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Race Council Cymru: ‘Wrong’ to say Welsh language excludes minorities

24 Aug 2021 3 minutes Read
Sculptures on the National Museum of Wales. Picture by Elliot Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Race Council Cymru have said that it was “wrong” for media reports to claim that the Welsh language excludes people of colour, after a report suggested that policies aimed at promoting the language in the workforce could be a bar to a morse diverse range of applicants.

The Arts Council of Wales and National Museum Wales had commissioned the research by the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, which states that “Welsh language policies in current applications can exclude Black and non-Black people of colour”.

Participants in the research suggested “relaxing the emphasis on having to speak Welsh, and providing opportunities to learn on the job”. They also suggested “job sharing roles that may require Welsh language proficiency” when a person of colour doesn’t speak Welsh may be a “solution”.

The report led to a flurry of negative headlines in the British press claiming that the Welsh language was “racist” and “excludes minorities”.

Race Council Cymru, a body formed to champion justice and race equality in institutions and society, however said that was not the case and that they were supportive of the Welsh language.

“The board of Race Council Cymru support the Welsh Language and actively believe that diverse communities in Wales must respect the language of Wales,” they said.

“We are running Welsh Language lessons across our Multicultural Hubs across Wales.” In a Twitter message in which both the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Anti-Racist Union were tagged in, they said: “This branding is wrong.”

Both the Arts Council of Wales and National Museum Wales have however accepted the conclusions of the report.

The critical report describes the lack of policies to promote diversity within the national institutions as “disheartening” and says people of colour are not more present because of a “concerted structural effort”.

“The continual exclusion and disregard for black and non-black communities is not due to willful ignorance; it is due to a calculated and repetitive pattern,” it says.

‘Shut out’

A joint statement issued by the Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru said: “We welcome the findings within these studies.

“The approaches taken by all three organisations focused on collaborating with communities rather than extrapolating from communities, and provide a range of important findings and recommendations.

“Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru will publish a joint action plan with a timeframe for taking forward the recommendations in the autumn.”

Cymdeithas yr Iaith said that institutions should aim to “operate through the medium of Welsh and become truly anti-racist,” adding that “we can, and we should, do both”.

Chair Mabli Siriol Jones said that “racism is a problem across Welsh institutions”. She added however that “we need more, not fewer, services and workplaces operating through the medium of Welsh”.

“Ensuring improved access to the Welsh language has to be a part of this, through work by the Government and public bodies towards the target of a million Welsh speakers,” she said.

“Currently, many people in our society are shut out of opportunities to learn, use and enjoy the Welsh language because of economic and social barriers, including structural racism.

“Welsh is not an inherently exclusionary language, and neither are requirements for Welsh language skills in work.

“It’s the structures that are the issue — and that is why we want to ensure those structural barriers are removed so that everyone has access to the language.”

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Dafydd Iwan
Dafydd Iwan
1 month ago

This is a very strange comment, for surely any job which requires a particular skill can be said to exclude all those who do not have that skill, be they of any ethnic background. Surely we must go beyond looking for racial discrimination where none exists.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Dafydd Iwan

I remember you making the observation that language is a skill at a meeting of the embryonic Coleg Harlech Plaid Cymru group in about 1985. Of course, the context was y Gymraeg, a skill I was acquiring at the time, (wedi bod yn rhugl ers lawer dydd erbyn hyn mae’n falch gen i ddweud). Unfortunately we all know that accusations of ‘racism’ are never far away when it comes to our language, but I think this time it’s rather backfired and the number of people who have robustly defended the position of y Gymraeg as an essential skill for some… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Even if there is some ‘sinister ulterior motive’ at play here, the result has been an unequivocal ‘Na, dim diolch’, it seems. It is highly doubtful that this is some shady agenda, though, I think you’re right on that one. that this is born from ignorance, jargony-trend-following and a chippy, ‘why isn’t the arts scene the same as in Shorditch?’-type mentality); critical theory provides ample ground for those seeking a ‘redress of grievance’ where there is no evidence of an issue in order to line their own pockets. This time, they stepped on a Cymraeg-shaped landmine. Live and let live,… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  CJPh

