Romani Diversity

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The ancestral history and and contemporary groupings of the Romani

Romani Americans share many ethnic and cultural traits by virtue of being Romani. Centuries of experience as a diaspora people, however, have given rise to cultural differences reflecting long-term residence in various regions prior to arrival in the U.S. These factors, in turn, have influenced Romani settlement patterns in this country. The three principal groupings of Romani Americans are the Vlax, the Bashaldé and the Romanichals.

The ancestors of the Vlax emigrated to North America from Romania. The Vlax in the U.S. comprise four main subgroups: the Kalderasha, Machvaya, Serbaya and Lovara. Communities of this widely distributed group today are found in southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, Chicago and the Northeastern corridor from Boston to Washington.

The Bashaldé trace their European sojourn to Slovakia, Hungary and Carpathia. Today the American Bashaldé reside principally in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Chicago and Las Vegas.

The ancestral home of the Romanichals is the British Isles. Members of this group are found across the U.S., with concentrations in Arkansas, Texas and the Southeast.

A fourth group of Romani Americans consists of recent immigrants from various parts of Europe, including the Balkans and other countries of the former Eastern Bloc. The largest communities of European-born Romani live in the metropolitan Northeast.