Gypped? As a title? Really, Simon and Shuster?

Author Carol Higgins Clark has made a fine career writing mysteries with one-word titles, such as Mobbed, Wrecked, Cursed, Zapped, Burned, etc. Her latest book, however, is titled with an ethnic slur: Gypped. “Gypped” is a racist slur derived from the word “Gypsies” (See below), itself a negative name used for the Romani people. It implies that all Roma are venal and dishonest. Protests are following the author around the countryside as she promotes the book.

I am Romani, and I take this matter seriously; I wish the publishing industry would do the same. And I am asking for your help in getting to that point.

We trace our ancestry to India. Our people have been in diaspora since wars and disease drove our ancestors from their homes in the eleventh century. We are not laughing, and we’re not entertained, by Carol Higgins Clark’s not-so-clever word play. Known commonly as Gypsies, a name given to us by Europeans, who thought our ancestors came from Egypt, we call ourselves Roma or Romanies, names from our own language. Roma, among the world’s poorest and most oppressed minorities, today face pogroms, deportations, and a rising level of violence, including murders, from neo-Nazi groups, who have lately been heard to chant “Gypsies to the gas chambers!” at demonstrations throughout Europe, terrifying people who remember the one to two million Roma who died in the Holocaust  (called O Porrajmos in our language.)

The dangerous stereotyping of Roma/Gypsies as inherently criminal, wild, and violent, leads in the USA to Romani people being followed and harassed in stores and schools, bullied in school, and targeted in other ways by a society that uses the term “Gypsy” and its verb, “gypped,” only in a negative and harmful way.

When a popular author uses such a slur to sell her books, she singles out our people as targets. Recently, she apologized with these words:

“I am truly sorry for any offense caused by using the word ‘Gypped’ as the title of my book. It was a familiar word since childhood which no one I knew associated with its origin. Since this issue arose, I’ve asked many people who also had no idea of any negative connotation. Again, I apologize.”

That’s better than a spit in the eye, but not yet enough. I would think a famous author would check the dictionary on any word “familiar since childhood.” The list of offensive words no longer used since I was a child is very long, indeed. You can probably think of a few, thanks to the civil rights, women’s, and gay liberation movements.

An apology is one thing; repudiation is what is called for here. Rromani Zor, a civil rights group being organized for the Romani people, is calling for the publisher to recall and retitle this book, for bookstores and libraries to refuse to stock or shelve it until this happens, and for the author to support us in this effort. (Fair disclosure: I am on the board.) You can help, too. See below. 

Read about some of the ways that Roma have been the targets of discrimination here:

http://www.errc.org/article/violence-against-roma-on-the-rise-errc-testifies/3968

http://www.romea.cz/english/index.php?id=detail&detail=2007_1787

http://racerelations.about.com/od/diversitymatters/a/Five-Terms-You-Might-Not-Know-Are-Considered-Racist_2.htm

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT GYPPED

Help us get this book pulled from libraries and bookstores, and retitled, at the very least, by its publisher, the venerable Simon and Shuster, who should know better!

Here’s how you can help:

1.  Leave the author a comment on her web page at

http://carolhigginsclark.com/contact/

or on her Facebook page:

 https://www.facebook.com/carolhigginsclark

2. If you can help with informational pickets to spread information about why the word “gypped” is an ethnic slur, please contact Rromani Zor at com.romanizor@gmail.com for materials that can be easily copied.

3. If you can’t make the event but would like to let the bookstore/library know how you feel, please use the contact information below each event.

April 24, 2012

Book Soup

 

EVENT DETAILS

Apr 24, 2012

7:00 pm

Book Soup

8818 Sunset Blvd.

W. Hollywood, CA

Phone 310-659-3110

Leave a comment on the bookstore’s Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Book-Soup/20677614081

April 26, 2012

Mysterious Galaxy

 

EVENT DETAILS

Apr 26, 2012

7:00 pm

Mysterious Galaxy

7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite 302

San Diego, CA

Phone 858-268-4747

Leave a comment on the bookstore’s Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/MysteriousGalaxy?sk=wall

 

April 28, 2012

 

EVENT DETAILS

Apr 28, 2012

9:00 am

Wegman’s Market

2100 Marlton Pike W

Chery Hill, NJ

Phone: (856) 488-2700

Also April 28, 2012

Carol Higgins Clark will be the speaker at the annual Friends of Doylestown Library’s Luncheon at Warrington Country Club on 4/28/12. Tickets are $40 each and will be on sale at the library on April 2-7 for members of the Friends group & from April 9-23 for the general public.EVENT DETAILS

Apr 28, 2012

12:00 pm — 2:00 pm

Bucks County Library Center

150 South Pine Street

Doylestown, PENNSYLVANIA 18901

(215) 348-9081

buckslib.org/

Leave a copy on the library’s Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bucks-County-Free-Library/140988763365

You may also leave comments on the book’s Amazon page at

http://www.amazon.com/Gypped-ebook/dp/B005GG0MV0

4. Ask your local bookstore or library not to stock this book:

Product Details

Scribner, April 2012

Hardcover, 224 pages

ISBN-10: 1439170312

ISBN-13: 9781439170311

 

5. Ask the publisher, Simon and Shuster, to recall and retitle the work.

 

Toll free: (866) 248-3049

 

Leave them a comment on their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Simonandschuster

Who is ripped off by Gypped?

