SSi Forum

'Modern Wales is multicultural and belongs to everyone'


Ooh! I look forward to hearing more about that. Please share!


Well, there’s firm evidence of the importance of dialogue. I didn’t know that existed - thanks!


No, you didn’t dream it. I heard/saw that too. I think the man who posted it on Facebook insists he really was there when it happened as well. The thing is, it might have happened, in a similar way, in different places and at different times. Some people might also have made some stories up. Who knows? It doesn’t lessen the passion with which some people want it to be untrue and others want it to be true.


Will do! (Actually, you might just have helped me find my research focus…)


That sounds like a really powerful, challenging experience. Hope you had some easier stuff out there as well…

Yes, this, absolutely.


There is. We must keep our critical and questioning faculties honed! :slight_smile:


Facebook was just trying to tell me (or strongly imply) that one of my favourite actors had passed away. Fortunately, it seems not to be true. (I won’t mention the name for obvious reasons). This is not the first time this has happened, and my wife says she’s seen it too. One reason why I am not a FB fan, although I don’t think FB is the only offender. :frowning:


I heard Kizzy Crawford speak at Tafwyl about experiencing rascist heckling in the street the aftermath of the Brexit vote and wishing afterwards that she’d answered back in Welsh.

And I was at a book launch by a Chilean refugee in Swansea recently who’d come here for asylum from Pinochet and Dafydd Iwan was playing there and spoke briefly about reclaiming the word “nationalism” - that Welsh “nationalism” should “the open hand not the closed fist”

I got the impression he was quoting but I didn’t catch from where and can’t find it, online when I looked, but I think it’s a good notion.

Can’t speak for ‘average’ every Welsh speaker but there does seem to be a certain overlap between language activists and liberal / socialist values. I think it must be something about seeing common ground - minorities tend to have similar challenges facing them even if the exact topics of concern are different. Difficulties with mainstream media portrayals, the sense of being ‘different’ all that kind of thing and if yu know in your own head that ‘your’ minority is unfairly portrayed you’re less likely to take the portrayal of other minorities at face value?

I don’t know. It seems like there’s a pattern there but it’s a bit misty when I come to word it!


Elsewhere on the Forum, I mentioned my first visit to Stradey Park. A very nice chap sat next to me. He spoke lovely Welsh and equally lovely English, when I explained that my companion was English. ( we were at a scientific conference in Abertawe ) . The nice chap was clearly of East Asian extraction , probably Chinese! Date? Not sure, 60s or 70s.


I’m reminded of a chat we had with @Iestyn on bootcamp, where he explained that the words “cymro”, “cymrais” and “cymry” refer not to people who were born in Wales or who have Welsh ancestry, but specifically to people who speak the Welsh language. In a way, this implies (at least to me) less of a focus on ethnicity, and more of a focus on the community and culture one chooses to be a part of. As such, y Cymry Cymraeg isn’t so much white as it is Welsh - as distinct from other European cultures.

As for getting more people to take part in Welsh culture (regardless of ethnicity), it needs more English language coverage. The main newspapers barely even mention the Eisteddfod, and they completely ignore many issues which affect Welsh speakers’ daily lives. I feel like more exposure the parts of Welsh life which are exclusively Welsh could well improve the likelihood of people choosing to take part in that community and culture.


Yes, you have a point. It’s not just about how we ensure that Welsh language and culture is and remains inclusive; it’s also about how English language coverage of Welsh language issues gets that message across to people who don’t already speak Welsh.


So as an American with no Welsh ancestry who is learning to speak Welsh, I could call myself Cymraes? That would make me hapus iawn! :slight_smile:


There’s a quote by Herbert Newton Casson: “There is more power in the open hand than in the clenched fist”. Don’t think he was talking specifically anout nationalism though.


It is still very much the case that Welsh speakers are white people. Part of the reason why Welsh is still a living language is the geographic isolation of rural Wales. Rural Wales never developed big industries to attract large numbers of workers from outside the area, unlike the urban industrial areas. So, historically, the language didn’t become ‘diluted’ by non-Welsh speakers as it did in more urban areas, where English became the community language. So Welsh speaking as a predominantly white peoples thing, is merely an accident of history. The language itself sees no colour and of course non-white people have picked up the language as Wales has become part of their lives.

I hate this ‘why won’t people integrate’ attitude. It’s nonsense. I’ve witnessed incomers to Wales become that little bit more Welsh every year, provided they are open to what is going on around them. To not integrate has to be an act of will to cut yourself off from certain people around you, you just naturally absorb the local culture into your own with time and retain aspects of your previous culture, this is valuable both for yourself and your new community. If learning Welsh only gave me greater access to ‘old things’ like harp players and male voice choirs, trying to preserve a culture in stasis, I wouldn’t have bothered. If you are going to play around with fusing a male voice choir with say a metal band [has anyone done this yet? please let me know!], I’m all for it. Culture, like language is a fluid thing.
There is a reason why it took so long for certain British communities to integrate. Simply not enough exposure, the same thing with language learning. If all the people who live and work around you, share your culture, then integration with another culture doesn’t happen as quickly. The less you use your Welsh, the slower you learn. It’s the same thing.

I remember visiting a friend of mine’s parents in Southall, West London. Southall is amazing, it is like a little India, bright busy and noisy. It’s where I discovered the joys of Hindi cinema! Anyway, my friend’s mother was embarrassed about talking to me in English because she had lost some of her ability to speak in English, it not being the language of her home or community. Surely I should have been embarrassed for not knowing a single word of Punjabi! She used to work in an office outside Southall and she used to be a fluent speaker of English, but had become less so. She had no reason to use English anymore as everyone she knew could speak Punjabi or Hindi. However when she met English speakers everyday she used English and picked up some English culture, after staying in their home for a weekend, she was soon back up to speed in English.

