Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Boris Johnson's Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was set up last summer, is said to be focusing on putting an end to the use of the term BAME.
In light of last years Black Lives Matter protests, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set up the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities to review racial inequality in the UK. The commission is now reportedly set to recommend that public organisations no longer use the term BAME.
So far the news that the generalised term, which stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, may be scrapped has been widely welcomed, with many agreeing that the label is outdated and far too generalised. One source cited by The Telegraph said that the use of the term had become “unhelpful and redundant." They also added that it takes away from the experiences of individual groups.
Many have been campaigning to put a stop to the use of the term for quite some time now, including the likes of Jessica Lee who founded 'The Abolish BAME Campaign' with the objective to remove"the term ‘BAME‘ from mainstream conversations on race and ethnicity." In response to recent reports that the Racial Disparities Commission will be setting out to put an end to its use, 'The Abolish BAME Campaign' wrote “BAME’ is a problematic term that allows organisations to lump minority ethnic communities into one tidy group. Cultural heritage shouldn’t be treated like a box-ticking exercise, so we welcome the recommendation to 10 Downing St by the racial disparities commission.”
However, some have expressed concerns in regards to what the term will be replaced with. Others have also expressed worry that the commission will be more focussed on symbols as opposed to actual substance. In response to reports stating that the main objective of the commission is to scrap the use of the label BAME, director of Runnymede Dr Halima Begum said "Seriously? Is that the extent of this government’s awareness or intent to resolve structural racism in our country?”
Overall, people are in agreement that the use of the term BAME should be stopped but the worry comes as a result of fears that the commission won't go on to achieve much else. Speaking on the matter, the Labour Party's shadow equalities minister Marsha de Cordova said "We need to see the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities acknowledging and addressing structural racism across government in health, education and criminal justice. We need a race equality strategy with clear ministerial responsibility and a Race Equality Act to undo centuries of racial discrimination.”
Despite current reports, Downing Street have yet to officially confirm that one of the main proposals for the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities will based around getting rid of the term BAME. However, a spokesperson for the PM has indicated that Downing Street would be in support it, saying"The government doesn’t routinely use the terms ‘BAME’, or ‘BME’, because they are not well understood in user research, and because they include some groups and not others.” The spokesperson also assured that the report would be submitted to Boris Johnson this week and an official government response is to be expected "in due course."
As it stands the commission currently consists of representatives from fields such as science, education, broadcasting, economics, medicine, policing and community organising, as appointed by Boris Johnson. The PM previously stated that he hopes a “positive agenda for change” will come as a result of the commission.
In the words of 'The Abolish BAME Campaign' "BAME’ is a flawed term that enables organisations to lump minority ethnic individuals together and disregard the unique identity and needs of wildly different communities" and we are pleased to hear that we could be seeing an official end to use of the term.
Are you hopeful that the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities will evoke positive change? What term would you like to see used as opposed to BAME? Join the conversation! As always we would love to hear your thoughts so don't hesitate to get in contact and share them with us. Either drop us a message - firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us via our social media channels.