1gyp noun \ˈjip\. . .Definition of GYP. . .2 a : cheat, swindler b : fraud, swindle

 

Origin of GYP

probably short for gypsy

First Known Use: 1750

 

2gyp verb  gyppedgyp·ping Definition of GYP: cheat

 

Synonyms: beat, bilk, bleed, cheat, chisel. . .victimize. . . .

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/

 

1.

gyp

 

 

A ripoff; something that is not worth what your are giving for it; referring to gypsies who make their living off of swindling others.

this add a video

2.

gyp

 

 

To be ripped off, or to get a bad deal.

“I spent $500.00 more than I should have for that lemon…I got gypped!”

share this add a video

3.

gyp

 

 

A derogatory term insinuating that Gypsies steal.

Man, you gyped me

 

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gyp

Gypsy is the name given to Roma since they appeared in Europe in the thirteenth century, refugees from the widespread warfare that had overtaken their native India as part of the expansion of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Europeans took these newcomers from the East for Egyptians (Egyptian, Egipcian, ‘gypcian, ‘gipcian, gipsy, gypsy) , and feared them because they were not Christians, they had no homeland, and their experiences with slavery and brutal oppression on their path westward had caused them to shun non-Romanies. Laws were passed forcing the Gypsies to move onward, at times penalizing them for their presence with death orders, and forbidding education and employment to the living. This unreasonable hatred culminated in the murder of more than one millions Gypsies/Roma by the Nazis. And the misconceptions and oppression have continued: Today the Roma are Europe’s poorest minority, and neo-Nazis are screaming in the streets of Eastern Europe, “Gypsies to the gas chamber!” In some countries, they are allowed to live only in undesirable areas such as refuse dumps, and they are forcibly deported when they try to find better homes.

To use the word “Gypped” is to feed the stereotypes and hatred!

 For more information, contact:

Gypsies are NOT

  • a lifestyle
  • a set of behaviors
  • a mythical people
  • happy wanderers

We are

  • an ethnic group of Asian Indian origin
  • present on all continents since our diaspora began in the eleventh century
  • organizing
  • claiming our right to be free of racial stereotypes

 

 

HELP US END THE USE OF RACIAL SLURS!

Carol Higgins Clark can repudiate the word “Gypped”

and speak to her publisher about retitling it.

Simon and Shuster can recall and retitle this book.

Bookstores and libraries can refuse to stock or shelve this book

until its title is corrected.

You, the patron, can refuse to buy until it is retitled.

Everyone has the right to say what they want.

We have the right to be offended and outraged.

Our people who even today are facing pogroms,

neo-Nazi death squads, and more hatred

have the right to live and prosper in peace. 

Help us!

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Comments

  • sshaver  On May 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I had no idea it all started in India.

    • Glenda Bailey-Mershon  On May 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Most people probably don’t. It seems the stereotypes speak louder than we do. But I think that is changing. Certainly, our tolerance for this kind of exploitation is changing.

      Our language shares roots with Hindu and Urdu. A good book is We Are the Romani People by Ian Hancock.

  • Helena Alexander  On June 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I have just posted on Ms. Higgins’s FB wall. This is unacceptable and I sincerely hope the title will be changed.

    • Glenda Bailey-Mershon  On June 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Helena, Thank you for commenting on her site; I’m sure it was noted. Other comments have been removed, as well, including mine. I do note that the author seems to have ceased holding readings at bookstores and thus isn’t promoting this book with much enthusiasm. At least, the last few times I checked, she had no readings scheduled. I assume that may be because she received a challenging reception in her first California reading from our supporters. At least she did have the grace to apologize for her title, but the Romani young people who will find it glaring at them from library shelves won’t know that. It is the publisher, Simon & Shuster, who can remove or change that title, and that is why I took them to task on my blog. I and others have written to them; to my knowledge they have not yet replied. Thanks again for your support on this issue.

  • Helena Alexander  On June 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    And the post was gone within seconds…. One cannot have any respect for such authors.

  • Will  On April 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    As a man of Romani descent, I have realized that in the US the fight to end the use of the word gypped is futile. Hell, spell-check recognizes it as a word but doesn’t recognize antiziganism. So rather than keep up the good fight I’ve made an ultimatum with the world. I’ll stop saying “retarded”, “Jewed”, “Indian-giver”, and “gay”, just as soon as I don’t hear gypped on sitcoms.

    • Glenda Bailey-Mershon  On April 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Will, I understand your frustrations. I, too, am tired of hearing such insults to our people spoken so casually and persistently. But I don’t think we can persecute other people with insults; it’s not the fault of Jews or Indians or developmentally disabled, and gay is not a bad word and is in use within the lgbt community. But now I just call a bigot those who use such words (I know you’re giving examples, not using those words against people), and if they don’t want to be called bigots, they can stop. We all can choose to learn to do better.

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