Just when you think that there’s a little chink of light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes, the Waterfront’s dazzling and delightful development may be seen as a jewel in our town’s regeneration crown, but bit of an epic fail, even if inadvertently, to name one of the roads ‘Fford Penrhyn’ and shine a spotlight on slavery isn’t it.
To every black person, and many of us white allies too, this name is seen as shameful to still use. It has a dark history with a lasting link to exploitation, Jamaican sugar fortunes, and the transatlantic slave trade.
It’s no dirty little secret either.
Truth be told, this word is well-known in our local minority communities, in the wider world, and there is also absolutely loads of internet info out there – using just the very basic, bog standard search.
A starter for ten is the National Trust’s article, Penrhyn Castle and the transatlantic slave trade. And then why not spend some time exploring what these monikers and memorials, actually mean. You will be amazed and astounded at what was acceptable in our not so distant prejudiced past.
Barry does these beautifully – peaceful, respectful and socially-distanced.
So please show up, and speak up, to prove that our community is cohesive and that we care about all our citizens – whatever the colour of their skin.
Why not carry on your ally ship and catch a bit of that too.
The debate which looks at the need to provide spaces, platforms and opportunities for our LGBTQ+ siblings of different Races, Ethnicities, And Cultural Heritages (REACH) will also be available on You Tube.
As will be the whole weekender of course, which runs live from 8.30pm tonight (Thursday 23rd) right up until the after party on Saturday.
Back to #Black Lives Matter though, and proof that the Penrhyn problem has once again shown how elected bodies continually discount and disregard the lived-in experience of those they represent.
Our Vale Council probably named Fford Penrhyn for what they felt were very different reasons, possibly looking to celebrate culture and heritage links.
Penrhyn means headland, or peninsula – but that is not the first thought that comes to mind for some of us who see it as relating to Lord Penrhyn.
And to be honest, all the other roads in that area are all named after people like Darwin, Livesey and Tapscott, plus it is by no stretch of the imagination a main road to the headland as has been suggested.
So the room has not been read, and that context would contradict the claimed cultural celebration of the Welsh Language.
But, and here’s the rub, was anyone other than the usual suspects consulted.
For me, it’s a no brainer that just adequate representation om decision-making bodies from our minority communities could kick a lot of these issues into touch.
This name is offensive and disrespectful to Black people and this would have been raised if those who decided were a diverse group …not rocket science is it.
We must call this out.
Then we must celebrate our black history – instead of spending time and energy picking ambiguous place names that cause controversy.
And popping up plaques to people like Bob Hope. What did he ever do for Barry, or indeed Wales anyway?
But what about the other pioneers right here from our home town who went on to set the stage locally, nationally, internationally and globally too.
Where’s the blue plaques for these – best the Vale Council get on to the Heritage Lottery Fund who paid for the art installation pronto.
She was the first Black Woman in Wales to manage more than one Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the first in the UK to relocate a service to meet Cultural needs.
And is the first law firm in the UK to hold a Tier 5 Licence enabling her to issue work permits for international artists/entertainers/sports people and those within the creative industries.
So why not join Hilary, at the Penrhyn Protest at the Civic Offices on Saturday to tangibly take the Vale Council to task.
And to fight for the automatic right to not have our town celebrate slave trade history but instead remember our black trailblazers from the past in a very visible way.
I’ll be thinking of you.
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
As a founding member of Stand Up To Racism (Vale) she, promotes the Black-led Campaign Group who, with the strong support of Allies, aim to unite our communities. And also acts as Communications Advisor for the voluntary collective.