We Welsh know what it’s like to suffer prejudice – we shouldn’t tolerate Aberaeron’s blackface float

Screenshot from the Guardian

 

Huw L Williams

Race has no basis in biological truth. There is no evidence that members of the human race belong to different ‘subspecies’, where particular groups might be thought to exhibit particular attributes.

Yet the cultural myth and social reality of race continue to dominate the way in which we perceive each other, with regard to skin colour and other ethnic markers.

Most importantly, of course, it has been used to divide, dominate, and justify the enslavement, killing and genocide of peoples the world over.

As with other imperial powers, those of us living in the UK are deeply enmeshed in historical relations defined by racism, which we continue to benefit from economically and socially, and which continues to discriminate against different peoples.

Which is why it is difficult if not impossible to construe any incident in relation to race as innocent.

This includes, of course, blackface. It might also be added that given the very particular history of this practice – related to the minstrel shows that were based on the prejudicial stereotyping of black people – the lines are not even particularly blurred.

Because of the history, because of the context, it cannot be dismissed as a bit of fun, but rather can be characterised as an act of racism.

Aberaeron Carnival

In fairness to those who ‘blacked up’ for the Aberaeron carnival, they have apologised for their actions and they received an understanding response from the Jamaican Bobsled team, who acknowledge that there was no malice intended.

However, this does not exonerate them from blame and neither does it justify others in defending them. They may not have intended to belittle others and to act prejudicially against them, but this, unfortunately, is what happened.

We may defend them for not being racist – not holding to the belief that others are inferior on account of their race – but we must also acknowledge that it isn’t us that gets to decide what is racist and what isn’t, but rather the people who have suffered from such prejudice.

What should be emphasised is the need for not only them, but all of us, to become more educated as to why such acts are perceived as racist.

If people don’t believe that others are inferior because of their skin colour or ethnic markers, then they should want to learn why certain actions suggest this is what they believe – and what we can do to create a society which is no longer structurally racist.

 

Wales and race

These historical, structural forces that shape our reality in discriminatory ways really should not be too difficult for people in Wales to grasp.

Whilst we have been part of the imperialist project and have perpetuated the same structural racism, we have also been in an in-between state where we have been subject to prejudice because of our ethnic difference and our colonization.

When we object to people mocking our language or telling us to get back down the mines, we do so because this is not a bit of fun or harmless banter; it reflects historical, racial prejudices and the prejudicial socioeconomic structures that have kept many of us in poverty.

I suspect part of the response to this latest incident is borne from being in a part of the world where we don’t actually come face to face with a great deal of explicit racism in our day to day dealings, simply because of the very small number of minorities.

There is a certain amount of being blasé, and a desire to fob off certain acts and speech acts as harmless, perhaps because they are not seen to be directly affecting people (this sort of attitude might also be said to pertain to other issues, such as the now notorious Tommo incident in Llangrannog).

However, this simply emphasises the need for people to take these issues seriously and for people to be educated in schools, for starters (it is especially worrying how little reading of novels now happens, given their key role in informing us about the world and encouraging empathy for others).

One of the more disturbing elements of the Aberaeron incident was that this was a public event where they were given the go ahead, and indeed, there are even reports that they won a prize.

Such a level of crass acquiescence is just unacceptable. And let’s be honest, we can’t palm this off as a case of ignorance from the sticks. This is a very middle-class village in a county with two university towns.

It is pretty amazing that at no point did those involved think to check whether blacking up was appropriate. Superfast broadband may not have reached some parts of Ceredigion, but the internet works well enough to do a simple google search on these issues.

The bigger picture

All that being said, there are other issues to consider here. Those who have been forthright in their condemnation may want to consider whether they have been as quick to speak out against the prejudices expressed about Wales and the Welsh Language in recent weeks.

Whilst we must avoid suggesting any form of equivalence here, it is legitimate to note that prejudice is prejudice, in whatever form it comes in, and Welsh speaking communities in recent weeks have been subject to insidious attacks that have merited a more coordinated response from some of our representatives.

More broadly, however, we must ask ourselves if an incident such as this is surprising in light of recent political events in Wales.

UKIP’s toxic, neo-fascist, often racist politics met with little moral opposition from rival politicians, the media, or our country’s spiritual leaders.

If they have been given such an easy ride and have been so readily accepted into the political establishment, can we really be surprised, and should we be expending our energies on an incident like this?

There are much bigger issues here than the action of a few thoughtless people and careless individuals.

We should be asking ourselves as a nation how we got to this situation, and despite the often shining example set by some of our people, whether we must accept we are just as ignorant, intolerant and gullible with respect to racism as other cultures we presume to look down upon.

Given our own past as both the colonized and colonizers, given our place in the world and our own efforts to sustain a minority culture in the face of age old challenges, we should be well placed to take a lead on these issues.

We should be facing down prejudice – rather than becoming a nation of apologists for racism.

