BAME – Another Misleading Acronym

There is a new acronym being used in political circles, namely BAME, which stands for Black, Asian, and (other) Minority Ethnic people. Usually the word “other” is missed out, suggesting that Blacks and Asians are not a minority, but something else. Unusually in race matters, BAME is one expression which has not been imported from the USA, but seems to have originated in the British Civil Service, or one of the numerous quangos paid for by it. Lumping all non-White ethnic minorities together hardly makes sense when, for instance, Black people have strikingly different Covid-19 death rates (weighted for age) than do Asians (about twice as many).

Now we have just had law-breaking in our country on a large scale orchestrated by the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a US movement organised among Blacks and students there, which has just held demonstrations in major British cities including London and Bristol where there were numerous attacks on property and the police.

The sight of metropolitan police officers bending their knee to the demonstrators instead of arresting them for breaking the Covid regulations on distancing and assembly, plus a picture in the Daily Telegraph of a black fist pushed into the face of a police officer trying to hold back the tidal wave of law-breaking demonstrators, are likely to remain in the minds of the readers of both the Telegraph picture and syndicated versions around the world, for a long time.

Here we are 12 weeks into the most dangerous pandemic since the flu epidemic at the end of the First World War 100 years ago, facing economic disaster, and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner can’t pluck up enough courage to ban the demos in London as she had the powers to do. Or having a ban ignored, she could have used the settled technique to break up crowds into small groups and arrested those who refused to disperse.

Black people in Britain are not actually the largest ethnic minority in the UK (unlike in the USA)

When Blacks in the crowd were asked what they actually wanted, they mainly replied, “I just want justice”. The incident which sparked these demonstrations in Britain actually happened in Minnesota in the USA some 5,000 miles away. Police-demonstrator confrontations are completely different in Britain from those in the USA. Here it is police which tend to get seriously injured rather than the demonstrators.
After a social media protest about a police-Black confrontation, BBC Look East TV broadcast interviews with young blacks in the street who said the UK is a deeply “racist” country with “racism in the DNA”. This grievous insult coming just 8 weeks after the 75th anniversary of the liberation by British troops of Belsen Concentration Camp where 30,000 lay dead and 60,000 almost dead, went completely unchallenged by the BBC interviewer and the programme presenter. If a defined group repeatedly insults the country they are living in, they cannot expect to be accepted as part of that country by its indigenous inhabitants.

Because of the common language, events in the USA are often headlined in Britain, but the ethnic minority situation is quite different in Britain, both for historical reasons and because the numbers and proportions are very different.

Actual Data about numbers of the population

First, in Britain, the latest census data from the Office of National Statistics, distinguishes British-born from non-British-born. Almost all British-born will be citizens. Non-British-born will be a mixture of those who have acquired citizenship and those who have short-term residency or long-term leave to remain. Only British citizens have a right to vote in national elections. Perhaps 30-40% of the non-UK Black and Asian people have British citizenship.

The last census picked out many sub-categories, but the main categories of residents in England and Wales with British-born and non-British-born lumped together were:

White 86.2%
Asian 7.4% (3.6% British-born)
Black 3.2% (1.8% British-born)
Others 3.2%

Expressed in another way, 1 in 13 are Asian and 1 in 31 are Black, i.e. of African or Caribbean descent. If only British-born are counted, that is 1 in 28 and 1 in 55 respectively. These are very small numbers to receive so much attention.

Representation of Ethnic Minorities in the UK Media

Black people at 1 in 31 of the UK population of 67 million are clearly over-represented in the visual media and sport, as any evening’s viewing of current British TV News and Advertising will confirm. The disproportion is even greater, if only Black British citizens are counted. The reason for this would seem to be the widespread belief among London-based programme makers, of both film and live shows, that a black person must be included to avoid censure by the regulators of TV programmes and advertising. Why the regulators should deem it right to in effect represent foreigners in their calculations just because they are black is a question which they need to answer. It looks a very racial approach to broadcasting.

Situation in the USA

Here the black population is usually taken as around 13%. On a US population of 331 million, this brings the black population to around 43 million compared with just over 2 million in Britain – a factor of over 20 times different, which means simply the situations of the Black populations in the two countries are totally different. If British-born Blacks are compared with US-born Blacks, the disparity is even greater with the vast majority of US Blacks being US-born, while in Britain, British-born Blacks number only 50% of Blacks living here.

Historical differences between the UK and the USA

Most US Blacks are descendants of those taken to the USA against their will as slaves 200-400 years ago. Despite their reluctance to acknowledge it, Blacks have never been slaves in Britain, the famous judgement in 1772 by the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Mansfield making it crystal clear that were a slave to come into England from elsewhere in the world, he would become a free man the instant he stepped ashore.

Moreover, in 1807 an Act of Parliament forbade British subjects anywhere in the world from engaging in the slave trade, and reinforced the law by the Royal Navy’s anti-slavery patrols of both the Indian and Atlantic oceans. This brought the Royal Navy into conflict with the USA, which only ceased at the end of the American Civil War, when the Lincoln government in 1864 accepted a policy of not opposing the Royal Navy in its role of liberator which continued in the Atlantic and Indian oceans until 1914 when the Royal Navy had even more pressing matters to attend to. This is why so many Black people in South Africa and the West Indies have been called Nelson, including the most famous – Nelson Mandela. Their families recognised Horatio Nelson as being the hero icon of the Royal Navy liberators.

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