What is ‘Global majority’ and why is it replacing ‘BAME’?

What is ‘Global majority’ and why is it replacing ‘BAME’?

More and more organisations are ditching the term ‘BAME’ in reference to people of Black, Asian, Indigenous or Latin ancestry, instead opting to use ‘Global Majority’.

This week, the National Trust employed the language while announcing a new training initiative geared towards boosting ethnic representation.

But what does Global Majority mean and why has BAME fallen out of favour?

For many, ‘BAME’ (Black And Minority Ethnic) is clumsy, inaccurate and lumps all people who aren’t white under one tiny, sidelined umbrella, while ‘Global Majority’ is a linguistic attempt to add wider context around their lived experiences; the phrase has been used in the US since the early 2000s, at least.

Moreover, ‘BAME’ fuels a misconception that people from minoritised communities are inherently marginalised, whereas those with African, Asian, Indigenous or Latin ancestry comprise approximately 85 percent of the global population.

Nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population live on the Asian continent, according to official data, while 18 per cent reside in Africa, 9 per cent in the European continent, 8 per cent across Latin America and the Caribbean, 4 per cent in North America and less than 1 per cent in the Oceania region.

As such, so-called ethnic minorities are pretty much only minorities in Europe.

“Understanding that singular truth may shift the dial, it certainly should permanently disrupt and relocate the conversation on race,” said Rosemary Campbell-Stephens, the academic whose work reportedly led to the ‘Global Majority’ term being coined. “I identify as Black, of African Caribbean descent and heritage, specifically, Jamaican parentage. My nationality is British.

“My identity does not exist in relation to whiteness and transcends my geographic place of birth. I am part of the Global Majority.”

Those who argue in favour of adopting language like ‘Global majority’ say it is a way of de-colonising language and pushing back against racism, the notion that people of non-white ethnicities are inferior. Important statistics relating to non-white people, such as population trends or diversity data within institutions, are squashed together which opens floodgates for all manner of misrepresentation and inaccuracies.

‘BAME’ can allow institutions and society to disguise a lack of representation of some groups, by pointing to the inclusion of others. The false indication of racial equality that this often brings across, a veneer of progress, is where serious problems can take hold. It can enable organisations to apply the jargon sporadically and rest on their laurels while executives boast about how they’ve met their diversity quota.

Like the National Trust, other organisations have embraced ‘Global majority’, including Westminster City Council in 2022 and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations last year. The Church of England’s Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce report in 2021 also felt the description “United Kingdom Minority Ethnic/Global Majority Heritage” (UKME/GMH) was more suitable for us than ‘BAME’.

Polling from think-tank British Future the same year found that less than half (47 per cent) of so-called ‘BAME’ Britons were confident about the meaning of ‘BAME’ as a term.

Most ethnic minority Britons (54 per cent) agree that more specific hyphenated identities – such as ‘Black British’ or ‘British Asian’ – can help to make national identity feel more inclusive of people from different backgrounds, according to the same survey.

Not everyone is a fan of ‘Global majority’ though.

Conservative MP John Hayes, who has previously come under fire for criticising anti-racism work, said of the ‘Global majority’ label: “Minorities and majorities are about the context—you can’t use the term ‘majority’ out of context and assume it affords some sort of accurate description.”

“The distortion of language is at the heart of the liberal left agenda. The malevolent minority that control too much of Britain wish to control and limit language as a precursor to limit[ing] what people think. It is deeply sinister and must be resisted at every turn.”

Nevertheless, the government’s own, and controversial, report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) in 2021 denounced the ‘BAME’ term as “unhelpful and redundant” – but failed to suggest an alternative.

Source: independent.co.uk