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80 Comments

  1. FANTASTIC article and must be shared.

  2. theredwelshwoman

    Erthygyl dda

  3. Sadly we live in an era where everything has to be politicly correct. My wife of 18 years is mixed race but we do not take offence at such trivial events such as this. The Jamaican Bob Sleigh team were admired for their ambition to enter the winter Olympics and Cool Running was a great movie. Carnival floats are there to amuse not raise some political argument. Get a life guys.

    • Capitalist and Welshnash

      Go dda

      • Ahh, the good old my (add as required: partner, friend, associate) is black argument. Guess what Mike, your wife is clearly alone in her view. Come to my area of Cardiff dressed like that and let’s see the reaction you get.

    • Hi Mike

      I presume you are not yet aware of what is now only just being reported. The float was also playing a racist song describing black people as lice-infested druggies who live in huts, climb trees, and don’t wash.

  4. I have just read Huw Williams biog and he strikes me as a typical academic who has never travelled the world. Hence his inward looking blinkered view on what he perceives to be racism. My advice ,as someone who has travelled across the globe for the last 30 years ,is to get out there and meet real people Huw. The Aberaeron Carnival was just a lot of locals having fun. Your criticism strikes me of the sort of objection that came from Welsh church ministers in the early part of the last century.

    • Totally agree. I have spent many years sailing and living in different countries, including Africa and the Caribbean. It broadens the mind. This hypersensitivity to questions of race and identity seems to be a cosmopolitan obsession.

      • Huw has revealed online what suggested in my post above. Grangetown academic who probably hangs out at the Chapter Arts Centre.

        His twitter states ; Academic/Awdur PPE: Philosophy, Politics, Equality. Grangetown, Dole gynt @meddwl @AthroniaethCCC
        Caerdydd, Cymruroutledge.com/Global-Justice…
        https://mobile.twitter.com/HuwL1oyd

      • as opposed to many people who have not ventured out of west wales and never come across people from different races. I hear racist remarks on a daily basis, sadly, by a lot of people who , ironically, consider themselves good chapel people- blind ignorance and crass stupidity.

  5. There are so many things wrong with this article I don’t know where to begin in response. The whole article is written in a finger-wagging self-righteous pontificating style. Huw’s tone of lecturing and shaming is really quite obnoxious.

    First off, the film Cool Runnings was, for whatever reason, popular in Wales. I know because a few years ago my girlfriend from Llanelli insisted I get get a copy so we could watch it. She said all her friends loved it. It was based on a true story of a bobsledding crew from Jamaica, who had never seen snow before let alone practised in real bobsledding conditions. It was a heart-warming story about people attempting the extraordinary, overcoming the odds and succeeding. The Aberaeron carnival tribute to this film was fitting and fun, not some horrible breakout of latent racism and/or ignorant stupidity as Huw characterises it.

    With regards to the 3 lads wearing dark makeup characterising the Jamaican bobsledders, they were portraying real people. You are really stretching the definition when you call it ‘black face’, a grotesque characterisation of the Negro race popular generations ago when racist perspectives were commonplace.

    Huw is part of a loud minority who sees racism everywhere, always seeking an opportunity to moralise and virtue signal. I suspect that lurking underneath this hypersensitivity is latent racism – a racism of low expectations. Does he really think Negroes need special protection because their feelings might get hurt if we mimic a few Jamaican heroes in a festival? Does he condemn with equal invective the Japanese theatrical tradition of ‘white face’? Or does he feel that the European race is advanced enough to take it in stride?

    This modern hypersensitivity towards questions of race and race identity, and the insistence to protect other races from presumed offence IS a kind of racism, not the Aberaeron carnival Cool Runnings entry.

    • I agree with you Glasiad in what is a well considered reply.

      If you look at the video of the Aberaeon Carnival they are just local people enjoying themselves.

      I spend a lot of time in Asia and in mixed communities where many ‘ethic’ communities have lived alongside each other for centuries without issues.

      In my opinion racism is mostly in the eyes and minds of the academics that live in a small part of Cardiff around the Chapter Arts Centre and have never traveled.

    • Well said, Glasliad!

  6. I spent a decade on the air every day at BBC Radio Wales in the 70’s and 80′ and I can tell you that I encountered more racism in the BBC Llandaff HQ than I have ever come across in 30 years of global travel. The Welsh language taffia are some of the biggest bigots in the world. An insular inward looking small minded group that feel they should impose some sort of North Korean type society where artificial language and culture reign supreme. I am open minded to all race and creed but believe we live in world where indoctrination is not part of a free life. In certain parts of higher Welsh society you are a second class citizen if you don’t speak speak Cymraeg.

    • Ah. now we come to it, Mr Flynn doesn’t like Welsh speakers! I’m sure that proportionately Welsh speakers are every bit as bigoted as any other linguistic group, but hardly ‘some of the biggest bigots in the world’. To then come out with yet another stereotype that suggests that Welsh speakers are an ‘insular inward looking small minded group’ just serves to illustrate how deep Mr Flynn’s angst is towards speakers of our national language.

