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Hi this is the Museum Cardiff youth forum. On Tuesday the 11/06/2019 we are taking over the museum’s twitter account to remember a 100 years since the Cardiff Race Riots.

By bringing attention to the 1919 Cardiff Race Riots, we want to look at different aspects of society 100 years ago and compare it with today. The Race Riots help us to understand the history and development of segregation, the effects of war and disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and media bias. The consequences of the riots, including the casualties and deaths caused by the targeted violence affected the residents of Cardiff for two generations and scarred the families of those directly impacted.

Why is this important to remember negative history? Although it is a tough subject to talk about, reflecting on the Race Riots helps to bring light the effect of war, colonialism and prejudice on both society and the lives on individuals, and lets us reflect on what has changed, and what hasn’t.

Have the last 100 years since the riots seen racism be completely wiped out from society? Well, unfortunately not. Racism is still a very real problem that occurs daily and effects many different people from many different backgrounds. However, it is important to note that by looking at census data around the ethnic diversity of Cardiff, society is becoming more and more racially mixed and accepting of other cultures. As a nation, we are hopefully learning to redefine what it means to be Welsh.

What was the role of the press in 1919? During the days that the race riots took place within Cardiff, the aggression was fuelled by racist and biased newspapers headlines which targeted those of ethnic minorities as the culprits of violence and destruction, rather than the victims of racist, targeted attacks that they in fact were. As well as this, it has been documented that the Police dealing with the riots were also acting unfairly towards ethnic minorities. This unfair treatment is highlighted by the records of arrests during the riots; predominantly black men were taken into custody. Some were held for their own protection, but sentencing of suspects after the riots showed even more bias and harsher sentencing for people from a minority ethnic background.

Although society still has a long way to go in terms of ending racism, prejudice and media bias, remembering events such as the 1919 Cardiff Race Riots helps to bring recognition to the ongoing importance of campaigns which aim to end racism and hate crimes, such as Black Lives Matter. Society is not free from racial bias and institutional racism, but we hope that things truly are changing for the better.

The 1919 Cardiff Race Riots also highlights the horror of war and the state of society following the end of the First World War. Many returning soldiers had not only suffered physically from the disastrous effects of the war, but also mentally. Many suffered from shellshock and struggled to reintegrate into society, they were jealous of ‘foreign’ men who they felt had taken over their jobs, homes and women, which contributed towards the rioting in 1919. This is not to say that the actions of these soldiers and others is excused by shellshock but is to highlight the effects of war and importance of mental health services. When we compare it with what we have today, we can see that there have been many developments and we now have a more stable and supporting system of mental health, which recognises PTSD as an actual disorder and offers appropriate treatment for those who have fought in wars.

For Cardiff the result of the 1919 racial tensions was the creation of a deep scar on the city’s history with the mass rioting which began on the 11th of June 1919 and lasted for 3 subsequent days. However, it is hard, even today, to physically trace impact of these events which involved crowds of up to 2,000 people since no permanent markers point out any of the sites to have witnessed rioting during the summer of 1919. There is little official documentation around the riots. We think it is important to remember the Cardiff Race Riots of the 11th – 14th of June 1919 not just in the memories of the affected community but also in school lessons, through public monuments and by heritage institutions. We hope to contribute a small part with our youth forum Twitter Takeover on 11/06/19, a hundred years after the riots. To see our tweets follow @AmgueddfaCymru on Twitter or look for the hashtag #1919CardiffRaceRiots .

 Youth work at Amgueddfa Cymru is supported through the National Lottery Heritage Funds ‘Kick the Dust’ funding. Our youth forum are young people aged 14-25 who care about social justice, heritage and dinosaurs. If you want to join the youth forum get in touch at youth.forum@museumwales.ac.uk

Hands on Heritage - putting heritage into the hands of young people.

 

Dr Sarah Younan

Youth Engagement Coordinator

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