The problem with ‘bame’

In its coverage of the shuffled cabinet, the BBC added a note: ‘BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) is a term widely used in the UK to describe people of non-white descent, as defined by the Institute of Race Relations.’ The Institute of Race Relations was founded in 1958, but in 1972, by its own account, it became ‘an anti-racist thinktank’ and began to focus on ‘direct analyses of institutionalised racism in Britain’. Earlier this year, its director Liz Fekete complained about the government indicating it would abolish, as recommended by the Sewell report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, the concept of BAME in data collection. Among

The trouble with ‘BAME’

Are Black people and Asians the same? Are they different from other ethnic minorities? What about Jews? And who do we include when we talk about Asians? Korean, Thai and Chinese people, or those from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India? Does ‘Asian’ refer to a set of skin colours or geographical locations? And what exactly is BAME? One of the hallmarks of a functional democracy is to protect the needs of minority groups. As well as ensuring they are not unfairly discriminated against, we must also make certain adjustments to accommodate their specific needs. But modern sensibilities and sociological fashions risk lumping groups together and simply emphasising differences. The effect of

‘Where I grew up, classical music was diversity’: an interview with conductor Alpesh Chauhan

The first time Alpesh Chauhan conducted Birmingham Opera Company, he was surrounded by rats: six-foot tall rats, singing Shostakovich at the top of their voices. There were singing cops, too, and a marching band wearing bloodstained wedding dresses, and this was all happening in a derelict Edgbaston dance hall best known as a location for the 1980s Central TV drama Boon. Well, of course it was. BOC is the company that staged Mussorgsky in a circus tent and Stockhausen in an abandoned chemical warehouse; its whole point is to upend traditional assumptions about opera. The big difference in its production last year of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk came from the