      Me Flynn then goes on to suggest that the Welsh language and it’s culture is ‘artificial’. Surely, languages and cultures such as Kilingon and Elvish are artifical, in that they have been consciously created, as has Esperanto, but I doubt whether speakers of these languages would be subjected to the apparent vitriol that Mr Flynn subjects Welsh speakers to.

      Is is perhaps that Mr Flynn found that he couldn’t progress in BBC Wales because he didn’t speak Welsh, (I would have thought it pretty obvious that to progress in a broadcaster that operates in a country with two official languages would have such a requirement) and Mr Flynn, instead of buckling down and learning Welsh decided to assume that it is his lack of Welsh that held him back.

      For all his claimed open mindedness, Mr Flynn doesn’t seem to be very open minded when it comes to Welsh, indeed, like many anti-Welsh bigots, rationality and logic seem to be pitched out of the window.

      However, I do agree with Mr Flynn, no one should be subjected to indoctrination, especially the kind of anti-Welsh indoctrination that some elements of the BBC helps perpetuate against the Welsh language and it’s speakers.

      I can’t comment on ‘certain parts of higher Welsh society’ as I don’t know anyone who could even be vaguely described as such, but I do have lots of experience of being treated as a second class citizen in every day life because I do speak Cymraeg.

      • Why is it a general perception by Welsh speakers that those who grew up in towns such as Wrexham speaking English are anti Welsh?

        Perhaps even racist?

        My sons were born in Cardiff but left at a young age when I took them around the world for a few years and only speak English. Are they Welsh?

        My eldest son did his BA in London at SOAS. The School Of Oriental and African Studies. Post grad MA at Bournmouth in Journalism and after following me to Reuters Global TV News before spending time at the TRT, the state broadcaster in Turkey. Now his current post is in Hong Kong and Tokyo with Reuters.

        I have spent a lot of time in Indian SubCon and global tv news broadcasting so please do not try to play that racist bigot card with me.

        I am married to an Asian.

        What more do you want?

        I say there is more bigotry in Wales than I have found in the Ametican mid west.

        • I never suggested that you were a racist bigot, merely an anti-Welsh bigot. Your own words outed you as such.

        • CambroUiDunlainge

          “where artificial language and culture reign supreme.”

          Artificial would suggest they are constructed. Welsh language and culture have never died out. All languages have loan words – English especially. Eisteddfods have been going since at least our Lord, Rhys ap Gruffydd in 1170 odd. What you appear to be ranting against is conservatism… and i’ll just point out your BBC/Graun people of the world nonsense also requires conservatism because language and cultures naturally deviate so to maintain that you’ll have to be very “inward” looking otherwise globalisation will just all fall apart over and over again.

          Oh and I find your statement that my language and culture is artificial very insulting. You’ve got to ask yourself if you can insult the language and culture of a nation in such a way are you of that nation at all? I often wonder if its a case of later settlers here who are unable to relate to the cause of previous generations as to so callously dismiss the beauty of a unique language and culture which has survived against the odds and at some great cost.

    • As I read down the comments I knew we were heading somewhere courtesy of Mr Flynn. The name also rang a bell but I couldn’t work out why. Now we come to this comment and all becomes clear! Stop Press! Renowned anti-Welsh language bigot seizes opportunity to be an anti-Welsh language bigot! Really very tiresome, “Mike”.

  7. Communist and Welshnash

    http://www.walesartsreview.org/some-notes-on-blackface/

    Is it really necessary to attack the writer of this article? Mr Flynn and Glasiad half empty are very rude alongside some other commentators on here. Why are you getting so personal?

  8. For sure I can attack him because he does not represent those people at the carnival who were having a nice day out. Just reading his twitters he is as I suggested an academic who spends his time in the arty part of Grangetown and probably the Chapter Arts Centre.

    You will find me on more down to earth Welsh societies.. Disused and Abandoned Railways of South Wales.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/382636661885307/?fref=nf

  9. Mike Flyn reacting in the way he purports to condemn. Funny how people’s bigotted opinions emerge in some people’s comments, Mike Flyn must have been sacked by the BBC or something, who knows, I don’t recall him, was he a comedian or something? He’s obviously got a grudge against Aunty

  10. Capitalist and Welshnash

    Imitating a film based on Jamaican heroes is not racism. Grow up.

    Also, an article was published on here with Yes Cymru on an image of Karl Marx, a radical left Winger. Yes Cymru is supposed to support independence across the political spectrum. May we please have a pro-independence article for radical Right-wingers with a Yes-Cymru badge on, say Edmond Burke?

    The more we include conservatives in the independence movement now, the less of a fight between us we will have after independence.

  11. In reply to jonesy. I was not sacked by BBC Radio Wales and indeed worked for them until the last day before I emigrated to Australia in 1989,
    Check me out here.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Radio_Wales

  12. Communist and Welshnash

    The Organising Committee of the Aberaeron Carnival are the cowards of the county here because they declined to comment. Who were the Judges and why was the float awarded a prize? The problem with allowing all and sundry to comment is that you get a couple of old colonials who have travelled and sailed the seven seas and mixed with the natives and still use the term Negro. You cannot excuse this behaviour in 2017.

