5.1. Case One: State: Presence/Absence as Assumption
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CERD), chaired by Dr. Tony Sewell, CBE, was established by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the summer of 2020. CERD was purportedly commissioned to investigate racial and ethnic disparities in the UK in the aftermath of the global protests against the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA (CERD 2021
). Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report
, commonly referred to as the Sewell Report
, was released in March 2021 to almost universal condemnation by community groups, civil society, institutions, and even the United Nations. The 258-page report was also disavowed by several members of CERD after its publishing, as they claimed significant portions were edited or rewritten before publication (Iqbal 2021
). The general findings of the report framed racism in the context of how it looked fifty years ago and found that because matters have changed or improved somewhat for racialised minorities, racism is no longer the problem that it once was. Moreover, despite the Macpherson Report
from 1999 finding the opposite, the Sewell Report
found there to be no evidence of systemic, structural, or institutional racism in the UK, and that much of what is assumed to be racial disparity is usually due to more “complex” issues excluding race, such as geography, economic status, culture, religion, and family structure. Examples of successes by some minoritised communities are used to support these arguments, as well as claims that the more positive narratives are underreported because they are not of much interest to the media.
Being a government-commissioned and sanctioned report, it is particularly fascinating to explore how the topics of race and ethnicity are shaped and talked about at the state level. The state plays a pivotal role in the defining and constructing of racialised categories, groupings, and communities (Anderson 1991
; Omi and Winant 2015
; Sims and Njaka 2020
). The report uses racialised categories and guides on how—and how not—to use them. At the same time, the report makes an argument against racisms present in the UK while employing race and racialisations—the very tools that maintain racisms.
In the UK, mixed race is constructed as a minoritised group, regardless of the specific racial backgrounds found within a given group (Sims and Njaka 2020
). Nevertheless, when race is being discussed, the Black, Asian, and Other ethnicity groups typically receive more specific focus than the Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups. This can be seen in the acronym BAME, which refers to the three “singular” ethnicity groups specifically (with “Minority Ethnic” closely aligning to the Other ethnicity group) but does not explicitly mention Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups. Indeed, it is not until a late footnote where the Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are explicitly referred to as ethnic minorities, distinguished from White ethnicities (including minoritised White ethnicities) by UK government (CERD 2021, p. 132n
). Although never a legal framework in the UK, this indicates that the state relies on paradigms of hypodescent to conceptualise Mixed or Multiple ethnic backgrounds as being distinct from all forms of Whiteness. To be “part-White” is to be “non-White.”
Perhaps the most prominent recommendation from the Sewell Report
is to “[d]isaggregate the term ‘BAME’” and “[s]top using aggregated and unhelpful terms…to better focus on understanding disparities and outcomes for specific ethnic groups” (CERD 2021, p. 14
). The report also goes on to advocate for more granular data for the sixteen official UK ethnic groups and criticises the “Big 5” level of aggregation, which collects and reports at the White, Mixed or Multiple, Asian, Black, and Other ethnicity groupings (CERD 2021, p. 33
). Although this is a positive recommendation for improving understandings of race and racisms in the UK, it lays bare a predicament for understanding mixed race. Currently, the Mixed or Multiple ethnicity group is composed of categories that are themselves aggregated at the ethnicity group level. If when merging ethnic groups into the larger aggregations creates the problem of obscuring vastly diverse experiences and outcomes for White, Asian, Black, and Other ethnicity groups, the same is also the case when grouping, as an example, a Mixed Welsh and Indian person and a Mixed French and Japanese person into the same Mixed White and Asian ethnic category. The current categories available for Mixed or Multiple ethnicity groups already mask the different experiences and outcomes within this diverse group. The groups are already aggregated at their most “specific” level, and when aggregated again at the Mixed or Multiple ethnicity level, they are effectively doubly aggregated.
