We Welsh know what it’s like to suffer prejudice – we shouldn’t tolerate Aberaeron’s blackface float
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FANTASTIC article and must be shared.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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… Read more »
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!
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
I never suggested that you were a racist bigot, merely an anti-Welsh bigot. Your own words outed you as such.
“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… Read more »
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”.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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… Read more »
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!
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.
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… Read more »
Mr F Completely lost touch with his homeland and reality
Is the author of this item we are discussing Huw L Williams,Lecturer at Cardiff University
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.
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.
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?
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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?
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… Read more »
“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?
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.
Total nonsense from start to finish. The only thing I can find here to agree about is that there are indeed many parallels between the Welsh and the blacks, in particular the US Afro-Americans – both were genuinely at the receiving end of historic injustices; in both cases, the legal basis of those injustices has long since been abolished and both are equal with the rest of the population in the sight of the law. Yet in both cases, there is a strong political movement which, rather than encouraging them to take the opportunities available to them to flourish and… Read more »
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:
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… Read more »
“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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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.
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.
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.
Spot on CapM. Great article Huw.
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
Well said, Jac!
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… Read more »
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.]
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
‘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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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?
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.
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… Read more »