Good question – Is Welsh a culture or a race?

I don’t know the answer here but I would incline toward the idea that it’s actually a racial rather than merely cultural grouping. All those Celts rather than Anglo Saxons etc. Of course, thinking this way does mean that South Wales isn’t Welsh but then that’s true anyway. Be a slur on the hell that it is to call it Welsh.

But we do still get this:

This week, Gwynedd council raised concerns that Welsh people of colour will have no tick-box option to indicate they are Welsh and minority ethnic in the 2021 census, as a result of the survey format designed by the Office for National Statistics. This is a bitterly disappointing and frankly astounding omission. It implicitly embeds the dangerous assumption that people of colour aren’t Welsh, or that those who can speak Welsh have to be white.

So, what is Welsh? A culture or a race?

54 comments on “Good question – Is Welsh a culture or a race?

  1. The thing about intersectionality is that a lot of people end up in more than one category. I never tick that census box, I can imagine no purpose for which the data can be used which is not discriminatory in some way. Don’t tick that box, even if you are Welsh and Black. They just want to pigeonhole you and prefer someone over someone else.

  2. “course, thinking this way does mean that South Wales isn’t Welsh but then that’s true anyway.”
    So George North is the first real Welshman to represent Wales.

  3. Hospitals and doctors seem to be asking this nowadays. I always answer that I’m human but there seems to be some disagreement, About either my answer or its appropriateness, not sure.

  4. It implicitly embeds the dangerous assumption that people of colour aren’t Welsh, or that those who can speak Welsh have to be white.

    It would be astonishing if there were many (any?) non-white people who speak Welsh but all these classifications are invidious now. The only fixed point is the individual’s passport which will tell him what his nationality is.

    Culture is now so fluid as to have become meaningless and race is so fraught with complications that the best guide is to look in the mirror and decide for yourself. If you can trace your antecedents back to Llywellyn ap Gruffalo then that’s fine too.

  5. It turns out that people with different ethnic backgrounds are more susceptible to different ranges of diseases, so classification is useful in a medical context. The problem is, the data often isn’t used in a strict medical context, as the medical profession is just as vulnerable to the Long March.

    As for Wales, this (ox.ac.uk) seems to suggest that the Welsh bits of Wales do have a distinct genetic identity largely unpolluted by Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings etc. that have mingled with the rest of us.

  6. South Wales – all those valleys filled up at industrialisation with English midlanders, south westians and Irish. It’s a very recent phenomenon in population terms, 1820s onwards perhaps?

  7. “So, what is Welsh? A culture or a race?”

    Whichever gives the person demanding to know the most power at any given time.

  8. As a shy mixed-race girl, learning Welsh gave me a gift of identity.

    This is cultural appropriation and she needs to tick the “check my privilege” box, obvs

  9. There’s way too much on today’s census form anyway. They need to go back to the single A4 per household, single line per person of the 1911 and earlier.

  10. Yet in the bad old days of apartheid in South Africa asking someone what their race was was a bad thing.

  11. Correct, Steve.

    ‘that those who can speak Welsh have to be white’

    Else cultural appropriation.

    What . . . that’s okay today?

    The Left: no rules, just right.

  12. *sigh*

    There was a box on the form where if none of the boxes applied you could enter your own description if ‘none of the above’ applied.

    Think how many f’ing boxes you’d need if every single combination had to be provided for.

    Talking of which, I’ve just entered the Bristol 10k and the entry form asked me if I was M, F or non-binary. FFS.

  13. I realise that this is an extraordinarily contentious thing to say on this blog, but my few interactions with Taffies en masse were entirely to their credit.

    (As, come to that, were my two interactions with individual American blacks.)

    Obviously I am blessed.

  14. A language!
    BlokeinTejas gets a B+ but Timmy gets a F because in the roman era the Celts were a cultural grouping rather than a race.

  15. Boy, the jokes just write themselves, don’t they?

    Actually, the USA has its very own Wales. We call it West Virginia.

