17 Jul 2020
Our Thoughts on the Term BAME
The term BAME has a history of controversy, of being questioned or rejected outright. The word has its roots in an anti-racist movement from the 1970s in which outcasted ethnic groups joined together in order to fight against discrimination. Since, BAME has become increasingly prevalent in our vernacular, particularly over the last couple years. While the ubiquity of the term in society undoubtedly has it merits, the worry is that the term is reductive and it can be used lazily with little thought into the people it encompasses. Take a look at some recent articles here and here.
Most people who fall into the category of BAME would never self-identify as such, which is indeed a problem. We support the right to reject the BAME label, to self-identify in the way that feels most authentic to you. However, in its practical applications, we think it important to remember the anti-racist purposes of its birth into our language, to recall the reasons why there was a need for such a ‘catch-all’ term in the first place, reasons which are still very much relevant today. The broadness of BAME undeniably lumps groups together into a shorthand. This means it can be misused, thrown about unduly. However, it can also be beneficial in that it signposts the mission of an organisation or investigation, a mission to make a priority the ethnic groups that receive undue discrimination. What is vital moving forward is that the term is not relied on too heavily, that we move past the acronym. Whilst we are still fighting to level the playing field, words like BAME and other buzzwords that have been criticised such as diversity and inclusion, we feel are necessary.