I am not a racist, but...

by Denisa Morongová on March 2, 2015 - 6:55am

Quite common sentence when Czechs talk about minorities living in their (mine, as well) country. Of course, you are not a racist, you just want everyone who do not speak the same language, do not look same or whatever to leave your country. If you are not a tourist, take your bags and go away!

In the Czech Republic there are fourteen official certified minorities – Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Polish, Slovak, Serbian, Roma, Ruthenian, Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Belarussian. [1] The biggest hatred in Czech society I see against Roma people. In the census from 2011 just 0.12% (12.953) citizens of the Czech Republic said that their nationality is Roma [2, p. 11], however, the number of people in this minority is higher, likely; it can increase to three hundred thousand [3]. And it is quite lots of people. Lots of people to know somebody of them and maybe somebody who is bad, but also a lots of people to nobody be the same, good/bad/whatever.

While some high level politicians figured in corruption scandals and connections between business and politics are still alive, people turn their attention rather to benefits receivers, who get more money. The bad, angry mood flies around every time when people talk about this topic.

The leaders of our country know about this social issue, of course, and it exists The Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs by the government [4]. One of the last document this Commission made, is called “Strategie romské integrace do roku 2020” (The Strategy for Roma Integration by 2020). The aim of this strategy is to obviate negative trends in the situation of Roma inhabitants in the Czech Republic, especially, in education, employment or living conditions, and also to boost Roma’s culture and language. [2, p. 2]

One of the most important factors (maybe THE most important) for better coexisting is education – among Roma people as well as among Czechs (to learn about tolerance, differences...). Although the education rate among Czech pupils, students, adults is much higher. According to the FRA’s (the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) Roma Survey 2011, there is still around 1 % Romas who was never in education system. Fortunately, the number is decreases by age, thus, the situation will be better. However, still 52 percent of them left school before the age of 16, among non-Romas it is eight percent. [5]

The vision of the new strategy is to equalize the education rate among Roma and non-Roma citizens and to support ambitious Roma students; an idea of fair education, which means that some level of knowledge and skills should be reached for everybody and the society should help with this achieving. The very important issue for integration to a (minority) society is the preschool education. However, to find any place for a child in a state kindergarten, which is affordable, is difficult in the Czech Republic nowadays. Thus, more kindergartens, preparatory classes, some financial benefits are the solutions and challenges. On the other side, the preparatory classes should not exist in special schools anymore. Lots of Roma children go to this type of school (in the Czech Republic it is called “practical school), although, they are not intellectual disabled. Nevertheless, once they are in the system, it is hard to leave. [2, p. 36-38]

In the strategy there is also an idea of extending the compulsory education – vocational school without A levels. There are also many scholarship programmes for socially disadvantaged children and youth, which should be better used. The help by studying solves not just money, but also tutoring. The low-educated group of adults should feel also support. The programmes for people, who do not work for more than five years, add new knowledge and skills (e. g. in the Czech language and communication technologies) and remind the old one. [2, p. 38-40]

Well, we have the strategy now. We know what we should do and what we want to achieve. However, the strategy cannot be solving just among this Commission and some experts. It should be known by whole society and everybody has to participate (not to be a racist, at least). Because the biggest challenge does not lie in pointing out the problem and finding some solutions, but observe it.



[1] http://www.vlada.cz/en/ppov/rnm/historie-a-soucasnost-rady-en-16666/, 27/02/2015.

[2] Vláda ČR. Strategie romské integrace do roku 2020. 2014. From: http://www.vlada.cz/cz/ppov/zalezitosti-romske-komunity/aktuality/strategie-romske-integrace-do-roku-2020-118736/, 28/02/2015.

[3] http://romove.radio.cz/cz/clanek/18884, 28/02/2015.

[4] http://www.vlada.cz/en/ppov/zalezitosti-romske-komunity/the-council-for-roma-community-affairs--50634/, 28/02/2015.

[5] http://fra.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-and-maps/survey-data-explorer-results-2011-roma-survey, 28/02/2015.


Hi! I find your article really interesting and I wanted to say that in France, Roma people are also one of the biggest hatred. They are often persecuted or even automatically “labelled” as thieves etc. It concerns all the countries of Europe, we need to develop a coherent EU framework Policy which addresses the discrimination of Roma in Europe and I agree when you write “education is one of the most important factor”.

The topic you have launched is a quite important one (for whole Europe) and is also a topic in Germany although the public discussion about Romani people is not as loud as in France or Czech, but still it exists. What you can see in the case of Romani people is how stereotypes are working in the context of ethnic group or minorities. In your article you focused mainly the educational system and the situation for Romani people. I think it could be quite interesting to have a look at the mechanisms behind. During our seminar we were talking a lot about stereotypes and how they are working in the context of gender differences and with the case of Romani people you have described I think it is possible to transfer the theories of stereotypes to ethnical minorities.