Telling them to go to the Moon | Rising to the Top | Vicente Rodriguez Fernandez

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Did you know X Men's Magneto was a Roma Holocaust survivor in the original comic books? Or that Batman's sidekick Robin was Romani as well as Scarlet Witch, and a handful of other leading Marvel and DC comic heroes? 

Although portrayed as Jewish in the X Men films, Magneto was a Romani character for decades in the comic series, representing the devastating experience of how the minority coexistence scenario failed in the first half of the 20th century. Magneto is not a one-dimensional supervillain but an individual of unique gifts and deep trauma that cause his distrust in the majority and its willingness to accept those different form them. He is also symbolic figure leaning towards civil rights leader Malcolm X in that he advocates for forceful steps and questions non-violent strategies. The conflict of the MLK-ish Professor X and the Black Panther-like Magneto is an interpretation of the ever-reoccurring dilemma of emancipational movements, revolving around the use of violence, the possibilities of assimilation or escapism, and the issues of trust and kinship between societal groups.

Today’s top hit comic universes are a fast food version of universal classics that help you bring philosophy and history through to everyday people - RomaPop founder and human rights activist Vincente Rodriguez Fernadez thus argues. Vicente has led the charge for Romani characters to be fairly portrayed in today's popular culture, and also found that advocating for formal education can be a double-edged sword that may stigmatize those who did not complete a higher education. One must acknowledge non-formal education and the importance of accessible knowledge as well as academic achievements, says Rodriguez Fernandes to Rising To The Top in this piece for Romani Resistance Day.

16th May is Romani Resistance Day, the time to recall how Romani and Sinti inmates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp sprung up on this day in 1944 and resisted the armed SS guards who intended to bring the nearly 6 000 prisoners to the gas chambers. The force and the courage those inmates showed in that especially dark episode of history need to remind us that however misrepresented and prejudiced, Roma have for long shown their readiness and capability to stand up for themselves and others in need.