My point is that nowadays living all your life in one community is increasingly rare. The richness of deep monocultures is on the wain and impossible to preserve in the age of the internet anyway. A Vet friend of mine always complained that she could never understand what the Cardi farmers were trying to tell her. Wales is multicultural anyway, each area of Wales has it’s own culture and dialectical differences in Welsh. Adding more cultural richness to that is only a good thing, elements of all cultures will survive if people like using them. There is no point preserving something for preservation’s sake, but if it is of value to you keep using it.
So, yes, Welsh-language Wales is by definition ‘white’ only because of it’s association with rural Wales, but that will become increasingly less so in time and it doesn’t matter.

Yes, there are a number of people who have perhaps joined the ‘Brexit bandwagon’ with monoculturalist views, because they feel that their culture is under threat. The difficulty is I would suggest is that these people have never been victims of discrimination, culturally they have been dominant and privileged. This privilege of being in dominant culture. blinds them to what is going on in society around them. I know I’m a white middle-class male and often suffer from this blindness.
In terms of Welsh language culture, it is fortunate in that it has been discriminated against and aware that it’s culture is changing and embracing it, so the Welsh language culture is not blind and does not see non-Welsh speakers as a threat but as potential friends. I speak generally of course, we are all different, there are exceptions.
I’ve been rambling on for quite a while, this is something that has occupied my thoughts recently. Anyway, in line with the SSiW policy, please do not be offended if I have said anything you find uncomfortable or strongly disagree with. Thank you for reading! :smiley:


As always: openly given, openly received :slight_smile:. Lots to think about. Thanks.


Se non è vero, è ben trovato? :slight_smile:


I sort of read through that, first time around, and have just come back to it. I’d say my view of English speaking England is what is different. There is a basic presumption in England that everyone must speak ‘the language’. After all, generations on Empire-builders, explorers and missionaries went to all the trouble to teach it all over the world and this, (England) is Head Office, so any who come here must conform! Some would think that covered all the UK. Hence those who expect entire Parish Councils in Wales to change language just for them! I do not want to upset anyone. Everyone here wants to learn Welsh, so clearly does not see it as a waste of time! But I do think that, in Wales, most Welsh speakers are actually grateful to learners for bothering! And that makes me so very sad.


I’m very late to the party. Apologies if my post covers old ground. I know of several non-Caucasian families through my fiancée’s school (Glantaf). S4C’s children’s programmes have a multicultural element to them, in my limited experience of watching them. I think the reality inside the Welsh language communities has changed beyond recognition of the old stereotype - the old, white, farmer from the North or West. That view is still held (my parents were surprised that Emma, my partner, had gone to a Welsh speaking school in Cardiff).


Well, you could think of it as having become a naturalized Welsh citizen, without all the bother of filling in forms, taking an exam, and paying a huge fee. :wink:

Oh dear, I know this is going off-piste, and verging on the dreaded “politics”, but I have to get something off my chest: the whole Brexit bandwagon got hijacked by the right-wingers, but there was and is a perfectly respectable left-wing or socialist case for leaving what the EU has become. Some people were making this case (I could name some names), but they were not heard among the noise.

I am culturally very European in my outlook, and have been since my late teens. I voted to stay in the EEC in 1975. I speak (to varying degrees of awfulness) several European languages, and am trying to learn others. I have absolutely no fear of European culture, and no worries about my culture being under threat.

My misgivings about the EU are mostly economic, and somewhat legalistic. I am concerned about its lack of democracy. I am also very concerned about the lack of true democracy in the UK as well, but unlike some friends, colleagues, acquaintances (and to some extent family) who would self-identify as being on the left, I do not think the solution to our democratic problems at home lies in depending on the EU to sort things out for us. Some time after 1975 (when the left was generally anti-EEC), people began to imagine that the path to socialism or at least social democracy lay in what eventually became the EU. It was seen (even more so by people on the right) as a socialist construct (which is why the right-wingers hated it). But if it ever was a socialist construct (and perhaps it was in some ways in its early conception) that has radically changed.

I could (obviously) say more, but I should (obviously) not do so here.

Steering gently back (hopefully) on-topic, I think most problems in Wales, as in the UK as a whole stem from the economic failure of the past many decades, and by failure I mean the lack of good quality secure employment for all who want it, and the financial and social inequality that goes with it, not to mention the decay of our social infrastructure over a wide range of fields.

Once most people have no fear of unemployment, have good incomes and are in housing that they can comfortably afford, do not have to wait excessively for medical services, and can get into good schools within easy reach, and can get higher education without going into debt, and can travel where they need and want to without paying through the nose, then I think most “cultural” problems will disappear quite quickly. If your ethnically different neighbour is not competing with you for the only decent jobs available, then you will be able to see him or her in a different light, and value him or her for what he or she really is: a person like yourself.


I was trying to work out why I felt vaguely uncomfortable about this story popping up three times when I scrolled down my my Facebook feed last night.

It’s lovely that he’s making the effort of course, and there is an issue about Welsh-speaking doctors. But it’s a bit of a non-story really, except that the guy happens to be black - which isn’t mentioned overtly of course, but must be the motivation behind the manic sharing of it. Sorry @Isata, positive in a way, but ‘novelty value’?

(Edit: I don’t know why the iframe isn’t showing, but it’s the video about the doctor from Barbados learning Welsh, of course: