William. New York. Confidence

–> Romanes | –> German

***GLASO PORTRAIT series is a cooperation –>Deutsche Welle X Romblog.at***

William Bila (51) doesn’t give damn about how others see him – today. The fact that he is Roma, gay and agnostic shouldn’t matter anyway.

„I’m Roma all the way and I’m totally gay. I am what I am. I have nothing to apologize for and nothing to prove to anyone.“

For William Bila this attitude goes hand in hand with respect for others:

“I really believe that we should awarely avoid damaging others. This is part of the Hippocratic Oath, but there’s no need to keep this exclusively for doctors. I think all of humanity should practice this.

We –  the Romani peoples, every Romani community, Romani activists – should keep this in mind too – while fighting for our rights and our recognition, including amongst ourselves.“

William was born in the USA as the son of a chemical engineer and a nurse. As a child he was watching „Dallas“ and „Dynasty” – following the dream of many Americans during the 80s and 90s – glorifying money and power, wanting to get rich. William took the road to success thanks to having parents supporting his dreams and a having a bold mind. He had the best grades at school, which enabled him to receive the scholarships and stipend he deserved to go New York University’s Stern School of Business and then later to the University of Chicago – some of the best business schools in the world. 

„I stopped daydreaming and became more rational in order to achieve my goals. I thought being efficient was the best thing I could do at that time. Today, I think that I limited myself, and these limitations have had a negative effect on me. I am relearning to value ideas and visions for the sheer joy learning new things, regardless of whether I can master them efficiently for a commercial realization.“

William finishes University and applies to work for „Ernst & Young“ with the goal of  to entering the world of corporate finance in New York. Once hired, he ends up pursuing another dream to live abroad after being transferred with the company. Soon William becomes a headhunter himself. He lands in Prague and continues on his journey, living in different cities, learning different languages. Recently he reached C1 in both French and German. 

“I didn’t follow the rules of a traditional career path and here I am.“

Before that, in a multiethnical America, his roots didnt play a role, but he prefered to not talk about his sexuality. Later in Prague it was the other way around – there was big dscussions about Roma but it seemed that the acceptance for homosexual people from priviledged western counttries is no problem. 

„I don’t necessarily fit in anywhere, but I’ve learned to be completely comfortable wherever I am.”

As in every other community he was encountering intolerant forces also inside his own community – even though it is marginalized and faced with multiple types of discrimination. At that point he wasn´t sure if he should go his engagement, but he recognized somthing important about the plurality of his people:

„I can support the Many who share progressive perspectives. It is important to acknowledge that „the Roma“ are divers and not homogenious. There are many different kinds of people, cultures and political views amongst our communities.“

The future of Romani people for William also lies in their centuries of proven adaptability: „It is their ability to react to continuously changing and often hostile circumstances. The ability and the Readyness to recognize systemic patterns and take action based on this knowledge.“ 

He explains that Roma have been forced to react like like in a system where Roma are this be exluded from the factor of „power“, in a system in which they (Roma) are used to create fear. The victims are blamed to be the offenders, blamed for not adapting to a system that in fact will never allow them to become a part of it anyway. 

„That this irony is no coincidence is easy to see if you know the concept of „antigypsyism“.

„You can’t fight the system the way it is. You need to change it from within through innovation, or you work around it. When you know it is set up against you, you have no choice but to adapt your thinking if your goal is to survive.“

William explains, that the Roma as a people and Europeans are the living proof that Europeans can be resistant and resilient enough to maintain their identity and culture for over a thousand years without the benefit of a nation state to defend it. Based on their experiences as a people Roma and Sinti could be the starting point for future society scenarios:

„We are the avant-garde.“

„Nowadays you have people wanting to escape the mainstream grid as a kind of common mainstream fantasy. Our people have been and are continuing to do just that. Whether the rest of Europe chooses to learn from our example or continues to live in a state of denial is a matter of choice.“

Free will always played a role for the 51-year old – for example in choosing his religion. After having been catholic, protestant and atheist William today doesn’t consider himself either religious or spiritual and prefers to depend on himself. Still, he has come around in his view of the universe and doesn’t believe in coincidences.  In the end loving, others starts with loving yourself: 

„If something good is happening to you— embrace it – remind yourself that you deserve it, and more goodness will come to you.“ 

Protagonist Info:

William Bila is having a lot of experience in consulting costumers from the private-sector, multinational companies, government related organisations as well as NGO´s for more than 20 years in matters of strategic planning and project management.He is mainly active in the context of organizational structures, conducting research and evaluation of complex information from the finance and management sector and proposing actions based on this information. He was operating these duties in different functions across Europe and North-America. 

Links

  • See the source of this Article 1st published on @Deutsche Welle Europa in DE
  • Read more about the GLASO Portrait Series in cooperation with Deutsche Welle

read this story in —> DEUTSCH ROMANES

more about –> GLASO Portrait Series

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