Despite its own recommendation, however, the Sewell Report
slips quickly from using disaggregated language to aggregating ethnicity groups throughout the majority of the report. This is in line with other research that has shown that government agencies have been increasing the usage of “pan-ethnicities” aggregation since the 2011 census cycle (Aspinall 2021b
). This is especially true for the Mixed or Multiple ethnicity groups and the ways that they are referred to and analysed for the purposes of the report.
White and Black African, White and Black Caribbean, White and Asian, and any other Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are not mentioned equally within the report. Aside from inclusion in tables and figures of data, the most talked about group is White and Black Caribbean and the least talked about is the any other Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, referred to as “Mixed Other” (e.g., CERD 2021, p. 56
). As mentioned above, the report also makes use of aggregation and uses “Mixed ethnicity” and “Mixed ethnic group” as ethnicity group labels.
In addition to terms corresponding to Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, the Sewell Report
also makes use of higher-level aggregations that do not align with the government’s own ethnic category recommendations. An example of this is when the report mentions high instances of family breakdown for “Mixed ethnicity Black children” (CERD 2021, p. 41
). This grouping appears to combine children from the White and Black Caribbean and White and Black African ethnicities, as well as the proportion of any other Mixed or Multiple ethic groups that include other Black ethnicities. Other examples of higher-level aggregation are instances where the Mixed White and Black Caribbean group is combined with the Black Caribbean group, Mixed White and Black Africans are combined with Black Africans, and Mixed White and Asians are combined with Asians. In these instances, assumptions are made that each Mixed or Multiple ethnic group will be analogous enough to the “non-White” ethnicity group, however they are never conversely combined with White ethnicity groups for the purpose of analyses. Instead, there are cases in the report where, for example, aggregated Mixed White and Black Caribbean and Black Caribbean pupils are reported as being the least likely to receive strong General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) in direct contrast to the most likely, presented as disaggregated Indian pupils (CERD: 64). Yet another instance is the combining of any other Asian, Mixed White and Asian, and Asian Chinese into one group (CERD 2021, p. 64
). In all of these cases, there is no justification offered as to why these ethnicities from different ethnicity groups are amalgamated, other than sample size, which does not speak to suitability for comparison. This suggests assumptions of cohesion at the expense of the real differences, conflict, and heterogeneity that have led to them being defined and conceptualised as distinct ethnicities in the UK context.
Pnina Werbner grapples with what she calls the fiction of unity for ethnic communities in the UK; a concept that Peter Aspinall also explores more recently when writing about ethnic minority communities and the COVID-19 pandemic (Aspinall 2021b
; Werbner 1991
). Contrasting the logic of such labels as signifying the commonalities of background, interests, social structure, values and mores, and geography, Werbner problematises the typically externally-defined labels for these imagined communities8
as romanticised and false (Werbner 1991
). Those labels can at times positively stress collective consciousness and actions within the groups they are meant to describe, however Werbner argues that the “…hegemonic struggles within
an ethnic community are as endemic as they are between the minority population and the wider society” (Werbner 1991, p. 78
, emphasis in original). Overlooking the conflicts, struggles, and voices within groupings risks partial or false representation of the groups they are meant to describe, privileging one unifying narrative over the countless others within a community. Using the case study of British Pakistanis, she maps out various areas of diverse identities within the ethnic group along areas of origin and birth, language and religion, and nationality to illustrate what becomes lost under the label “Pakistani”.
The concept of fictive unities can be applied to all UK ethnic groupings. If the official ethnic groups are already examples of fictive unities, then the more broadly aggregated groups are even more fictive and less unified on account of the diversity and conflicts they mask. This is especially the case when trying to isolate and understand Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, which begin as doubly aggregated and vastly diverse because the groups themselves are identified by having more than one ethnic group affinity. The specific ways that racisms affect Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups—in particular, minoritisation and multiple racialisations—is difficult to identify and analyse when combined with groups that experience racisms differently.
