Is it about time to ditch the BAME tag in Britain?

Is it about time to ditch the BAME tag in Britain?
Courtesy: Uniquely India via Getty Images

“Use of the term BAME, which is frequently used to group all ethnic minorities together, is no longer helpful. It is demeaning to be categorised in relation to what we are not, rather than what we are: British Indian, British Caribbean and so on.

“The BAME acronym also disguises huge differences in outcomes between ethnic groups. This reductionist idea forces us to think that the principle cause of all disparities must be majority versus minority discrimination.”

This is an excerpt from the new Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, commissioned by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic – or BAME – has long been used as a reference point for any and all ethnic minorities in Britain. But, as the findings of this new report into addressing the country’s race disparity issues suggest, it may be time to move beyond such generalisations and become more specific with ethnic identities – British Indians being one example.

The Great British Indian Survey

While Boris Johnson has said that Downing Street will now be considering all the recommendations of this “important piece of work” in detail and assesses the implications for future government policy, Meanwhile, ‘iGlobal’ is launching its own Great British Indian Survey to ascertain the true feelings of the Indian diaspora around one of the central findings of the report.

  • Do British Indians want the term BAME to be history?

  • Do they find the term BAME offensive?

  • Do they identify with ‘British Indian’ as a truer reflection of their ethnicity?

The idea is to get a pulse of the community and how we perceive this issue of categorisation because labels and tags must reflect our lived experiences accurately.

Recent research by the think tank British Future found that most ethnic minority Britons slightly prefer “ethnic minority” as an umbrella term, with two-thirds (68 per cent) saying they either support or accept the term, and 13 per cent opposed to it.

So, it would seem it is about time there was some consensus on the matter.

Model community

In some of the other key findings of the review released this week, the British Indian community overall emerged as high-achieving in academics and also result professionally. The 258-page report recommends the Department for Education (DfE) must invest in “meaningful and substantial research” to understand and replicate the underlying factors that drive the success of the high performance of pupils from ethnicities such as British Indians.

“This outstanding performance is in part due to what is termed ‘immigrant optimism’: a phenomenon where recent immigrants devote themselves more to education than the native population because they lack financial capital and see education as a way out of poverty. In practice, this means there are significant factors at play that can help groups overcome their socio-economic status and succeed,” the report notes.

“In fact, as of 2019, the ethnicity pay gap – taking the median hourly earnings of all ethnic minority groups and the White group – is down to just 2.3 per cent and the White Irish, Chinese and Indian ethnic groups are on average earning notably more than the White British average,” it adds.

The report also finds Indians are among those with the highest net property wealth, living in good neighbourhoods and overall tend to see “fewer obstacles and less prejudice” in British society.

Among its other recommendations, the independent commission calls for greater focus on Commonwealth influences on Britain, including a new dictionary that traces words of Indian origin.

“We want to see how Britishness influenced the Commonwealth and local communities, and how the Commonwealth and local communities influenced what we now know as modern Britain. One great example would be a dictionary or lexicon of well known British words which are Indian in origin,” the review suggests.

*The Great British Indian Survey will run through the month of April. Let us know your views on whether the term BAME should be history on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

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