We-mix culture: Are "gaźe" (non-Gypsy ppl) friends or enemies?
This is one of the challenging questions that was raised by our users after the release of the first Kaskosan.com videos back in 2009.
We used Roma/Gypsy celebrities in the videos to get messages out and to recruit users.
One idea behind building the social network was to reveal the cultural assets Roma/Gypsy ppl consider a secret code and to share concrete stories where some members managed to successfully engage with the gaźe, non-Roma ppl.
So Kis Grofo (Little Grofo) is a 17 year old male Roma singer from Szolnok, countryside of Hungary. At the age of 16 he already had several millions of views of YouTube although very few mainstream ppl was familiar with his music at that point.
In one of our earlier videos (the first video in this mission report) we posted Kis Grofo a question whether he has Hungarian or only Roma friends in school and he said he had both Roma and non-Roma friends.
Many of his fans challenged him saying that gaźe hate Gypsies and that 'our #1 celebrity' shouldn't make friends with ppl who come against us.
With Little Grofo coming in with his replies we opened up a new space of discussion where the end result was that users agreed to keep the site registration open to anyone, so today anyone interested in meeting local young Roma, or is interested in getting acquainted with Rromani culture is warmly welcome to register.
So we learned that musicians can be powerful peer-influencers among the Roma communities too!
This is an attitude we believe will have to proliferate across all Romany communites. If we want to be accepted by the 'others', then we're gonna have to make the first steps in opening doors to our cultural values so the outsiders can better understand our reactions, our behavior and the cultural, social and political phenomena related to Roma/Gypsy people.
Although Facebook has won the battle of social networking and therefore we are now looking at converting the social networking platform to a music platform. We're having issues with identifying the necessary funds to achieve the development goals but we're not giving up of course. Any ideas are warmly welcome!
We also started identifying the successful non-Roma stories where non-Roma managed to engage with the Roma people. We are aiming to build a community of pro-Roma thinkers and believers where it's not your ethnicity that counts but your engagement to help Roma people advance with integration.
So the new mission with Kaskosan.com is to go for building a community of Roma friends and not continue building a community of Roma enemies. Tupac's 'You ain't never had a friend like me' is very popular among young Roma too :)
Today we have 30K signups from all over the world and thus this is the largest Roma community in the online world today.
Actually the interactions we've been having on Kaskosan.com inspired my music with Gypsy Magic City. You can listen to some of my tracks and watch the first video released on this page: http://www.facebook.com/GypsyMagicCity/app_2405167945