The term "BAME"

Hi Everyone,

We are currently writing an equality, diversity and inclusion plan and in that we are setting targets to improve our diversity in respects to staff from ethnic minorities. Throughout the plan we have used the term BAME, however I am aware that this term can be problematic, on top of that we actually want to clarify that we want to improve our diversity in terms of Black, Asian or other ethnic minority staff who may be discriminated against due to the colour of their skin therefore not including white ethnic minorities as we feel that that is where we are unrepresentative of the population where we are based (London). So my question is what are your thoughts on the term BAME? Is there another term that is better? Is there a term that does not include white ethnic minorities in it? I would particularly love to hear from anyone who is BAME and could offer a personal opinion of being referred to by this term, but also just great to hear what terminology other organisations are using?



  • In reply to Robey:

    Also, beware of putting the responsibility onto the affected groups in addition to their day jobs, without giving them the necessary time and support to do this properly.

    I've talked with a few Black and Asian friends lately who have expressed frustration at being expected to fix racism in their organisations when it isn't their problem to fix! They're tired of being required to advocate for themselves, educate white people and do this on top of their day jobs (which of course due to systemic racism they are also expected to do better than their white colleagues), without any consideration given to the additional emotional and time burden of diversity work.

    And Robey - sadly a bunch of white people talking about race is a reflection of lack of diversity within our profession, but at least we are now talking about it. That has to be a step forward on where we were a few months ago, when everyone gladly ignored that there was an issue!
  • In reply to Robey:

    While I cannot help but agree with you Robey, I think this exemplifies one of the problems this (and similar) discussions suffer. We live in a society where (heterosexual) white males are (predominantly assumed to be) privileged. This prevents others engaging in the conversations to establish that this is not so, and/or will not be permitted to be made so (take your pick). The alternatives are not simple; they are, in essence: a) Permit the status quo to remain; b) for white males to at least begin the necessary conversations (making it clear other opinions are welcome and promoted); c) for non-white-non-males-or non-whatever else to begin the conversations themselves, deliberately excluding white-male involvement (or deliberately biasing against it, or its contributions).

    Insofar as option b) relies upon/offers/permits/invites (again, choose an opinion) the involvement of those whose equal empowerment is intended, it seems to be the way to go; however (as in this discussion) instead of making that path an open and genuine display of evidence that equality is welcomed, it often immediately becomes a route littered with "politically correct" stumbling blocks regarding terminologies, history, myths and inaccuracies that in reality need have nothing to do with the progress desired but instead become a new source of exclusion while the white males exercise the privilege they are trying to be rid of to resolve the matter between themselves.....and we end up going nowhere, other then having an interesting but almost entirely irrelevant (to the objective) discussion about who likes and who dislikes a given terminology.

    Call a spade a shovel, or a trowel, or a scoop, or a cabbage: It will still dig holes.

    Refer to me as: Elderly; a "Senior Citizen" Old, or Cauliflowered and I will still be me, still thinking, still breathing, and still being bl**dy-minded. (...And still disliking any of the "socially acceptable" terms for the external appearance of age being applied to me).

    Call me white, pink, purple or polka-dot and I will still reject the teachings of the society I grew up in which believed race made a difference to capability, women were the weaker sex, homosexuality (between males) was a criminal offence and that there were canals on Mars.

    No one term for any state of being will satisfy all those whom it might apply to, no matter what aspect of being is being debated: So why not use whatever term is acceptable in the context of its use, and get on with the discussions that really matter and really demonstrate a commitment to equality? Like equal pay, equal access to education, training, and work based on attainment of the performances those former two facilitate, an equal right to walk home at night without being stopped and searched, and the thousand and one other inequalities we know exist but seem unable/unwilling to simply end.

    Is it really that hard to contemplate, without a(nother) word to newly stereotype it too?

  • In reply to Peter:

    My last crossed with Lesley's, but we seem to be recognising the same problem with different approaches.