David Lammy's passionate reaction after calls to scrap term 'BAME'

29 March 2021, 12:13

By Fiona Jones

The term BAME is "unhelpful and redundant" and should be scrapped, the Prime Minister's racial disparity commission is set to report. This was David Lammy's response.

The acronym - which stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic - overshadows the fact that people from different ethnic groups have varying life experiences and should not be grouped together in one umbrella term, the commission found. 

"Thank God they've got there!" exclaimed David, "I've said for ages that the term is lazy, it's impersonal. I don't like being described as jargon. I'm not jargon. I'm black, I'm English, I'm British and I'm proud.

"I want my identities recognised appropriately...I'm of African descent, African-Caribbean descent but I am English."

David reflected on the history of labelling non-white or mixed heritage people in the UK, and how it has evolved over time.

"The problem is, it just groups everyone together and there are very different experiences in Britain if you are Somali in origin...or if you are Pakistani.

"Very very differences in education, in health, yet we're grouped together."

He questioned why, having just completed the Census form, he could not tick a box saying he was Black and English.

In the US, David pointed out, they use the term "people of colour": "I think they do that because they say that racism is real, structural racism is real, and it affects people of colour. It's not to say that there aren't other ethnic groups but it is to give a nod to racial discrimination that usually works in relation to people of colour and complexion, relative to white population."