Dyfodol i’r Iaith welcomes the discussions currently taking place between Labour and Plaid Cymru and hopes that this will provide an opportunity to reset the agenda in terms of policies to support the Welsh language.
Heini Gruffudd, the organisation’s Chair said:
“We will be encouraging both parties to regard these discussions as an opportunity to consider the true needs of the Welsh language in order to meet the target of creating a million Welsh speakers.”
Among their priorities, the organisation calls upon both parties to:
- Elevate the status of the Welsh Language Division within Government
- Extend Welsh language medium education and introduce an ambitious Welsh language training programme for education workers
- Draw up a Planning policy which protects the language and addresses the housing crisis
- Act urgently to implement the recommendations of Dr Simon Brooks’s report on
- Develop the Arfor scheme which aims to promote Welsh and develop the economy of the language’s heartlands
- Extend the use of the Welsh language within the workplace
- Strengthen the language’s status within the private sector
And finally, and with no cost implications at all –
- Increase the use of the Welsh language within the Senedd, including leaders and ministers.
Dyfodol i’r Iaith has called for a national discussion on how to ensure that the needs of the Welsh language and racial equality can be harmonised and promoted. This is in response to the recent report on the opportunities provided by the Arts Council of Wales and the National Museum Wales for black people and people of colour.
In the press, particularly the English press, the report’s conclusions were reported as being an indictment of the Welsh language, as if language requirements are invariably a barrier to equality and diversity within these sectors.
Heini Gruffudd, Dyfodol’s Chair said:
“The press’s interpretation of this report was provocative and erroneous, suggesting that it is not possible for a black person or person of colour to speak or learn Welsh. We know, of course, that this suggestion is both offensive and nonsensical and that many more appropriate and flexible opportunities to learn the language are needed.
Promoting the Welsh language and ensuring racial equality is not a matter of choice or prioritisation; both must go hand in hand if the Welsh language is to flourish and be enriched by becoming the medium for diverse experiences.
Neither is the Welsh Government free from this fallacy. They have rightly decided to include the history of black people and people of colour within the National Curriculum, but have not acknowledged the need to learn about Welsh history. Once again, this is not a matter of either / or. History is key to our understanding of the present, and without the specific context of Welsh history, the history of black people and people of colour in Wales is deprived of the framework which is essential to our understanding of that history.”
A recent report by the Welsh Anti-Racist Union concludes that the procedures and policies of the Arts Council for Wales and National Museums Wales are fundamentally racist and place barriers to the participation of black people and people of colour in the arts and cultural activities in Wales. Such a report is timely and important and seeks to address inequality within two areas that can only flourish through encouraging a diversity of perspectives and experiences.
It is galling to note however that these conclusions have been presented and reported in way that confirms the fallacy that no black person or person of colour can or would want to speak the Welsh language. Even worse is the implication that the interests of two minority groups (black people and Welsh speakers) must be pitted against each other, without acknowledging that this is a false dichotomy, The Welsh language is a skill which can be learnt: black people and people of colour across Wales already speak it and more importantly, there should be acessible and inclusive opportunities for all to learn it.
The irony of this necessary report is that it has led to the media focusing solely on the Welsh language as being a barrier to equality, while ignoring the centuries of unjust ideology which is totally unrelated to the efforts to win civil rights for the Welsh language and its speakers.
This suggests an urgent need to initiate a far-reaching discussion on how to balance and integrate race equality (and all other equality strands) with the needs of the Welsh language in public life. It is frankly heart-breaking that it is currently easier to scapegoat other minorities than to challenge the status quo.