BAME HUB-UK NETWORK C.I.C. is a non-profit organisation that works with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in the U.K. The term “BAME” stands for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic, which is widely used in the U.K. to describe individuals belonging to non-white ethnic groups. However, using this terminology has been debated among researchers, activists, statutory and non-statutory organisations, and individuals who identify as members of BAME community groups.
Critics of the term BAME argue that grouping people under the umbrella term “BAME” homogenises the experiences of individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds, erasing their distinct cultural, linguistic, and historical differences. Furthermore, the term fails to acknowledge the power dynamics between different ethnic groups, with black individuals more likely to face systemic racism and discrimination.
On the other hand, supporters argue that the term BAME is necessary to address the structural inequalities faced by individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds. It helps to draw attention to the disproportionate impact of systemic racism and discrimination on these groups, enabling policymakers and researchers to gather data and analyse patterns of inequality more comprehensively. We conducted a survey to test the use of BAME terminology and found that 70% of the respondents strongly opposed the government banning the term. While the Commission on Race Ethnic Disparities (CRED) report released on 31st March 2021 states that the BAME or B.M.E. terminology is no longer valid, it may still be necessary to collectivise the experiences of the BAME community. The study had a participation rate of 53.62% females and 46.38% males. The study included whether participants supported or opposed the government’s ban on BAME terminology. The findings showed that 70% strongly oppose the ban, 20% strongly support it, 5% somewhat support it, and 2.5% neither support nor oppose it.
Additionally, 2.5% somewhat oppose the ban. Another question asked whether replacing the BAME acronym with “Ethnic minority” would hinder anti-racist efforts to advocate for structural/systematic racism faced by Blacks, Asians, and other ethnic groups. 50.72% of participants answered yes, 28.99% answered no, and 20.29% gave varied reasons. Surprisingly, the study found that 76.81% of participants were Black British/African and Afro Caribbean, 13.04% were Black, and of mixed race, 1.45% were White British, and 7.25% were other races.
Overall, we are happy to use the BAME terminology as no good terminology can be used to define or categorise BAME communities. However, we acknowledge that challenges differ across BAME communities, and it is essential to tailor the needs as required, not using a one size fits all approach. While other racial terminologies exist, such as “people of colour” (P.O.C.) or “visible minorities,” “global majority”, prosperous communities” “ethnic minority”, etc., they too have been criticised for being too broad or too narrow. Ultimately, BAME communities are interested in fair treatment, equity, equality, justice, and zero structural inequality, racism and discrimination.
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