  16. Race? Wales has never been separated enough from the rest of the World to have the people there differentiate enough from standard Caucasian to qualify as a “race”.
    The word you’re looking for would be “breed” , but for some reason applying that perfectly functional biological distinction to humans raises the ire of the Easily Offended… But I doubt that there’s a specific “Welsh” phenotype that would breed true in other humans, so I don’t think the Welsh would even qualify as a breed. They’re not that inbred.

    So that only leaves “culture”. Whatever that is. Mostly a matter of opinion, I believe.

  17. Surely, and following Tractor’s link above with regard to the DNA influences, if it’s Welsh as opposed to North Walian (for example), it’s the same as whatever we think the English, Scots or Irish are in this context?

    What are the English?

  18. “in the roman era the Celts were a cultural grouping rather than a race”: nowadays they are …

    Well, there is undoubtedly a language group called Celtic. Otherwise applying “Celtic” to Britons, Bretons, and Paddies seems to be a romanticised notion introduced in the 17th and 18th centuries.

  19. It’s a a state of mind

    My daughter was interviewed when we had our Canadian citizenship as it was the 150 year anniversary so they were doing a documentary and the interviewer asked her as she was 4 when we moved and had a Canadian accent now if she was now Canadian and she replied with sufficient disdain to shut him up that she would always be Welsh.

  20. Rhoda K: “I never tick that census box”

    Plan B is deliberately to corrupt the data set. If enough of us do that, then the usefulness of the data is compromised, and the administrative jobsworths will have to find something else to do.

    Since everything is fluid these days, I believe that I am now the Palestinian Lesbian Differently-Abled Single Mother of Color that has been yearning inside me to be set free from a white male body. The only box I refuse to tick is the one that says I speak Welsh.

  21. I never tick or answer any question to do with gender, race, colour or anything else demanded by progressives in pursuit of their aims.

    I will answer the sex question if, and only if, it’s a medical questionnaire as it could be important when it comes to treatment.

  22. I will answer the sex question if, and only if, it’s a medical questionnaire as it could be important when it comes to treatment

    I’m always a bit wary of any medical professional who can’t tell if I’m a man or a woman just by looking at me.

  23. Difficult one that, apparently women now have Adam’s apples, broad shoulders and big hands. Plus cocks.

  24. @BiG, @BiND

    Human or MYOB are my stock answers

    @jgh December 7, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    +1 Census: not returned last time

    @Grikath December 7, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Up until late 1990’s identifying NI folks on NI/Scotland ferries was relatively easy as most NI were short, dark haired and very pale.

  25. @Tim W
    @BiG

    Something to get your teeth into

    Researchers link permanent hair dye to breast cancer .mp4

    Black vs White stats very interesting (genes? lifestyle?). @2min “still low risk” – truth not fear from Sky Aus

  26. Pcar,

    Every month or two I teach a CME course on statistics in medicine. Mostly applied to clinical trials, but the fun part of the course explains why almost all of this kind stuff is total bullshit. Unfortunately, unless you are a German medical resident you won’t have seen it.

    The short explanation is that these studies test many hypotheses. The number of hypotheses you can test is limited only by the amount of data you collect (the number of correlations you can test for rises exponentially with the number of pieces of information collected), and most of that data is unreliable(1). Even if it is reliable the sheer number of things you can look at means that some are guaranteed to meet the standard threshold for “statistical significance” despite being entirely spurious, and can be reported (2).

    A completely negligible relative risk of 9% is typical of the genre(3). And there will of course be a whole slew of subgroup analysis you can do and pick the one that shows the biggest difference between subgroups (in this case black versus white women) to crow about.

    (1) “How often did you use hair dye” is going to generate a lot of inaccurate data, but you would be amazed how inaccurate the answers to “have you ever had breast cancer” can be. I illustrate this with data from a gold-standard clinical trial of an oral contraceptive showing that in the third year of treatment none of the patients had a single headache between them – the notion of an oral contraceptive that prevents headaches raises much mirth.

