Skip to main content

For Roma Families, a Racist Myth Returns with a Vengeance

Jim Goldston
Still image from “Imagine Your Child Taken. Because of the Way You Look.” What if you were walking down the street with your child, and a police officer stopped you and accused you of kidnapping because your child did not look like you. That is what happened to Roma families in Greece and Ireland this week. 

News of a little blond girl allegedly abducted by a Roma couple in Greece dominated headlines this week. The hysteria that ensued was shocking, playing on medieval myths and racist stereotypes.

“What we have seen to date is rumor run amok and an absence of political leadership,” said Jim Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Police in Greece raided Roma settlements, thugs in Serbia tried to take away a Roma child whose skin was lighter than his father, and in Ireland, authorities removed two blond, blue-eyed children from their families.

It now turns out that the children in question were Roma and not kidnapped as first claimed.

These incidents highlight how far we have to go before Roma are accepted as full members of society. All it took was a single story for people to vilify 12 million Europeans.

Watch more of our conversation with Jim Goldston above.

At Open Society is a video series highlighting the people and ideas that are inspiring our work—and changing the world.

Read more

Subscribe to updates about Open Society’s work around the world

By entering your email address and clicking “Submit,” you agree to receive updates from the Open Society Foundations about our work. To learn more about how we use and protect your personal data, please view our privacy policy.