There are two wrong arguments about Roma identity. The first one claims using the name Roma instead of the word Gypsy on account of the fact that the word Gypsy (Cigany) is pejorative. Supporters of the idea believe that if the word Gypsy is forgotten, prejudices about Roma people and the others who are being identified as Gypsy will disappear. Supporters of the other wrong argument define Roma identity is a fabrication which was maden up in the first World Roma Congress in 1971. They
Both of the arguments are completely wrong. The name Roma can not be used instead of the word Gypsy. Gypsy (Cigany) is the common denotation of the peoples, who have been obligated to subsist on serving some services and producing some craft productions on account of the fact that lands, herds and forestal areas they had were captured, in Balkans, Anatolia, Central Asia and some parts of Middle East. Roma are among the various Gypsy peoples living all around the world. Roma have their own language Romanes and their own history. Identifying other Gypsy peoples, who have never spoken Romanes and whose culture is not a product of the Roma history, as Roma is as nonsense as defining German as British. On the other hand, using the name Roma to escape from discriminative prejudices which are believed to be uploaded to the word Gypsy is also useless. Because people we live together for hundreds of years know very well that the word Gypsy have been used to define Roma and they have same prejudices about the ones who define themselves as Roma. Namechanging is not a way of overcoming prejudices. There is only one way to overcome prejudices: We have to represent ourselves better.
The others claim that Roma identity is fabricated in the first World Roma Congress in 1971. There were no independent Roma identity before the congress according to them. There are too many proof to refute the argument. First of all, Romanes speaking Gypsies know that their ancestors were defining themselves as Roma before the congress. The name of their language, Romanes, proves clearly that there were also Roma before the congress. There are also some written proofs about the issue.
These sentences are written in the novel of Osman Cemal Kaygılı named "Gypsies (Çingeneler)" which have been accepted as a documental source about Turkish Gypsies:
"Our real origin is Rom. And the language we speak is Romanes (Romca)."
Existence of these sentences in a book which was published in 1939 clearly shows that there were Gypsies defining themselves as Rom before the congress in 1971. The word Rom is got involved in Turkish as Roman in time. Similarly, existence of some Romanes sentences and words in the writings of Evliya Çelebi dated to 17th century refutes the arguments that Roma identity is fabrication. Roma are among rooted Balkan nations unequivocally.
The word Gypsy is the common denovation of peoples who share the same victimhood all around the world. These peoples lost the sources which they need to subsist on agriculture, herding, hunting and gathering they had before. This is the reason why they have been prisoned to live under the conditions of extreme poverty. Roma are among Gypsy people living all around the world. If we understand this perspective, we will be able to find applicaple solutions for contemporary problems of our people without refusing Roma or Gypsy identity.