
Jan Čonka (SK) is a businessman and founder of the internet radio station Gipsy.sk and the publishing company of the same name that released the book by Ladislav Čonka Popal Krajina Romov I. (Rómske internetové rádio, Bratislava 2014). The book is a fascinating attempt to present the Roma idea of the creation of the world in the form of myth. Thanks to his nephew and huge supporter Jan Čonka, a book was finally published after twenty years. It caught the attention of Daniela Hivešová-Šilanová, the editor of the magazine Romano nevoľil and a well known Slovak journalist and writer who made a significant contribution to the book.
Eva Danišová (CZ) is a well known writer and translator. She studied at the Evangelical Academy in Prague and at Social and Legal Secondary School. At the end of the nineties she took a course at the College of Media and Journalism in Prague. It was at that time that she began her collaboration with various Roma periodicals, and to this day she continues to translate into Romani for the monthly magazine Romano voďi / Roma Spirit. She is one of the leading translators into Romani in the Czech Republic. She was prompted to begin writing short stories by the announcement of the Milena Hübschmannová Award in 2007. Her work has appeared in the magazines AmaroLav, Romano kuko, Lačholav, Romano džaniben, Tvar, etc. She is one of the authors of the anthology of contemporary female Romany prose Slunce zapadá už ráno (published by Václav Havel Library, Prague 2014).
P.A.T: aka Pouličný Autor Tonov (SK) is a rapper and member of the band MPP. He is known for his politically engaged rap, which has become important to the Roma community. Within a short time he built a reputation on the Slovak scene and elsewhere. P.A.T. is regarded as a huge talent and one of the future drivers of the development of Slovak rap. At present he is working on a solo album that will be called #E.U.R.O.P.S.K.Y.#N.E.G.E.R.# and will be released on the Pozor Records label this year. The label was created by the well known rapper Rytmus, who noticed P.A.T. and nurtured his development.
Romafuturismo is a library of Roma literature aimed at the emancipation of ethnicities and cultures experiencing discrimination. The collection of works by Roma writers arose gradually thanks to the initiative of Ladislava Gažiová, who consulted experts in Roma affairs and activists regarding the selection of works. We are mainly interested in collecting European authors, though we are planning to venture beyond the boundaries of our continent. We also want to include books on Roma culture, emancipation and postcolonial studies applicable to the particular problematic of the Roma. We regard the library as a platform for encountering cultural and political topics, presenting authors and Roma personalities, etc. The primary aim of the library is to involve the Roma community, which should become the main actors in all discussions. The library will be opened at the beginning of 2018.