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BAME, Bame, bame - where did this acronym/word appear from? All of a sudden it was around, used by many to describe Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. What do you all think of this word? Is it a good description of people who are none white? Do you identify as BAME? I don't, I identify as Black and don't like catch all/category words. Surely I am not the only person who does not like the word. Who chose the word BAME anyway? It was certainly not chosen by us.

It is used to group together everyone who is not white - one homogeneous group. All categorised in the BAME group do not share the same experiences. Each group is different. Does it hide the true struggles of Black employees and candidates? Organisations have used the word BAME to group together important and distinctive groups of ethnic minorities and to inflate figures to show how diverse their organisations are when they are still suffering from a lack of diversity. The word BAME is a box ticker! Employers can be anti-black in their recruitment policies but hide behind saying they have BAME employees because that box is ticked.

Shall we refer to people as their correct nationalities - the Black community, the Asian Community etc. It would be great to hear your views on the word. Please do sign up to join my community www.allyship.co.uk

Abi has asked me to share this post. Abi is a thought leader in D&I and is an anti-racist trainer.

I know that many people are only just waking up to acknowledging and accepting that racism is still very much alive in the world - especially those that live in the UK. Slowly, people are having conversations that they were either too scared or too uncomfortable to have regarding race. So, I appreciate this is another thing people are going to have to learn but it’s just as important and definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. I have been asked a few times if the adjective Black should be capitalised in the context of racial identity and my answer is abso-damn-lutely! We capitalise White, Native and Latinx when talking about race so why not Black?!

Some people (Black included) might be more relaxed about using a capital “B” when talking about Black people so this a quick reading piece for everyone irrespective of what your race might be. Capitalising “B” to represent Black people should not be a typographical oversight as doing this means you’re overlooking the people that we have collectively come to be.

There’s so much weight in the power of language when we read and write, and the history of language is partly what solidified Black people as bottom of the barrel citizens (or whatever came last). To give a brief history of what I mean, the fate of how Black people identify themselves has always been left down to White people to juggle however they see fit.

The Pew Research Centre noted “Black people have gone from ‘Slaves’ (1790) to ‘black’ (1850) to ‘negro’ (1900) to ‘Negro’ (1930) to ‘Negro or Black’ (1970) to ‘Black or Negro’ (1980).”

In an 1878 editorial titled “Spell it with a Capital,” Ferdinand Lee Barnett, the founder of a weekly newspaper that entered around Black issues (similar to The Voice in the UK), highlighted “that the failure of white people to capitalise “Negro” was to show disrespect to, stigmatise, and ‘fasten a badge of inferiority’ on Black people.” It was there to remind us of our place in society.

Throughout history a lot of powerful western countries didn’t even want to put salutations in front of a name when addressing Black people thus continuing to dehumanise them. This is why reclaiming language that as a positive catalyst about the identity of Black people has been an important part of the struggle for racial justice.

We need to remember that Black with a capital B refers to people of the African and Caribbean diaspora, one whose existence has historically been plagued by oppression and worse, erasure. Lowercase B refers to the actual colour, like a crayon.

Black people have overcome some extraordinary times throughout history and a lowercase “b” doesn’t represent that. There’s nothing lowercase about what we have achieved over the past 400 years and what we continue to achieve today. In the middle of police officers kneeling on our necks and Amy Coopers using our skin complexion as weapons, still we rise. The lowercase ‘b’ indicates that we’re small and have no weight behind us.

I ask you to look around you and to inhale what’s been happening over the past few months. Does that seem lower case to you? When the social media posts showing solidarity with Black struggle start to quieten down and the hashtags are no longer trending, Black people will still face enormous adversities.

Black people have moved mountains when all the odds have been stacked against us and there’s absolutely nothing small about the what we have contributed to the world. Whether it’s in sports, economics, literature, media or just the right to walk into a store without being followed, we’re continuing to break oppressive barriers and we’ve certainly earned the right to have our identity capitalised.

Abi Adamson - D&I/Talent/KL100 Member

In recent days, people have been having more open honest conversations about racial inequality. I have observed these conversations have found that there seems to be a key underlying theme.

Many still perceive racism and racial inequality to be incredibly overt experiences or as psychologists called them, “microassaults”. This is the view that racism is very conscious and involves intentional acts of shouting racial slurs and exhibiting violent behaviour. Of course, this is a key type of racism that many face in our current society, however that’s not the only form of racism. Something we don’t seem to talk much about is microaggressions. The term was first proposed by psychologists in the 1970’s and it has since been updated. Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defined microaggressions as "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership". This can be intentional or unintentional and is directed at underrepresented groups. It can often be unclear to both the victim and the person making the comment. Regardless, it’s impact is still dangerous. So let’s give you some real life examples that I have experienced and many of my friends and family have experienced on a frequent basis. Many people of colour are often assumed not to be “from” the country they are currently in. Examples of some microaggressions around this include: “Where are you from, no... where are you REALLY from?” “You speak English really well!” “Where were you born?” By saying these statements, you are implying that this person is a foreigner in their own country, they are not a national citizen and don’t “look” like they belong. You’ll find that people of colour will hear this statement frequently in comparison to their White counterparts. I’ve heard some of these statements all my life, and have come to accept that I’ll never be truly seen as British. Colour evasiveness is also a huge issue when many marginalised voices speak about their personal experiences of racial inequality. Examples include: “There is only one race, the human race” “I don’t care if you’re black, brown, blue or purple!...” “When I look at you, I don’t see colour” The message that these statements give is that you are denying a person of colour’s racial or cultural experiences. These statements indicate that you do not want to acknowledge race. However, the aim is not to become colour blind. Colour blindness implies that race based differences don’t matter or exist which ignores the issues of racial inequalities. Another key microaggression which I’m sure we’ve all heard of before is the denial of individual racism. “I’m not racist. I have Black friends.” I don’t have a huge amount to say on this other than, no, you are not immune to racism just because you have Black friends or know people of colour. This is an excuse to deny racism and racial biases. Many people of colour have become so used to hearing these types of statements. The long term impact of them can be incredibly damaging on one’s identity and mental health. Particularly as we are constantly questioning what just happened when we hear these statements directed at us. It also means victims are constantly trying to prove they belong in a non-aggressive way as this will be faced with stereotyped judgements. These statements are not incredibly overt, but they are still painful and rooted in racism. If you have read this thinking that you are guilty of these microaggressions, then you’ve already achieved the first step, acknowledgement. Self-awareness is always the first step to combatting long term issues that may have become habits or seemed unintentional.

As Psychologist Teran puts it, “commiting a microaggression is not indicative that we're bad people - it’s more indicative of a society where the dominant world view tends to be Eurocentric, masculine and heterosexual." About the author: Priyanka is a Learning and Development Specialist and Organisational Psychologist, passionate about creating impactful change through developing learning solutions to combat racial inequality, sharing personal experiences as a woman of colour, and working to become the best ally possible for marginalised voices. Sources:

Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation Book by Derald Wing Sue https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/01/microaggressions

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