  13. There tends to be what I call the old Welsh bible thumpers posting on here with an attitude that they can now influence Welsh society by exploiting political correctness. Forget God and you will go to hell as the old chapel religous zealots expounded, The chapels are all gone or converted in to homes or Bingo Halls.

    The present movement want to suggest global warming and racial intolerance are the new scriptures. Except the preachers have never been anywhere.Not even outside the Welsh Marches by all accounts unless you count a few weeks holiday somewhere warm.

    I supect the nearest Huw L Williams has been to Jamaica is Port Talbot.

  14. Communist and Welshnash

    You might need a dictionary for this Master Flynn but the comments after the article are well worth reading! If you are having trouble perhaps your old mucka will help you out!

    https://ytwll.com/2017/09/aberaeron-pared-anwybodaeth/

  15. Crefibility lost I’m afraid. Nit because of the issue, but the incredibly patronising way that you presented it.

    I was lost from the start when you chise to educate about race anf racism, but thelast straw was implying that these country bumpkins should knie better because they can look things up on the Internet and have universities to help educate them

    No doubt you could diss my views as a racism denier, but I’ve deliberately avoided that one since you’re superior attitude was the biggest issue here.

  16. I had no problem reading that but the bottom line is the people of Aberaeron did not raise the issue. If you have ever been to Jamaica then perhaps
    you will appreciate the lyrics to Dreadlock Holiday are not racist but just telling the truth.
    LYRICS
    I was walkin’ down the street
    Concentratin’ on truckin’ right
    I heard a dark voice beside of me
    And I looked round in a state of fright
    I saw four faces one mad
    A brother from the gutter
    They looked me up and down a bit
    And turned to each other
    I say
    I don’t like cricket oh no
    I love it
    I don’t like cricket no no
    I love it
    Don’t you walk thru my words
    You got to show some respect
    Don’t you walk thru my words
    ‘Cause you ain’t heard me out yet
    Well he looked down at my silver chain
    He said I’ll give you one dollar
    I said You’ve got to be jokin’ man
    It was a present from me Mother
    He said I like it I want it
    I’ll take it off your hands
    And you’ll be sorry you crossed me
    You’d better understand that you’re alone
    A long way from home
    And I say
    I don’t like reggae no no
    I love it
    I don’t like reggae oh no
    I love it
    Don’t you cramp me style
    Don’t you queer me pitch
    Don’t you walk thru my words
    ‘Cause you ain’t heard me out yet
    I hurried back to the swimming pool
    Sinkin’ pina colada
    I heard a dark voice beside me say
    Would you like something harder
    She said I’ve got it you want it
    My harvest is the best
    And if you try it you’ll like it
    And wallow in a dreadlock holiday
    And I say
    Don’t like Jamaica oh no
    I love her
    Don’t like Jamaica oh no
    I love her oh yea
    Don’t you walk through her words
    You got to show some respect
    Don’t you walk thru her words
    ‘Cause you ain’t heard her out yet
    I don’t like cricket oh no
    I love it (Dreadlock holiday)
    I don’t like reggae oh no
    I love it (Dreadlock holiday)
    I don’t like Jamaica oh no
    I love her (Dreadlock holiday)
    Songwriters: Eric Stewart / Graham Gouldman
    Dreadlock Holiday lyrics © Schubert Music Publishing Inc.

  17. Mr F Completely lost touch with his homeland and reality

  18. Is the author of this item we are discussing Huw L Williams,Lecturer at Cardiff University
    see below?

    I teach and research in both English and Welsh and have published a number of books and journalistic pieces for websites such as OpenDemocracy, Planet Extra and Clickon Wales. My most recent book is a co-authored introduction to Global Justice in the Routledge basics series. My research specialism include the philosophy of John Rawls and Welsh intellectual history, in addition to my work on global justice.

    I am open about who I am and my background.

  19. The author of the article we are discussing appears to want to paint some sort of politically correct statement in to an innocent afternoon of fun in a Welsh town.

    Frankly I find day to day life in countries such as Laos,Cambodia and Mynamar now less repressive than the sort nation Huw L Williams wants to create.

    Travel broadens the mind Huw.

    You need to leave Grangetown and see the world.

  20. This article makes me sick to be honest. I would not like to spend any time with the writer of this piece as he clearly is missing a sense of humour and is a big fan of labelling things into various boxes like most of these well-meaning types who think they are enlightened but are actually just brainwashed idiots. Spend a bit of time in the real world before writing anything ever again.

    Cool Runnings is funny – get over it!!

    • No wonder the UK press often describe the Welsh as having no sense of humour. What about Matt Lucas and his send up of Llandewi Brefi in Little Britain?

  21. Anarchist and Welsh Nash

    I’m also concerned about the moralizing tone of this article.

    It reminds someone of the “reds under the beds” syndrome in America in the Fifties, where everybody was looking for communists everywhere.

