Diversity in Welsh language literature is dire, the Welsh cultural sector does not care so that's why I am actively backing two great initiatives for better representation.

I cannot find much of myself in Welsh language media, which reinforces the misconception that people like me do not live in Wales or feature in the Welsh-speaking world.

As a young woman of colour growing up in the west, many of us face the pain of being forced into complying with western standards.

As a child, I remember playing computer games, creating what I was told were beautiful characters: blonde girls with fair skin.

I remember reading books and wanting to be those lovely girls. I wanted to have fairer skin and was conscious of how to tie my curly dark hair, in case it looked ‘messy’.

In my teens I would straighten it and even now I will seek to have it ‘straight enough’ to keep it ‘tidy’.

At school I grew focused on certain things, less on others. I would ‘act out’ and ‘rebel’, to the point where many of my teachers thought I would not be capable of going to university.

I knew I would but I would get there my way.

It will come as no surprise to many when I say I am neurodivergent. I got through my undergraduate degree doing many resits, dealing with the mental strain of working in a non-native language, spending days not coping with anxiety and suffering through burnout.

I got politically active and ended up in the public eye and that laid Welsh institutional discrimination bare.

From my friends pointing it out on social media to microaggressions in my everyday life, living in Wales is far from the accepting haven many people believe it to be.

I have often felt it was more noticeable in Welsh-speaking circles, from being referred to as ‘exotic’ to being mocked for the way I speak or simply being spoken at or to in English when I speak in Welsh. I do not fit into western society’s box and across Wales there are people like me.

The first project I’m backing is spearheaded by Rachel Cooze, a mum from south Wales who I can only describe as an unparalleled force for good.

She teamed up with Spectropolis, a south Walian Pay it Forward charitable project which helps autists and their support network, to initially ensure that each school in Swansea is gifted a book centred around diversity of disabilities with the aim of making that same gift pan-Wales.

The books are written by Jon Roberts and illustrated by Hannah Rounding, with one in Welsh for Welsh medium schools.

All three have cited that they are neurodivergent family members, making the writing of these books and the cause important to them as well as families across the country.

Representation through book characters matters but so does representation in authors and a key aspect of addressing the lack of representation in Welsh literature is translation.

Jessica Dunrod, an author of Welsh-West Indian heritage, has set up a fund to support Black British authors and other marginalised voices to translate their books into Welsh.

The funding will help cover the translation fees and support towards publishing and printing costs, with a current target of at least 10 children’s authors to have released Welsh versions of their books within three months of receiving support.

This short-term solution will help diversify Welsh literature and support underrepresented authors, while we look out for more Black Welsh authors and other marginalised Welsh voices to emerge and platform their talent.

These projects are creating a unique opportunity for people to learn about differences between each other and how that does not devalue their worth. It is clear that schools in Wales are desperate for inclusive resources and books. Please support this work.

Giving young people books is how we can educate, increase visibility and awareness of diversity in our society. These kids are our future and it is our duty to equip them with the means to build a fairer, more inclusive Wales and world.

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