Alongside the use of ethnicity group and more broad aggregation, the Sewell Report
regularly mentions the Mixed White and Black Caribbean group alongside the Black Caribbean group. An example of this is when reporting on educational disparities, Black Caribbean and Mixed White and Black Caribbean groups are reported together as being mostly third-generation UK-born (CERD 2021, p. 68
). This is in contrast to the other Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, which are not regularly compared to their minoritised counterparts, or any other ethnic groups. Moreover, it appears that the third-generation status only applies to the Black Caribbean ancestry and not to whatever White ancestry a person may have. Although more tacit than aggregating the groups, this frequent association discursively functions in the same way, which assumes the groups are more similar and cohesive than they may be in practice. At other times, Black Caribbean and Mixed White and Black Caribbean groups are also compared alongside the White British group. These comparisons with the White British groups are used, at least in part, to disprove racisms as reasons for disproportional data. For instance, the report may point to factors such as parental education levels or family structure, neglecting to acknowledge intersectional explanations that would include racialised positioning as a significant factor in shaping social phenomena.
The explanations that the Sewell Report
offers for some of the findings may begin to explain some of the racialised disparities on a broad level, however they do not fit well for the typical demographics within the Mixed or Multiple ethnicity group. The report invokes the theory of immigrant paradigm to explain education disparities. The theory posits that in contrast to “the native population”, recent immigrants focus more on higher educational attainment as a means toward financial security. Similarly, “newcomer optimism” describes how recent immigrants are more optimistic about social mobility prospects (CERD 2021, p. 68
). The report alludes to a variability among the Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups in terms of educational attainment, so it is unclear how these theories would explain those particular disparities. Moreover, when applied to Mixed or Multiple ethnicities, the “non-White” minoritised ethnicities are hyper-focused upon and the White ethnicities (whether majorised or minoritised) are assumed inconsequential or ignored. In the Sewell Report
, immigration status reflects how recent the “non-White” side(s) of the family came to the UK, with no regard to where the White side(s) of the family originate(s) from, or how long ago they migrated to the UK. Despite the official categories including “British” for both Black and Asian ethnicity groups, the report primarily uses “British” in these analyses for White ethnicities, and omits it for Black, Asian, and Mixed or Multiple ethnicity groups. This further reinforces a narrative where “non-White” minoritised groups are perpetually foreign—regardless of how many generations have lived in the UK.
Similarly, selective assimilation theory is used to explain disparities between Black Caribbean and Mixed White and Black Caribbean groups associated together, Indian groups, and Pakistani groups (CERD 2021, p. 69
). Here, the explanation is that Black Caribbean migrants moved into White British working-class areas, whereas Indian migrants from higher socioeconomic classes migrated more diversely and poorer Pakistani migrants moved into areas with more “ethnic segregation”. (CERD 2021, p. 69
). Although this may partially explain the trajectory for a portion of the Mixed White and Black Caribbean group that may be working class, this explanation does not account for the Mixed White and Asian populations as the focus is only on generalisations for two specific Asian groups. As with the application of immigration paradigm theory, the “non-White” side(s) of Mixed or Multiple ethnicity groups are hyper-focused upon at the expense of the White side(s). For Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups that do not include White ethnicities at all, the discrete ways that the individual ethnic groups are generalised about make it difficult for these theories to shed light on the disparities specific to them.
The case study of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report shows examples of White supremacy in action at the state level. In a report that begins by denying institutional, structural, and systemic racisms a priori, the discourses throughout the report illuminate the very racisms the report attempts to deny. This is the case for all minoritised groups in the UK. For Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups in particular, however, the presences and absences of mixed race are an interesting location to examine how race is operationalised and how racisms are perpetuated by the state.