    This is a classic example of someone looking purposefully for an example of racism and finding it- regardless of the context and intentionality of the event itself.

    No way was this racism. In fact deeming it racism only serves to demean real racism and the emotional and psychological injury which can result for people affected by it.

    This “presumed offence” syndrome is very worrying indeed. Such over egged cultural marxism really does threaten free thought and free speech in our modern society.

    Cool Runnings was a warm and humorous film about a real event. I guess the lads from Aberaeron were trying to convey that warmth and humour.

    Ill-judged maybe in this PC climate of ours- but not racist.

    .

    • I agree with you. The author of the piece seems to be making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill. It may well have been a little inadvisable for the group behind the Aberaeron float to have ‘blacked up’ but really the only people who should have been concerned were the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team, and they’ve already posted their response to it. Job done, and in line with the author’s (rather arrogant in the situation, since the author himself is white, and thus fall foul of his own argument) stipulation of who exactly gets to decide whether or not something was ‘racist’.

      The author also seems to have decided to completely ignore the whole issue of intent. With intent, of course something could easily be interpreted as racist, but without intent, and that’s the only way I can conceivably think is the case here. The most extreme accusation that can be laid is that the decision to black up was that it was in bad taste.

      • CambroUiDunlainge

        Spot on about intent. Though maybe their choice of float was the real mistake… because they couldn’t exactly pull it off as white guys could they? People would have something to say about that instead then.

      • “With intent, of course something could easily be interpreted as racist, but without intent, and that’s the only way I can conceivably think is the case here.”

        What is now only just being reported is that the float was blasting out a song written and played by a guy called Rat Tar which describes black people as lice-infested druggies with HIV who don’t take showers, and live in huts.

    • The float was also playing a racist song descending black people as lice-infested druggies with HIV who live in huts and climb trees, again and again and again, as it rolled around town.

      If that’s not racist, what is?

  22. Whether this was racist or not I have no idea, but some are very sharp in their judgements and quick at spreading the smear very wide. The stereotyping of groups of people and double guessing their opinions and motives, is quite worrying.

    Some of the responses to this story, both here and elsewhere have shown that this invites some strange comments and no doubt some will consider that as justification for bringing these things into the open, but a holier than though attitude, spouting textbook phrases like “blackface” and “racist deniers” is not going to endear you to anyone except for the good cause fighters and is ultimately counterproductive.

    • “Whether this was racist or not I have no idea”
      Blacking up + playing a racist song describing black people as living in huts and having HIV = racism.
      Seems pretty obvious to me.

      • I see you apply the zero tolerance approach to all these issues. Fine, but in my mind that is simply “good cause “vigilantiasm. Vigilantes may be spot on more often than not, but can also get it hopelessly wrong. I’m not one for applying such a simplistic approach – what about judgement and common sense?

  23. It appears I emerge as someone ,’sacked by BBC Wales’ , for trying to state the truth and defend the simple right for ordinary people to have fun in a carnival. I find more freedom in so called Asian represive states than exists in Wales these days.

  24. Do we have any proof that this “Mike Flynn” is actually the person he claims he is?

    The barely-concieled hatered of the Welsh has me convinced that he’s using an alias.

    • There was a Mike Flynn who worked for BBC Radio Wales, he’s mentioned on the Wikipedia article about Radio Wales, and also here:

      http://www.citygold.me.uk/where-now/

      Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

      • Yes, I saw those but that doesn’t prove that our Mike Flynn is the same Mike Flynn. I’ve seen enough strange things on the internet that it wouldn’t surprse me if Protic or someone of his ilk decided to trawl for obscure BBC Radio Wales hosts to impersonate, just to make throwaway “Welsh is artificial” attacks.

        • I would not want anyone to take responsibilty for my comments.

          Yes it is me.

          My Irish gaelic speaking parents are buried in the graveyard above Ruabon station. The village has taken on an air of sophistication since my youth with Hafod colliery closed long ago and the pungent smell of Monsanto disappeared.

          The bypass and dual carriageway now means Oswestry and Chester are just 20 minutes away.

          It was a grim place in the 1960’s but a village full of life.

          There was so much industry around Wrexham in those days with the coalfield,steelworks and garment factories. I went to the Catholic school in Wrexham surrounded by Italians,Polish,Serbo-Croats and other kids from families displaced by WW2.United by religion and from refugee families looking for a better life.

          My sister has spent her entire life there with a husband from a neighbouring street. His parents are in the same graveyard just a short distance away from mine.

          In contrast I have spent a large part of my life travelling the world.

          They say it broadens the mind.

          All I know is that there are too many people out there quick to challenge others enjoying their life.

          Ruabon graveyard is a grim place on a cold winters afternoon as you gaze across the old station with the Berwyn mountains on the right. However it inspires one to savour every minute we have left.

          So when I look at the video of Aberaeon Carnival all I see is fun.

