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Rus Slater

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wording~ a question regarding E&D issues?


I've been doing some general research and have noticed one particular phrase crop up several times; it strikes me as odd.

The phrase is "black and ethnic minority people".....

Do "black" people in Britain not count as members of an "ethnic minority"?  

Or is it just a stock phrase such as "hard-working families"?

Can anyone enlighten me?

(PS it was also printed in a document (written and used by a government department) that was about E&D issues and a black delegate asked me this question and I had no idea why the differentiation was drawn)

3 Responses

  1. I’ll have a go! …

    Hi Rus,
    My understanding (which could be wrong!) is that the term ‘black’ (as an adjective) is used to refer to non-white groups – with heritages in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean – who share a common experience of British racism. This is the use of ‘Black’ in a political sense. It can be used to describe people with Black skin (although some people of Asian background find the term offensive when applied to them.
    Government Departments, public sector, etc also have to collect statistical data on other ethnic minority groups who are not black (Jewish people, Eastern Europeans, etc) The term ‘Visible ethnic minority’ is also used, but this would be a different group of people (And often in both cases the words ‘ethnic’ and ‘minority’ are shown the other way around).
    I do accept that ‘black’ could be included within ‘visible ethnic minority’ or ‘ethnic minority’, however, I believe the ‘black’ continues to be present to recognise the common experience of British racism.
    Consequently, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) appears to be the inclusive and acceptable term for people from a minority group.
    Hope that helps!
  2. Good question!

    Thanks for raising this Russ –

    I’ve always wondered about the term BME too –

    I don’t have an answer for this one, just empathy!

    Pilar Orti

  3. thanks for the “answer”

    Thanks for the answer, it would be "nice" to know if your understanding is actually the "correct" answer but It doesn’t look as if we are going to get a definitive response!


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Rus Slater


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