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.
Following reports that a company based at the Shard in London has bought farms in Carmarthenshire for planting forestry, Dyfodol i’r Iaith has called upon the Welsh Government to adopt comprehensive environmental policies which protect communities as well as the planet, based upon the principles of its own Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
On behalf of Dyfodol, Cynog Dafis said:
*Burning fossil fuels has undoubtedly been the main cause of global warming, and while accepting the pressing need for more forests to capture carbon, it is a sorry situation that these large companies are now trying to greenwash their activities while accumulating grants and profit at the expense of Welsh communities, their culture and assets.
We therefore call upon the Welsh Government to keep in mind the principles of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and acknowledge that sustainability is based upon consideration of the environment, communities and the key role played by the economy. It should adopt policies which protect the prosperity of the community rather than selling local assets to those that, through greed, are mainly responsible for the precariousness of the planet.
We insist that the Welsh Government develops policies that are genuinely sustainable, and work hand in hand with rural communities to protect their ownership of the land while ensuring maximum carbon capture and carbon neutral use. Wales has an abundance of Agri-ecologists, who are as knowledgeable about the needs of the planet as the contribution of food producers and the local economy. This is the kind of extensive and balanced expertise that needs to inform policy-making, not a retread of the old disastrous route of prioritising the interests of those who are mainly responsible for the damage.”
Dyfodol i’r Iaith has welcomed the Welsh Government’s commitment to tackling the housing crisis which is threatening the viability of the Welsh language within so many communities. The organisation is keen to emphasise however that the Government’s scheme must introduce a new use class for second homes, an option that is currently unavailable.
Heini Gruffudd, Dyfodol’s Chair said:
“We hope that the pilot scheme will be a positive development, but if we are to ensure a good outcome, the Government must, in line with Dr Simon Brooks’s recommendation, allocate a new use class for second homes as part of the trial. Following this, it would be possible to set restrictions on turning permanent dwellings into second homes and ultimately, restrict the number of second homes within those communities where the problem is at its worst.”
In the meantime, Dyfodol also calls upon the Government to adopt a comprehensive response to the crisis, and to urgently press on with social housing schemes and equity schemes to help local people to buy homes within their own communities.