Aaron: So I'm here today with Sherrie Smith, a Romani Gypsy activist and campaigner who's now working in higher education.

Sherrie Smith: Hi Aaron, how're you doing?

Aaron: Yeah, I'm very well, thanks. How are you Sherrie?

Sherrie Smith: Yeah, I'm good thanks. Thanks for asking me on.

Aaron: So how would you describe what you do in 15 words or less?

Sherrie Smith: I am a gypsy, challenging inequalities and prejudice to my people in any way that I can.

Aaron: And what advice would you give to a 10-year-old you?

Sherrie Smith: Tomorrow's the first day of the rest of your life. I say that to my children all the time. You know, I was a florist up until a few years ago and before that I was a barmaid. And now I'm working for a university. Tomorrow morning, you go and make the change and be what you want to be.

Aaron: Of all the achievements that you've kind of outlined, what would you say you're most proud of?

Sherrie Smith: I'm most proud of the growth of the acknowledgement of the Roma Holocaust in the UK. It's not solely down to me at all. There's been many people putting in a lot of work for the last four years, I've taken a youth group to Auschwitz as part of my work. And that's been wonderful to see those young people, young Gypsies, Roma and Travellers come back, share the knowledge, but also watch them grow as activists and campaigners.

Aaron: And is there anything that you'd like to achieve which you haven't yet?

Sherrie Smith: Enough achievement will be for me if my grandchildren can grow up and say my Nan was a gypsy, and not have to hide that fact. I'd just like for us not to be ostracised.

Aaron: If there's one injustice you could put right immediately in the UK right now? What would it be and why?

Sherrie Smith: The difference between rich and poor. Because I don't think it matters how hard you work unless you're lucky, the difference is massive. And even if you're a rich Gypsy, your life is different to that of a poor working-class Gypsy, and I just think the odds are stacked against you in every way, I think that needs evening up.

Aaron: Do you have any ideas about how to, you know, heal the divisions in society right now?

Sherrie Smith: I think the main thing we need to do is start listening to the truth and not media. The way it portrays people, it's mind tricks to persuade the general public. People believe what they read, they don't research. And so there has to be some responsibility there.

Aaron: I know there's a lot of issues in terms of reporting on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. I wonder if you have any thoughts about what can be done to address that so that the media can get it right. What do you think needs to be done about that?

Sherrie Smith: It's about the portrayal. It's about their language. It's about the kind of stories that they publish. It's about dehumanising us and not using capitals for our words. We are an ethnic minority. It's like trivialising us. We're not caricatures and we don't want to be portrayed like that.

Aaron: That's great. Well, yeah, thank you very much for your time.

Sherrie Smith: All right. Thanks a lot. Bye bye.

Sherrie Smith: ‘I’m A Gypsy – I Want My Grandchildren To Be Proud Of That Fact’

Published on 18 Mar 2020

This is our very first Big Questions in video form! We spoke to Romany Gypsy activist and campaigner Sherrie Smith about her life and accomplishments and negative stereotypes of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community.

This video features the highlights of our interview (perfect for reading on a lunch break!), but you can read the full interview on our website.

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