Black and Asian Welsh speakers…..?

Now I don’t know about you, but I rarely if ever, encounter black or Asian Welsh speakers. Come to think of it, as far as I know there is only one Assembly Member who is black – no surprise there I hazard.

Arguably, this is attributable to the fact that Wales is predominantly WASPish -Welsh (and white) Anglo-Saxon Protestant, do excuse my take on this American acronym! –  in its demographic make-up; WASPish that is, with smatterings of ancient old labour Chapel like stubbornness thrown in for good measure.

The above being the case, one cannot help but cogitate upon this rather unfortunate phenomenon, particularly where so-called Welsh openness to all and inclusivity is concerned. Further, the growing demands for Welsh language speakers in the public sector tends to rather exclude those of an Urdu, Polish,Romanian, Punjabi……….. or even Mandarin inclination, does it not?

Following the severe terms and conditions of Welsh language protocols, surely one must consider the moral right of these noble folk to speak their native languages too. They, like Welsh speakers, are a minority after all, so surely what is Taffy sauce for the gander, should be Polish sauce for the goose too, should it not?

One cannot help but wonder how a Punjabi speaker would cope with a Welsh language menu, in his very own Bengali Star restaurant? Were the Taffy Mafia to have their way, the poor fellow would be out of business in a week, such prescriptive diktats would also in my view, be a serious breach of his Human Rights, would they not?

To conclude then, this growing insistence that the Welsh language be spoken by all who work in the all-consuming Welsh public sector, does precisely nothing for diversity, nothing for recruitment from an international talent pool and nothing for a vibrant and modern, multi-racial Wales.

Welsh Institutions are run solely by white, Welsh-speaking Welshmen and Welshwomen eg BBC ap Wales, the Welsh Assembly, the Welsh  National Health Service, Local Authorities, the Welsh legal Establishment……….

Fact, and an utterly disgraceful fact at that.

Backwards, backwards, backwards we go and not all the laverbread, daffodils and rugby balls seem able to stop this dastardly and insanely parochial, momentum.



12 thoughts on “Black and Asian Welsh speakers…..?

  1. When are you going to answer my emails directly instead of ranting on about your prejudices? Perhaps the Literati are right: you are an ignorant, arrogant git! Viv Grifftihs AUTHOR.Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 16:41:54 +0000 To:

    • I have answered you directly, Vivian. See below for my request for the titles of your work, so that I can read them.

      This being said, I tend to avoid engaging with those who exercise personal insult as a means to an argumentative end, as it were.

      You are now ‘blocked’.

      Good luck,


  2. Hi Julian,

    Interesting blogpost. May I relate my own personal experience?

    My son, Iolo, attends a Welsh medium school in Cardiff. Four or five of his class are either black, mixed race or asian. They love being able to speak another language, and all contemporary academic studies show that being bilingual is a huge advantage, not just in terms of learning other languages but in terms of problem solving and critical thinking. Wales, as you state, is hugely inclusive and part of that is based upon the general enthusiasm towards indigenous Welsh culture from newcomers and long time citizens.

    Is it possible that your lack of experience of black, mixed race and asian Welsh speakers is because you live in the countryside?

    Also, using the WASP acronym is a bit daft: anglo-saxon? protestant? Maybe try Celtic and Methodist. That would make it: WCM. Still, as I said, Wales is a largely secular society, we’re all in this together! I think that is what is so positive about devolution. We have a new start, we can create our own future based on a meritocracy, and a fluid one at that. It’s such a great feeling! Be a part of it, it will make you feel good, and happy, and positive!

    I do respect you for allowing different opinions on your site, it would be all too easy to throw your toys out of your pram at a difference of opinion, but you don’t do that.

    Have a great weekend,

    Gethin ap Gruffudd.

    • And thank you Gethin, for a fair and balanced point of view – and one untainted by abuse and personal insult!

      It is always a pleasure to communicate with someone who might well disaggree with me, but at the same time is able to posit an intelligent and courteous counter -argumnent.

      You’re right about my ‘waspish’ narrative, but sometimes I am simply unable to avoid a wee bit of mischief now and again. If only to get the juices going!

      For want of historical accuracy, you are of course correct re Celtic (or should I say Brythonic – forgive me, that’s me being a smart arse again!) and Methodist, although I would add a rider ie Baptist too.