I agree, in general with you except over the role of critical theory. Logic would dictate that should critical theory have been applied here it would have flagged up the gross errors contained in this report, as well as the particularly toe-curling racism inherent in the assertions about people of colour and their abilities to learn Cymraeg. Clearly the person who wrote the report was so far up themselves that they’d not checked their own racist assumptions. As an article on NC on this topic had it the other day, there probably is a case to be answered by the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Padi Phillips
Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago

I think I stopped being surprised to find a ‘non white’ person who could speak Welsh, over 50 years ago! I actually think it is a bit prejudiced to presume that a ‘person of colour’ can’t speak Welsh. If any person hasn’t learned Welsh then they will be ‘excluded’ from jobs that require a knowledge of Welsh, whatever their skin colour. May as well say that Welsh language policies are racist as far as the rest of the universe goes. ET need not apply for a job in Cymru fach.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

I’ve worked closely with quite a few BAME people who are fluent welsh-speakers. But, of course, according to this report, they don’t exist (or are incapable of gaining the prominent roles in the arts… that they already hold).

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Just another excuse for the English press and our English overlords to bash the Welsh language. You can guarantee there will be attempts to undermine the use of Welsh using anti-racism as an excuse when in fact the likes of the Mail, the Express and the Torygraph couldn’t give a damn about minority ethnic groups. In fact, if it were up to these institutionally racist newspapers there wouldn’t even be any minority ethnic groups in the UK.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

It’d be very interesting if they do, given their trenchant stance against ‘wokeism’ (which ranges from genuine antipathy toward the neo-Marxian concepts pumped out from academia to anything that remotely deviates from their own narrow worldview). The term ‘ant-racist’ has been claimed by a certain ideological subset (those influenced by neo-Marxist writers like Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, Marcuse, Angela Davies and more recently, Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X Kendi), re-defined and revised so as to change the common understanding of the terms at play. The English gutter press would have to come up with their own, re-re-revisionist definition for ‘anti-racism’… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by CJPh
Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  CJPh

I’m sure the English gutter press are perfectly capable of the mental gymnastics required to come up with a ‘re-re-revisionist’ definition of anti-racism!

Mathew Rees
Mathew Rees
1 month ago

Third sector idiots claim third sector idiots were wrong in branding third sector idiots as racist…

I need a lie down.

Royston Jones
1 month ago

Questions remain:

1/ Who or what is the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union?

2/ Why did Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru accept and publish an anonymous report?

3/ If it was not anonymous, why did those bodies chose to withhold the name of the author?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Royston Jones

Because MI6.
Is that the answer you’re looking for?
Complacent public/third sector people ticking boxes rather than doing a rigorous job on equal ops not a good enough answer?

Royston Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

I’m not sure what to believe. I am, genuinely, looking for answers.

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
1 month ago
Reply to  Royston Jones

Is this the kind of thing that the Freedom Of Information Act is supposed to help with? There’s probably a standard way to write these things, but something like “Dear Arts Council/Amgueddfa Cymru, I wish to know (i) which of your directors are members of the Welsh Arts Anti Racist Union, and (ii) which of your directors have declared themselves to be members of the same in their entries in your Register of Interests. The Freedom of Information Act requires you to respond to this request within 1 (?) calendar month.” Then, if they don’t tell you, escalate it to… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Putting it down to complacency is next to calling it “innocent”. There are 2 main threats here.

One is that which tries to reduce and eventually exclude the language while hiding behind the race ticket. In itself a racist act.

The other is the diversion of funds so that the “useless” Welsh language activities have their funding hijacked into those activities and projects more closely aligned to those the culprits desire.

Or both.

Last edited 1 month ago by hdavies15
Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

No. Complacency is not ‘innocent’. It is deliberately not doing one’s job. That is clear.

Meic Dafis
Meic Dafis
1 month ago

This is an odd one. I’ve read the report and it says precisely what the news reports claim it says. There is no room for doubt. And its ‘recommendations’ are framed as demands.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Just wait for some tvrd to claim that the R.C.C is institutionally racist and unfit to produce a report that fits the narrative of the dumb wokey brigade.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

After the grovelling apology by Adam Price (author of a book on Wales’ colonial history) for saying that Wales has been the victim of English colonialism, it was predictable that some of our Anglophile public bodies would soon choose to adopt like sheep the public displays of masochism that have taken hold in England. The insulting and ignorant nature of the report echoes that of the hideous activist-written race action plan that the Welsh government is meekly endorsing. DId we struggle against one form of imperialism for 700 years only to surrender to that of the new world order?

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