Our diversity journey and where we want to REACH

16 June 2021

Kingsley Napley’s BAME & Allies Network has a new name; we are now the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) group.

Our REACH network is a space where we come together to work towards fostering and maintaining an inclusive workplace, where we can all reach our full potential without fear of discrimination.

What is BAME?
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, known as ‘BAME’, is an umbrella term used in the UK describing people of non-white descent, which is approximately 14% of British people according to the 2011 Census (updated figures have not yet been released). The term stemmed from the idea of ‘political blackness’, which was used by various ethnic minority groups during the UK’s anti-racist movement in the 1970s, resulting from the shared experience of racial discrimination in post-colonial Britain. This later morphed into BAME.

Why move away from BAME?
The term BAME has been increasingly used, knowingly or unknowingly, to mask individual voices and homogenise experiences of individuals of non-white descent. Whilst it is not inherently problematic, there is an inherent issue in attempting to use a ‘catch-all’ when discussing issues of race, ethnicity and cultural heritage. For instance, we heard the term appear more frequently in British media and politics after the Public Health England report published in June 2020, which stated that BAME communities are most vulnerable to COVID-19. The headlines following this often did not mention that the group most at risk from dying from COVID-19 is Black Caribbean’s, as identified by the University of Oxford's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.  BAME is used as a descriptor for a collection of communities, and does not leave room for nuances. It can therefore disguise discrimination between ethnic groups and allow for individual issues to be brushed over.

Following anti-racism protests, in the wake of the brutal deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the US, the Prime Minister set up the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities to examine inequality in the UK. Without commenting on the broader findings of 'The Race Report', it rightly identified that ‘the term ‘BAME community’ feels like a group that is held together by no more than what it is not.’ It argued that the acronym overshadows the fact that people from different ethnic backgrounds have varying life experiences and should not be grouped together in one category.

The term BAME has become increasingly unpopular amongst ethnic minority groups, whilst others are less concerned.

We understand that language matters when talking about identity and we recognise that the acronym BAME does not accurately represent our group’s ethos. We have never operated as a homogenous group, lumping together all our experiences as ‘common’ to all other non-white individuals.

Why we chose REACH.
At Kingsley Napley, we recognise and celebrate our differences and actively avoid homogenising all races and experiences.

Particularly in light of events over the last year sparking a global discussion on the topic of racial injustice, and given the increasing sentiments in the UK that the term BAME is outdated,  it seemed fitting that we choose a new name that better reflects our identity and ethos. 

We understand that there will never be one simple acronym that completely captures the rich and diverse cultures and histories of the ethnic minority groups in the UK. So when choosing our name, we decided to focus on what our group stands for rather than attempting to collectively define who we are. We chose REACH as it encapsulates our focus as a group – promoting equality, understanding and actively taking a stand against discrimination based on one’s race ethnicity or cultural heritage.   

Though our name has changed, our aims as a group remain the same. We are united in our purpose to strive towards creating an inclusive workplace and wider community for all.

Find out more about our R.E.A.C.H group by clicking here

About the author 

Lavanya is a paralegal in the family and divorce team at Kingsley Napley, having joined the firm in November 2018.

Lavanya assists with a variety of cases in the family team including divorce proceedings, financial cases and contentious children matters. She liaises with both existing and prospective clients, counsel, experts and third parties. She is actively involved in cases; preparing court documents and bundles, collating financial disclosure and researching points of law. Lavanya read Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and graduated in 2018.

Lavanya is fluent in Tamil.

 

 

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