Intellectuals, broadcasters and cultural figures from Hungary’s Roma community are using the airwaves to amplify the voices of the country’s largest minority group and redefine stories.
Radio Dikh – a Romantic word meaning “to see” – has been broadcast on FM radio in the Hungarian capital Budapest since January. Its 11 programs focus on Roma music, culture and the issues facing their community, and aim to recreate the way the wider society understands an often disadvantaged minority group.
One show’s co-host Bettina Poxai said, “Roma people in general are not adequately represented in the mainstream media … and even if they do, it is often not showing the correct picture or picture that the Roma community is. right for.” which focuses on social issues.
Radio Vikh, he said, “is to give a voice to the Roma people and make sure that our voice is present in the media as well and it paints a picture that we are satisfied with.”
Some estimates suggest that the number of Roma in Hungary is about one million, or about 10% of the population. Like their counterparts throughout Europe, many Roma of Hungary are often the subject of social and economic exclusion, and face discrimination, segregation and poverty.
Stereotypes are added to their marginalization about Roma’s roles in society, where they are often associated with their traditional occupations as musicians, dancers, merchants and craftsmen that go back centuries.
These expectations have limited opportunities for Roma people – especially Roma women – to participate in other fields and develop their skills, said Szandi Minjari, host of a women’s radio program.
“We are stereotyped by the majority because they believe that we are great at singing, dancing, speaking about girls’ subjects, and raising children, and that is us. But it is too much,” Minjari said.
Programming specifically for women runs for two hours each day, and Minjari’s show “Zsa Shez” – meaning “Let’s Go, Girls” in Romantic language – focuses on current events and global topics such as climate change and other social issues. Is.
Many women in traditional Roma families are highly dependent on male members of the family, Minjari said, and engaging them in conversations about topics of public interest serves as an inspiration for them to engage with a different world. .
“We find it very important to speak about heavy topics… because we are so much more than speaking about nail polish and hairdos and Botox,” she said, adding that she wanted female listeners to conclude that “ The problem isn’t me. I want more out of life and these girls are doing it, and so can I.”
Radio Dikh’s motto, “About Roma, not just for Roma”, reflects the hosts’ conviction that the station can act as a bridge between Roma and non-Roma Hungarians and break those narratives. that link their community to poverty and other social issues. problem.
In addition to co-hosting her own show, Poksai in her spare time guides informational tours in Budapest aimed at correcting misconceptions about the Roma people for both Hungarian and foreign tourists. In the city’s 8th district, which has a high concentration of Roma residents, Poxai gave a presentation to a group of visitors from the United States.
Introducing more than 600 years of history and challenging preconceptions of the Roma in Hungary, Poxai said that he aims to ensure that future generations of the Hungarian Roma do not have to go through the challenges they faced as a child. did.
“I want to change how Roma people are viewed in society,” Poxai said. “I want to make sure that the Roma community has shed enough light on the values that have been imparted to non-Roma society through history.”