      I remain unconvinced about your meritocratic Wales, and will only believe otherwise when I see and experience it.

      Having lived a great deal of my adult life in such places as London and Birmingham etc, for me, Wales remains remarkably poverty-stricken in cosmopolitan endeavour and multi-cutural enthusiasm, thus the fact that Welsh institutions are run by WASP’s – sorry!

      I have to argue that devolution per se, has merely promoted this nationalistic and introverted backwardness, but then of course, this is only my personal opinion and is naturally subject to debate.

      Thank you again, for taking the time to write. It is appreciated.

      All the very best,

      Julian (an English speaker and ‘proud of it’, bloody mischief again!)

      PS And damn, you’ve got to be a Welsh speaker with a name like that!You don’t work for BBC Wales do you?

    • To ergser,

      Sorry, you’ve got me here, I don’t speak the lingo but I did pick out the English word ‘rugby’…unsurprisingly! But for the benefit of our Welsh language brethren and in the interests of equal opportunities I have posted it. Far be it for me to tyrannise a person’s right to speak whatever language they choose!


      PS I assume that this is some kind of attempt to show how multi-cultural the Welsh language is? Is the fellow also a Jewish Nigerian from Cardiff Bay too, I wonder?

  3. Is it really surprising that a language indigenous to Wales is spoken largely by people also indigenous to it? I get what you’re saying about potential discrimination, but we should remember that a big reason why Welsh is mainly only spoken by ethnically Welsh people is that historically it was strongly discouraged, so that non-Welsh migrants to Wales had no reason whatsoever to learn it. Now it is promoted and there are some practical reasons to learn it, so hopefully it can spread beyond its ethnic footprint.

      • Hi Julian
        You raise an interesting point with this article. But for me, it is just that, and one which I vehemently disagree with as an a member of an ethnic minority AND a welsh speaker, born an raised and privately educated in England (although I am from a working class background)
        To cut a long story short, I moved here for study/work and was inspired by Welsh culture. I just felt that generic Anglo American culture, ranging from university lad culture to middle class millenial hipsterism generally didn’t appeal to.
        Now I can only speak from my experience in Cardiff. This city is incredibly multicultural. Since the 1900’s boat load of immigrants have been coming to Cardiff bay and made a very vibrant community. Whether from Indian, West Indian, Malaysia etc. The community of Tiger Bay/Butetown is how ethnic communities SHOULD be across GB.

        See, I would argue that resisting bilingualism in Wales as incredibly backwards and imperialistic. It reeks of the same cultural superiority that was forced on the rest of the British Empire. This whole ‘holier than thou’ attitude of stiff upper lipped English dominance went with the 1960’s. Wales and Welsh culture rebranded itself. In Cardiff these days, I am able to (and have) gone to Welsh language plays, seen Welsh films, Welsh bands in clubs. Welsh culture has modernised and adapted well, unlike, say, Gaelic or Irish. In Cardiff, it’s cosmopolitan and fresh and is just such a breath of fresh air compared to the anglo-american gloop we have have to wade through on a daily basis. Hopefully this can spread to the other areas of Wales. There are people from all backgrounds learning Welsh by their own accord who feel that they can be Welsh AS WELL AS British. I’ve met speakers from all social classes and ethnic minorities. This include, Black, Asian, EU migrants and women wearing headscarves

        While the whole world promotes their own culture, why shouldn’t Wales be allowed to. The idea of Wales not promoting and pushing the Welsh language is embarrassing. Imagine if we didn’t promote Dickens and Shakespeare in English Schools. I would argue that the Welsh language and all the music, literature, theatre and art is up there with DIckens and Shakespeare as our cultural gems. is one of the. By the way the councils are only responding to the demand.
        Monolingual English parents across Wales are finding their identity and want their kids to be bilingual. Ysgol Pwll Coch has 20% of its children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds (or BAEM’s, seeing as we are doing acronyms!). Heck if I has kids here I would want them go through the Welsh medium system.