    • “I find day to day life in countries such as Laos,Cambodia and Mynamar now less repressive than the sort nation Huw L Williams wants to create”.
      Whoever this ‘mike flynn’ is he obviously hasn’t got a clue what’s going on in Mynamar http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/myanmar-faces-international-condemnation-rohingya-170904195521296.html

      The Flynn posting here claims to have had articles published on ‘click on wales’ but it’s very hard to equate the author of this article on diversity which appeared on click on wales http://www.iwa.wales/click/2017/03/diversity-film-tv-wales-key-growth/ with the ‘michael flynn’ commenting here approvingly of people blacking up! I think Rhys is on the money here (well i guess a certain obsessive anti welsh language bigot couldn’t keep commenting online as ‘J Jones’ and hope to get away with it 😉

  25. I fail to see what relevance this article has on a website devoted to discussing issues concerning Welsh culture and language and the political future of Wales.
    I couldn’t give a gnat’s tadger if three men in bobsleigh applied makeup to their faces to celebrate a sporting event. We have important issues to discuss about our country, but thanks to Huw Williams and this man Flynn, we have now been momentarily diverted from what has so far been a productive dialogue on what we can do for Wales.
    Can we shut up about Aberaeron and ‘blackface’ now? If Williams wants an example of racial prejudice, or ‘racism’ as he calls it, let him look no further than the BBC’s and the Guardian’s attitude towards the Welsh language.

  26. Communist and Welshnash

    I would like to know who the individual members of the Aberaeron Festival Organising Committee are. Are they prominent local business owners? Are they Politicians or local Councillors? Upon them falls the decision to allow this float into the Carnival. If the film was from 1993, then the people taking part in the float were probably not born then so why presume that all ‘innocent fun loving’ carnival goers will have seen the film and understand the cultural context.

    What if Dyfed/Powys police had decided to stop and search the float team because they were ‘black’?

    What if one of the members had been stabbed and become yet another statistic of knife crime because he had been ‘black’?

    The Cambrian News would probably not have reported either.

    Perhaps next year Nation.Cymru can enter a float into the carnival with Massa Flynn and his ilk leading the procession with a rousing rendition of ‘Ol Man River’

  27. Google, ‘racist’. As a definition you get, “showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another”. We should condemn racism of all sorts, but dressing up as someone from a different continent does not meet this definition.

    • Capitalist and Welshnash

      Go dda

    • It certainly does if the ‘dressing up’ is accompanied by the playing of a racist song, as it was in this case. The song, written and played by a guy called Rat Tar, describes black people as living in huts, climbing trees, and having HIV.

  28. There was a sign on the float saying “Ffos y Ffin bobsleigh team”.
    However appearing as just a bobsleigh team was presumably, in the minds of the entrants, not funny enough. Therefore the decision to black up was taken because they thought white men with black faces = funny. It was a carnival after all.
    Even if personally you might be comfortable with that you have to concede that for many the “message” will be, black people = funny.

  29. Here’s a different interpretation.

    A bunch of unsophisticated young locals show their admiration for the Jamaican bobsled team and the film ‘Cool Runnings’ by blacking up. (Would it have made visual sense if they’d gone as white men?) There was a similar incident a few years ago when rugby international Liam Williams blacked up as Wilfried Bony, the Swans footballer. Again, done out of admiration for Bony’s sporting prowess. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wales-international-liam-williams-apologises-8325680

    Now what happened in Aberaeron was that a local Labour councillor, and parliamentary candidate, Dinah Mulholland, ran to the media with tales of Welsh racists roaming the streets of the town. Predictably, the story got taken up by London dailies, which never miss an opportunity of having a go at us. The Welsh Left – especially those who regard themselves as the ‘National Left’ – did what they always do and fell over themselves to placate their English comrades. Because when push comes to shove the National Left will always line up with its English comrades. That’s one reason Plaid Cymru is finished.

    This article falls into that category. Embarrassing, simpering, ‘Ooo, we’re not really racists, honest. Can we still be your friends?’

    My interpretation. A ruthless and ambitious Englishwoman who has imposed herself on Ceredigion is trying to make cheap political capital. For the the subtext, or the real message, of this squalid episode is, ‘Look at these frightful Welsh racists – I bet they vote Plaid Cymru’. Yet the National Left dances to her tune.

    Which this makes this Aberaeron story another example of colonialism. But of course the National Left will never see it that way because their head is so far up the arse of the English Left that they see nothing.

    Me? I would have just told her to shut up and fuck off.

    • The only thing I disagree with you, Royston, is that their ” a bunch of unsophisticated young locals that “…. I’ve found no actual evidence of that and what to think of them a bunch of lovely Welsh lads – intelligent to boot..

    • Well, I could just about the idea that it was all a bit of innocent fun, high jinx, no offence intended etc… EXCEPT for the fact that the float was also playing a no-holds barred racist song. Blacking up + playing a racist song = racism.

