Eradicating Racism and Building an Anti-Racist Wales

TITLEEradicating racism and building an anti-racist Wales
DATE22 June 2021
BYJane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.

These words spoken by Maya Angelou more than 30 years ago still echo as loudly today. 

Llwydd, today marks the fourth national Windrush Day.  A day that recognises and celebrates the contributions of men and women from across the Commonwealth who helped to build a modern Wales and made this country their home.  I am delighted the Welsh Government has been able to fund a number of organisations to mark this event across Wales, to retell those stories and to celebrate those contributions to our nation.

Migrants have long formed an integral part of our nation before and since the Windrush arrivals. And it would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to remind our EU Citizens in Wales that the stories of your contributions, that your desire to call Wales your home, is something that we wholeheartedly support. That is why we have worked tirelessly to remind those EU Citizens in Wales to apply for settled status and to do so before the application deadline on the 30th of June.

As a Welsh Government we have also long supported and offered sanctuary to refugees and asylum seekers. We continue to work towards Wales being a Nation of Sanctuary and last week I published a written statement marking the remarkable contribution of refugees to the fight against Covid-19 in Wales.

Llywdd, if we take a moment to reflect…

2020 was, without a doubt, the year we confronted racism like never before, where we were forced to face up to the past and to the present state of our race relations.

The impact of Covid-19 paralysed the world.  Amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic were our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. 

The brutal murder of George Floyd sent shockwaves across the globe and sparked worldwide protests against racial injustices, and inequalities including here in Wales.  

These are some of the events that changed our world and will be remembered in our history books as a wake up call for racial justice and change. 

The 25 of May 2021 marked one year since the death of Mr. Floyd.  For his family, a form of justice came when a jury of 14 found police officer, Derek Chauvin, guilty of his murder.  For us, George Floyd’s death is a reminder that we must take steps to address racism in all its forms and move forward.  Here in Wales, we have strived to do just that – to move forward. 

In March 2020, I discussed with the Wales Race Forum, the development of a Race Equality Action Plan and the events of 2020 accelerated our determination to deliver a Plan by end of the last Senedd term. 

Last year, the Senedd supported a motion to wholeheartedly root out racism and racist ideologies and strive towards a more equal Wales, tackling systemic and structural racial inequalities.

We have made remarkable strides since then in our attempt to work towards eradicating racism and achieving our vision of an anti-racist Wales.  

On 24 March, we launched the draft Race Equality Action Plan for Wales – an Anti-Racist Wales for consultation.  I am proud that we are the first nation in the UK to call for an anti-racist country.

The testimony from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people as we co-constructed the Action Plan made the scale and pervasiveness of the racism people face every day very clear.  This reinforced the need for the Action Plan to promote an anti-racist Wales.  It is not enough to be ‘non-racist’, the entrenched detrimental impacts of racism and resulting inequalities require proactive, anti-racist action. 

Anti‑racism is a call for individuals, organisations and institutions to commit to thinking actively and responding to the potential impacts of their existing structures, processes, policies and practices on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. It is time we shift the burden of tackling racism from the recipients and victims of such acts to everyone in society – that is how we will truly achieve a Wales which is more equal, fairer and accessible for all our citizens.

I am grateful for the effort of so many people and organisations across Wales who gave their valuable time, knowledge and expertise and to those who shared their lived experiences of racism in ‘co‑creating’ the Action Plan.  Together we have achieved a draft Plan that is clear in purpose, grounded in action and championed by people that will hold government to account. It is an Action Plan that is unashamed in its determination to eradicate racial inequalities by 2030.  And it is a Plan we can strengthen further.

To ensure the opportunity to participate in the consultation is available to everyone, I have extended the consultation period by 4 weeks, now ending on 15 July 2021. 

It is crucial that the consultation has a broad reach into diverse communities and provides opportunities for flexible dialogue which can take many forms.  I launched our Race Equality Action Plan Community Consultation Grant to ensure consultation opportunities are made available to all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and groups to enable them to respond to the Plan. Their voices are crucial in this process as we want to ensure that we take the time to engage with individuals and communities facing racial inequalities to include those views in our Plan.  We will take the learning from this process to inform how we work with Black, Asian and Minority ethnic people in the future.

Hearing from the public, private and third sector is equally vital too, as this is not a Plan just for Welsh Government, it is a Plan for the whole of Wales and its people – we all stand to gain from an inclusive and anti-racist Wales.

Together we must keep talking about tackling racism in Wales and use opportunities presented to all in this consultation process.  We must join forces as political parties, with business associations, trade unions, public bodies, third sector and civil society.  It is only through our collective effort to recognise and stamp out racism that we can truly eradicate racism and achieve our vision for an anti- racist Wales. 

June is also Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month and Pride Month.  These events are key milestones that give us the opportunity to celebrate our diversity and the strengths that brings, to educate and raise awareness.

Marking important anniversaries such as Windrush Day, Refugee Week, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month and Pride Month serves to reinforce a basic truth:  we should not, and we do not take our communities for granted.  Instead, we will redouble our efforts to make Wales a country where equality for all is assured and not seen as something that is earned.

I call upon everyone here to pledge to work with us on our vision to achieve an anti-racist Wales. Deputy Presiding Officer, together we must commit to eradicating all forms of racism.  Together we must strive to create a fair and just society. Together we must match our hopes for our country with a determination to change.

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