“Neither a clan, nor a community.” Yoanna Rubio, author of the Glossary of preconceived ideas about gypsies: patriarch, clan, child king and doctoral student, makes a point of putting an end to prejudices about gypsy groups. Daughter of a pied-noir father and a gypsy mother, she grew up in Toulouse in a cul-de-sac with her brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, she faced racism from childhood because of her origin.

“From kindergarten, we were presented as “the little gypsies””, says the doctoral student. “It’s a racism that is very global, even in very small villages. It is something national and even international. We find this anti-Gypsyism everywhere in the world,” laments Yoanna.

The gypsies of France are often described as a nomadic community. Nonsense for Yoanna.

“The gypsies are absolutely not a nomadic people. There is mobility but among very few groups,” she specifies. “We are more about a multiplicity than a diversity of groups, the term community is very embarrassing. We go to places to get closer to family members like everywhere,” she laments.

Gypsies are called by terms that do not correspond to their identity. “Initially they were designated by exonyms like nomads, travelers, bohemians etc… But this is not a term that they chose to define themselves.”

The term “travelers” is not correct according to her, since it is an “administrative term, which is not used by travelers themselves to designate themselves.”

In terms of reception, since July 2000, the Besson law has required municipalities with at least 5,000 inhabitants to have a reception area. As of January 1, 2020, of the 34,968 municipalities listed in France, 32,787 of them had fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

“The vast majority of reception air is out of the way and polluted. We find ourselves either next to a railway, or next to a power station, or all at the same time,” laments Yoanna. Living conditions which have a disastrous consequence on the daily lives of these inhabitants. According to a study by the National School of Public Health, the lifespan of gypsies is 10 to 15 years shorter than that of non-gypsies.

Despite all the stereotypes that circulate about the gypsy people, the first is that of money. They are very often singled out, wrongly accused of “living in caravans” or even “trailers” so as not to have to pay housing tax and benefit from state aid. “The communities in the reception areas do not have the right to APL because they are considered homeless. They do not have access to common law,” she emphasizes.

Another prejudice that often comes up is the financial situation of these people.

“There are travelers who are well off but the vast majority are quite precarious. Furthermore, rents on reception areas range from 200 to 400 euros per month,” she explains.

“Those who call themselves travelers (a so-called gypsy group) experience welcoming airs at certain times of the year during their travels. The rest are either tenants or owners,” she concludes.