Today’s big question

Has the term BAME become ‘unhelpful’?

New government-commissioned report suggests scrapping the acronym

The term BAME is “unhelpful and redundant” and should no longer be used by public bodies and companies, a government commission is expected to report this week. 

The independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was launched by Boris Johnson after the Black Lives Matter protests last July, will recommend scrapping the label as one of its “key proposals”, reports The Daily Telegraph

The prime minister will be advised to drop the “blanket term” – an acronym that stands for black, Asian and minority ethnic – after the commission warned it “masks the much more complicated picture of different lived experiences of individual ethnic groups”.  

Rather, the term “ethnic minority” was found to be more popular among people from ethnic minority backgrounds than BAME or “people of colour”. 

The report will also highlight concerns that “companies increasing the number of BAME staff they hire then feel there is no need to tackle other systemic racial problems, inadvertently curbing progress”, reports The Telegraph, which has been given access to the report. 

One insider told The Telegraph: “The commission has taken evidence from across the UK, examined the data to create a rigorous fact-based report on what is often a highly charged debate.

“It was important for commissioners to produce findings based on data and evidence to try and take down the temperature on this issue and have a debate based on the facts, not driven by ideology.”

The Times says critics of the recommendation “might question whether efforts to increase diversity will be complicated by the lack of a single, clear term to track progress”.

Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy told Sky News:  “I think there is a call to move away from it [the term BAME]. The question is what do you replace it with?”

Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor, tweeted that, although he “never liked” the term BAME, “simply stopping its use doesn’t deal with specific issues encountered by minorities”. He accused the government of focusing on “symbols and not substance”.

Former chancellor Sajid Javid, however, seemed to welcome the new proposals, telling LBC’s Nick Ferrari that he “never particularly liked using the word” and the report shows the government is “taking these issues very seriously”.

“It’s a catch-all that doesn’t distinguish between some of the differences between different ethnic minority groups,” he said. 

Johnson announced the creation of the commission after the death in the US of George Floyd, a black man who was killed when a white police officer used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground by his neck.

Floyd’s death sparked a wave of protests across the US and around the world, prompting fresh debate over how to tackle racial inequalities. The trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer accused of killing Floyd in May last year, begins in Minneapolis today, reports the BBC.

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