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