ethnic minorities

ethnic minorities
   The labels used to describe Britain’s ethnic minority population have changed over recent decades. It was usual back in the 1950s and 1960s to refer to ‘immigrants’ or ‘coloureds’ but these terms are little used today. ‘Immigrant’ seems less relevant now that a large proportion of the ethnic minorities were born here and ‘coloured’ is often viewed as a condescending and rather meaningless term, the more so as many of those involved have intermarried with the native population. Sometimes ethnic minorities have been known as ‘blacks’, but this too has disadvantages, not least because many of those involved are dark-skinned and some are considerably fairer. No one is literally black, just as no one is literally white. In the last census (2001), the term Black and Ethnic Minority (BEM) was employed and this remains the language used in governmental statistics. According to that survey, the proportion of minority ethnic groups in the UK rose from 6 per cent to almost 9 per cent over the previous ten years, partly as a result of the addition of a new category, mixed ethnic groups.
   ‘Ethnic minorities’ is a convenient, all-embracing term for people of many different origins and skin colours. However, to see those so labelled as in any way homogeneous would be very misleading. We are talking about peoples of very diverse cultural backgrounds, each ethnic group having its own traditions and characteristics.

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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