    (2) Theoretically, 5% of “positive” conclusions in the medical and social sciences are incorrect. Of course the proprtion of published claims that is incorrect is much higher. It’s in the nature of junk epidemiology that the overwhelming majority of claimed correlations are due to the vagaries of sampling.

    (3) Relative risks are worthless for interpreting the value of changing something to modify your absolute risk of something relatively rare happening, and even though breast cancer is extremely common as life-threatening diseases go, most rational people would probably conclude that a 9% relative risk is acceptable, given that the alternative is to be overwhelmed with thousands of different lifestyle choices that microscopically adjust risk for all the various things that can kill you.

  27. @BiG

    Thanks for that – I’m sure your German colleagues are lucky to have you. I’d argue that teaching a decent understanding of basic stats to all school leavers would be far more useful as a life-skill than arithmetic (we have calculators) or learning a (non-English) language (we have Google translate).

    Look at the climate ’emergency’, we’re forever learning that it’s been the hottest/driest/coolest/wettest/… (November) for 100 years therefore climate change. But there are 12 months, 4 seasons (plus a year) in every year and easily half-a-dozen different weather ‘extremes’, which gives you 100 stats to pick from, which gives a better than even chance that at any given instant at least one of them will be a “once in a hundred years” event.

    Or opinion polls, where movements well within the margin of error are pored over in the manner of a fortune teller reading the tea-leaves. I could go on …

  28. Isn’t the answer to the sex question ‘Yes, please’?

    BiG: I really liked your post in answer to Pcar. In my case I was conned into taking pills prescribed by my doctor, the side effects of which after long term dosing were far, far, worse than the original complaint.

    The problem with a ‘correlation isn’t causation’ philosophy is that it is too short by a word: ‘necessarily’, ‘always’ or ‘often’. However, if there isn’t correlation, then there certainly isn’t causation, and among academics (including medical researchers) there is a big pressure to be the first to discover something. It turns them dishonest.

  29. A Welsh/British writer as late as the 9th century referred to his countrymen as citizens – in other words still Romans. Hence the suggestion that the Western Roman Empire ended only with the Anglo-French conquest of North Wales.

  30. ‘correlation isn’t causation’: true.

    I sometimes write ‘correlation ≠> causation’ – is that any better?
    (I’d say it as ‘correlation needn’t imply causation’.)

    For some people, even otherwise intelligent people, it’s a pons asinorum. My most recent experience of that was with a GP.

  31. Chris,

    A former colleague and I are trying to do just that and put together a 2-day course on how to actually do science, where knowledge comes from, that stuff. We’re rarely good at making the most boring stuff imaginable fun and entertaining – and that stays in the memory much longer than any dreary science lecture. It’s targeted at brand new freshers. If it’s acceptable and we can get past the closed shop that is university teaching (we both used to do it but don’t any more), we might just give up the day job and go on tour.

    The impetus was realising that during a lenghty education and (mercifully brief) academic career, we were never actually taught the thinking and philosophical part of science, it was assumed that would be absorbed as you went along. Combine that with the fact that education is so much worse than it used to be (hasn’t it always been thus…) and we see a gap in a market, even if not an especially lucrative market. But I work mostly for the lols these days anyhow.

  32. @BiG

    Thanks for replying, as others said very informative

    I liked how Sky Aus pointed out it was still low-risk instead of usual msm full-on fear-mongering

    The white/black discrepancy was what stood out to me, however the base report included hair-straighteners and few whites use that. Maybe the hair-straighteners are the issue, but racist?

    @Chris Miller

    +1 on climate ’emergency’: eg Venice “highest for 50 years, due to ACC” – OK, what caused it 50 years ago?

    @BiG December 8, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Hope you succeed. Timmy is a good example of making things (Economics) understandable

    Another example: Carnival/Fairground Scam Science

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