The Gypsy journalist
Jake Bowers the Editor of Gypsy Roma Traveller: I’m not lazy and I do not live at the back of a Wagon
By Iqbal Tamimi
Travelling the 1000 years journey
His life is always on the move like a movie star or a celebrity, if his luck was different he might have been one. Yet, he was never welcomed on red carpet. What makes Jake Bowers’s life totally different from celebrities even though he is a traveller like most of them is the fact that he is a Gypsy. He is squeezed into an uncomfortable mould made by the media for individuals of minority groups. My mould is my head scarf and Jakes’ mould is a wagon. Bowers is a Roma traveller, he is a Gypsy in peace with all the borders and boundaries, and the world is his home.
What makes this British Gypsy so different from 300,000 other UK Gypsies? Jake told me “mainstream media warned people of us, we are described as lazy, uneducated, dirty, living in wagons, criminals, not to be trusted because Gypsies kidnap children”. Bowers is a Gypsy and a talented journalist on the move. He is not lazy, since he is supporting his family, paying his taxes and has a regular job. He is not dirty; he is smart and behaved like a real gentleman at a conference where he was a guest speaker. He is not living in a wagon as far as I can see, though he told me that he enjoyed living on a moving home tied to the back of his horse. He did not give up on his caravan because he was discontent with his life style; he abandoned that home for love when his wife who came from another background found it difficult to plug in her hair drier.
Bowers drove us in his car; he used the sat navigator to find his way around Bristol, hence he does not rely on the stars to show him the way nor he uses a pack of cards to foresee the future otherwise he would have known how difficult it is to find a parking place. He is not a criminal other wise he would not have been able to become an Editor-in-Chief of the first magazine of its kind in UK. He is an educated young man who has fine taste in arts and good knowledge of societies and history that he even enlightened me about some Gypsy groups in the Middle East in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey and even in Gaza in Palestine. He can be trusted because I was introduced to him by my dearest friend Mike Jempson, an academic and a journalist who gave a great chunk of his life for investigative journalism and defending journalists’ efforts to create trade unions and groups to protect their rights around the world.
Bowers is a journalist who is fighting to fix the wrong image drawn by the media about the gypsies because they are a victimised minority and because he is one of them and he is very proud of his heritage.
UK is the home of 300,000 Gypsies yet they are not represented in the media that enjoys bullying them. That’s why he publishes the Gypsy Roma Traveller, the first Gypsies’ magazine in UK and maybe in the world, aiming to inform people about the history, life, and arts of Gypsies who are still suffering media misrepresentation like other minorities.
At the Seminar held in Bristol Wednesday 30 June, the second in a series sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council to investigate the barriers to media recruitment of Blacks and members of ethnic minorities, Bowers was a guest speaker who shared with us a slide of titles that appeared in one week only in UK mainstream media, including the widely distributed newspaper the Sun that incriminates and discriminates against Gypsies.
He also shared with the attendants’ photos and copies of posters banning the Gypsies from different places including pubs, blaming Gypsies for social problems. The point he made that the Gypsies are one of the largest minority groups in the world with a population of 12 million people, travelling 1000 years journey, who are still suffering media stereotyping. There are minority groups that are not represented at all in the media, and there are others who are misrepresented. Racism should be tackled by the media and everyone has the right to be represented.