        I think, Julian, one of the reasons why in England we raise an eyebrow at the Welsh is because of our history. We have never really been on the wrong side of. When have the English ever been ruled over in the last 500 years. When have the English ever had the cultural rug pulled away from under their feet? When have the English ever had their language and religion surpressed? It’s always been England, England, England. As such, we find it difficult to understand not just bilingualism, but biculturalism. That is two cultures living side by side, in this case Welsh and English. Take myself for example. I am a British Asian living in Wales who speaks English, Welsh and two Indian languages (and a bit of Spanish- but thats scraping the barrel). People seem confused by this identity, but we must realise that about 90% of the world speaks more than one language.

        Colonialism ended. The boot of the English was lifted off our throats, but unfortunately some of those still want to kick us down. From my experience of the Welsh press it’s isolated to a few crusty old farts in Newport and the South East. Please don’t be in that collective. We’ve come a long way since the children at the first Welsh School in Cardiff were booed off the bus (and told to go back to where they came from…ugh…Wales?). Let’s accept that the English Language can live side by side with the Welsh language. Lets be forward thinking and accept other languages- especially ones which belong here in Wales! I could go on, as I feel fairly strong about this…

        Kind Regards

  4. Also I should add one more thing, and that is just how welcoming the Welsh speaking community is. It’s just over 10% of the population here in Cardiff. I have been to plays and gigs where admittedly I have been the only non white person, but I have never felt like I’ve been watched or made to feel unwelcome. Once I get talking to people in the foyer/bar etc, they really make me feel welcome- its something which . I make a point of this because I have lives in Bristol, London (5 different parts), rural Kent, and Hertfordshire. I have been out for films, or at the pub in these places and have feel some of the punters eyeballing me thinking ‘oooo….when did this one move down…is the rest of the tribe on its way!’. But we all have to start somewhere right.
    I speak to people who lived at a time when speaking Welsh was considered stupid and there was a de facto ban on it through the streets of Cardiff. Thankfully this is no longer the case.
    Every pub/cinema/shop n the country has their first ethnic minority customer at some point. While some embraced it, other put signs up saying ‘no blacks, no jews, no Irish’. And this was only back in the 1960’s-1970’s- so still in living memory for many.

    • I take your point, but as for ‘multiculture’ I’m not so sure. Be free to speak Welsh whenever you feel like it, or sing and be poetical, but this is not my point. Welsh is in a parlous state and what does one do about it?

      The answer I feel, is more about yourself than this humble servant of scribbling intent.

      • A late reply-(student work). I think that the concept that Welsh speakers not being seen as 2nd class citizens (amongst the anglophone Welsh) has only been around for the last 30 years, and it is in this period that people have been allowed to, without prejudice, learn the language. Asking where are the non white Welsh speakers is similar to asking where are the non white Morris dancers!
        Regardless, at Tafwyl, I was talking in Welsh with Black, Asian and of course Caucasian Welsh speakers. I also
        Sorry if my message seemed like a rant. I’m just worried that in Britain, especially post referendum, we are developing a ‘little Englander’ mentality that is constantly seen in the media- and please don’t think i’m referring to you. I haven’t read any of your work, but you only need to go as far as the Welsh or English papers to hear the Welsh language bashing.

        Some important points.
        -I just saw Ross Kemp documentary on alcoholism in Britain. It cost: 21 billion/year is spent by the NHS due to alcohol. That’s for starters. Forget obesity and Tobacco. Let’s not bend over Pounds to pick up a penny. Enough about cost.
        -English medium schools still outnumber Welsh schools 4:1. Both perform equally well in my opinion, going by stats and experience (I’ve volunteered in both streams). Welsh medium is not ‘fourth class’. The best school in the country is Welsh medium last I checked. The increase in Welsh medium schools is simply a response to the parents demands.
        – A few years of mandatory Welsh would be good ( I had mandatory Latin for two years)- but actually Julian I agree that maybe giving a choice for GCSE would be better. Perhaps a good idea would be for every English medium school to have a Welsh club after school. Children can learn the language in a casual environment without the expectation for grades/assessments. I’m sure most Welsh teachers would be happy to take this role on.
        -I think that more festivals like Tafwyl should be organised. I think one in West Wales would be good. At least
        -I think technology maybe the Ace up the Sleeve for saving the language. The organisers of Welsh Duolingo were hoping for 50,000 users by the Eisteddfod. We had 100,000 back in March!

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