    • It would do Wales far greater service if people started seeking out the real discrimination/exploitation incidents instead of homing in on the trivia. That carnival crew at Aberaeron may have been a bit lacking in sense and awareness but there are far bigger threats among us. Those virtue signallers and expressors of fake shock should look closely at the real peddlers of supremacist and discriminatory behaviours within Labour in Wales and UK wide, and indeed among other so called mainstream political parties where it is perfectly good form to look down at anything that doesn’t fit the “norms” of the groupthink standard setters. Grasp the really nasty nettles first and get stuck into low hanging fruit later – or is that too much of a challenge for a bunch of people who don’t quite know what will be fashionable groupthink next week ?

    • Gareth Westacott

      Well said, Jac!

  30. As a “token” blackman I found no offence at all in the men blacking up. I see absolutely nothing racist in their actions at all. Very disappointed though they felt they had to apologize but in modern Britain everyone seems to be saddled with guilt. My experience over sixty years is that there is very little racism throughout our land; though i do feel there are those use it to create division between all our peoples. Having lived in Cymru stayed in Aberaeron on holiday often, I must say I’ve never come across racism in the town, area. Never felt I was looked down upon.
    People like, Diane Abbot, Sadiq Khan, amongst others seem to have made a career out of finding racism in every corner of life – where most blacks, people of colour, would find none – are not reflecting a true minority experience. More likely using division for their own enrichment and media profile.
    Personally, I feel people like, Huw L Williams, fuel that same division though purporting to speak in indefence of black people and racism; which is actually very belittling to actual “real black” people who can speak for ourselves. Mind you they might not like the fact that our opinions don’t agree with theirs or Diane Mullholland, who I guessed rightly would be a Labour leftie trying to score “brownie points” …no pun intended.

    • I would suggest, for the sake of balance, that the only thing ‘token’ about Mr Erswell is his status in these comments section as an ‘alt-right’, Trump and Farage supporting [deleted – Ed]. A quick Google of him yields plenty of evidence to support this viewpoint.

      [Please do not contribute any potentially defamatory comments on this site. I don’t have the time to edit them and Nation.Cymru doesn’t have the resources to deal with complaints. If you wish Nation.Cymru to continue please take care when commenting. Thanks – Editor.]

  31. If the float really was a innocent homage to the movie, why were the blacked up guys also blasting out a song that describes black people as lice-infested druggies who live in huts, climb trees, and have HIV? If it blacks up its face like a racist, sings a racist song like a racist, then it probably is a racist.

    • What song are you referring to? Are you connected with Mulholland?

      • An unapologetic extremist racist song written and played by a guy called Rat Tar. The lyrics are disgusting.

      • Regarding your interpretation earlier.-
        “A bunch of unsophisticated young locals show their admiration for the Jamaican bobsled team and the film ‘Cool Runnings’ by blacking up. (Would it have made visual sense if they’d gone as white men?)”

        All four unsophisticated young locals were wearing dreadlock wigs and two of them were also wearing “rasta hats”.
        If they were showing their admiration of the Jamaican bobsled team none of them would be wearing those wigs as no member of the Jamaican bobsled team in 1988 had dreadlocks.
        If their admiration for the film Cool Runnings was the motive only one person on the float would have worn a wig.
        And if they were at all bothered about “visual sense” they would all have worn helmets anyway

        So much for their knowledge of the real bobsleigh team or the film version.
        But of course the costumes were not about accuracy but about looking funny.

        Perhaps next carnival season will see a float somewhere in Cheshire with a bunch of lads dressed up as druids riding sheep.
        Perhaps you’ll interpret it as – a bunch of unsophisticated young locals show their admiration for the Eisteddfod.

        However I agree with you that there are those who seek to make political mileage out of this and that they should be called out.
        The response from the entrants concerned appears to be one of: realization that they were clots: apology to the Jamaican bobsleigh athletes and we now know better. I think that’s better that trying to excuse it or rationalize it away as being of no consequence.

        • So now they’re expected to know a) the hairstyles favoured by the Jamaican bobsled team in 1988 and b) know how genuine bobsledders(?) are kitted out!

          As for the comparable example you attempted – what do sheep have to do with the Eisteddfod? To interpolate sheep into some tableau of the Eisteddfod would be unmistakably insulting in a way that what happened in Aberaeron was not. But not necessarily racist.

          It seems to me that over the past year or so the Left has become more obsessed with race than the Right.

          • The Left are more obessed with race than the Right for the simple reason their racist. Bit like someone who farts than looks to the person standing next to them in accusation.

            • Say’s someone who has repeatedly tweeted his support for the race obsessed british fascist and former leader of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson – was too late to delete them kim 😉

            • Think it’s fair to say that someone who has tweeted support for the race obsessed british fascist and former EDL leader Tommy Robinson is….. a) obsessed with race and b) right wing Kim 😉 .

              • I voted for, Dafydd Wigley when I lived in Cymru…Oh! and meetup for a pint with a Gwynedd councillor when I’m there…

          • Oh come on this is getting silly. You suggested that the lads were showing admiration for the bobsleigh team/film. And now you’re suggesting that they didn’t know what the athletes/characters looked like as presumably they’ve never have seen a photo or video of either!

