By Felicity Hannah
It started with a single caravan parked on a verge near our house and was quickly followed by a Facebook message from the leader of our residents’ association.
"Looks like a gypsy has moved in. Clear your cars tonight and lock all sheds/doors/garages," it read.
I replied politely, explaining that I wasn’t happy with the stereotypes being used.
"Well, what should we call them then?" came the reply. It was shocking to realise that this person didn’t understand I was objecting to the idea that all travellers and gypsies were thieves. They saw that as such a universal truth that they assumed I must have been merely objecting to the term ‘gypsy’.
What followed was a typical outpouring of name-calling and nimbyism. It was even implied that I was an outsider myself, who had joined the residents’ Facebook group just to cause trouble. The language was strongly reminiscent of the terms used against black and Irish communities thirty years ago.
Later that evening one of my