            What have sheep to do with the eisteddfod?
            What have cannabis motifs got to do with the Jamaican bobsleigh team? Watch the video.
            Nothing in both cases they just add derogative racial clichés to both in an attempt to make the image funnier (to some).

            I think that the float was a bad idea. If that means that my opinion aligns with those on the “left” in this case or the “right” on other occasions then that’s just the way it is.
            I base my opinions on what I think is right or wrong and not just on something contrary to the opinion of those that I might usually disagree with.

  32. Sigh! Are we still on this? Everyone now knows that it’s merely the Metro-Elite ferretting around to score a good-conduct badge from the race industry (see reply by Royston). It seems to me that the display on the float was done in all innocence, with no malice aforethought.
    If this English politician really, genuinely, felt it to be inspired by racial prejudice, she had only to bring it up with the event’s organisers instead of having it disseminated by the Guardian, to whom, as an anti-Welsh organ, it was meat and drink.
    Wales has real problems; too much ink and too much invective have been wasted on this non-story.

  33. Tame Frontiersman

    ‘Blacking up’ causes offense because in the 19th and 20th century and before the 1960’s Black Power/ Black Consciousness movements forced a rethink, white people ‘Blacked up’ to portray people of African descent as infantile rogues for the purpose of entertaining a privileged race with a belief in its own superiority
    .
    And yes, people of African descent have by no means been the only targets of negative racial stereotyping!

    Like Mr Williams, I am a bit surprised that it apparently didn’t occur to anyone at any stage that ‘blacking-up’ would result in unease and offence in 2017 on what by all accounts, was otherwise a fun family event enjoyed by many.

    If some white lads had ‘Blacked-up’ at London’s Notting Hill Carnival I fear that the media headlines would have been brutally different. Actually, I think the police would have taken pre-emptive action.

    Political correctness for all its faults does have some practical virtues.

    If we accept what happened in Aberaeron was innocent and not intended to cause offence, that is still, at best, a weak excuse in 2017.

    The current vogue for apologizing for historical wrongs is also rather lame.

    Surely, individually and collectively we should be striving to do the right thing in the here and now which includes understanding the sensibilities of others -so we have less to apologise for in the future!

  34. Communist & WelshNash

    These are the names of Aberaeron Town Councillors and it is the Aberaeron Town Improvements Committee that organise the Carnival! These are the brave and fearless public servants who have declined to comment on allowing this bobsleigh team into the carnival. The Bobsleigh team have been villified but it should never have got to this stage. Surely there would have been some detail required on the entry form as to their intentions.

    Mayor: Cllr Rhys Davies
    Deputy Mayor: Cllr Elizabeth Evans
    Cllr Phillip Davies
    Cllr Darryl Evans
    Cllr Mair Harrison
    Cllr Katrina James
    Cllr Owenna M James
    Cllr David Jones
    Cllr Neris Lloyd
    Cllr Catrin Manjang
    Cllr Huw Thomas
    Cllr Thomas Williams

  35. To the detractors of this article I ask, how many people of color live in Aberaeron? Would any of you who say it’s not an issue to wear blackface be comfortable doing it in Harlem, in the South Side of Chicago, or in Ferguson, Missouri?

  36. The comments on this article make me want to despair, until I remember that the vast majority of your are nothing more than keyboard warriors that live in the depths of the twentieth century.

  37. Would any of you think this song was racist if it was chanted in a carnival in England? Or is it just a bit of fun?

    Enough people say they know they can’t believe
    Wales we have a rugby team
    Everyone says that we buy stuff cheap
    Like dirty old cars and rusty old jeeps
    When a hurricane comes we climb into a tree
    Wales we have a rugby team
    We only wear clothes with Liz Duke jewellery
    Wales we have a rugby team
    We eat Bara Brith and puff a lot of weed
    Wales we have a rugby team
    We have top knots and we wear beanie caps
    We only say ‘mun’ and we never say chap
    We can’t afford tarmac so we have dirt streets
    Wales we have a rugby team
    We live in huts with no air conditioning
    We believe in god and only drink mead
    Wales we have a rugby team
    Because of lots of rain our skin’s really white
    Our water comes from wells or the sea for free
    We have no showers, we bathe in a crappy stream
    Wales we have a rugby team
    We can’t afford condoms so we have babies
    Either that or HIV
    We don’t know why but we get tattoos
    We go to the Olympics
    We always lose
    Wales we have a rugby team
    We practice on the pitch
    There’s no grass that’s nice
    Our nappy hair
    Gives us lice

    I only changed a few of the words to make it Wales-centric. This was the song playing at the carnival, but it wasn’t about Wales, it was about Jamaica and black people. It is NOT the song that was played in the Cool Runnings film. Now if you were a true fan of the film, surely you would use the original song?

    I agree with what one commentator said about – these people just thought ‘black people = funny’.

    One of the men on the float was the carnival organiser’s son. The racist float won the float competition. Go figure.

    If you don’t believe me about the lyrics to the song they used, you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr6z3ZBBRjE

    You can also listen to it being played on the original video of the carnival.

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