The presence/absence of mixed race at the state level is driven by the assumptions of White supremacy. As agents of the state, CERD made discursive decisions about which ethnic groups are notable and important to include, and which ones are not. Mixed race is present in this report, but not with detail; and the narratives of each Mixed or Multiple ethnic group exploring their diversity and specific disparities are absent. Instead, there are broad assumptions and conjecture about similarities to other minoritised ethnic groups and migrant populations. The lack of acknowledgement of this problem already embedded in the categorisation of mixed race and perpetuated even more broadly reveals the oversight of interest for this significant population and the implicit assumptions of homogeneity or generalisability within the existing categories. It is surprising that given how “new” and “emergent” mixed race is said to be in the UK (Sims and Njaka 2020
), there is neither acknowledgement of previous mixed-race research nor a specific recommendation for more focus and better understanding of this population. Instead of understanding the specific challenges that Mixed White and Black Caribbean, Mixed White and Black African, Mixed White and Asian, and any other Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups face, these assumptions lead to the reclassification of these diverse and dynamic ethnic groups into larger amalgamated pan-ethnic groups, based on nebulous criteria that function to create fictions of unity among the already fictive unities of the official ethnic groups in the UK.
5.2. Case Two: Institution: Presence/Absence as Oversight
The current COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light how racisms are linked to the health outcomes of ethnically minoritised communities in the UK, despite the denial of systemic, structural, and institutional racisms in the Sewell Report
. Very early in the pandemic, it became clear that there were significant ethnic disparities in infection, hospitalisation, and mortality rates (PHE 2020a
). There has been much research identifying racialised disparities in health outcomes and linking racisms to health access and care (e.g., Byrne et al. 2020
; Meer et al. 2020
; Platt and Warwick 2020
; Proto and Quintana-Domeque 2021
). However, among this research, there is an overlooking of mixed race when acknowledging health disparities. This remains true despite calls for further research that focuses on specific ethnic groups (e.g., Aldridge et al. 2020
; Aspinall 2021b
; Bentley 2020
; Meer et al. 2020
; Milner and Jumbe 2020
; Platt and Warwick 2020
; Treweek et al. 2020
Public Health England (PHE) is an independent agency of the Department of Health and Social Care that provides expertise and support to government, parliamentary, health, industry, and public sectors. Early in the pandemic, PHE released two preliminary reports on the observed disparities of COVID-19 infection, hospitalisation, and mortality rates. The first focused more broadly on several types of disparities, and the second focused specifically on ethnic disparities (PHE 2020a
). Both of these reports show examples of the presence/absence of mixed race at the institutional level. As with the Sewell Report
, mixed race is nominally acknowledged and sparsely explored when trying to understand the different ways that disparities are experienced among minoritised ethnic groups. In the case of PHE, however, mixed race is most commonly overlooked in favour of generalisations maintained at the “non-White” pan-ethnicities level.
Disparities in the Risk and Outcomes of COVID-19
) was the first of the two PHE reports. As mentioned, the report highlighted various identified disparities, including age, sex and gender, geography, migration status, occupation, and ethnicity. When speaking specifically about ethnic disparities, the analyses used a combination of disaggregated data and reporting at the ethnic group level, broader aggregation at the ethnicity group level, and the use of BAME to refer to “non-White” ethnicities collectively. When analysing the Mixed or Multiple ethnicity groups, most reporting was conducted on the ethnicity group level, using unrecommended terms, such as “Mixed”, “Mixed ethnic group”, and “Mixed ethnic groups” (PHE 2020b
The follow-up report, Beyond the Data: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on BAME Communities
), turns its focus to examine how ethnicity specifically is impacting COVID-19 infection, hospitalisation, and mortality rates in the UK. Similar to the PHE’s first report, analyses use a combination of disaggregated ethnic groups, ethnicity level grouping, and BAME to describe “non-White” ethnicities. Again, Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are mentioned minimally and at the ethnicity group level, using the unrecommended terms of “Mixed”, “mixed”, and “mixed ethnicity” (PHE 2020a
The BAME level of analyses predominates both PHE reports, with observations or conclusions generalising about the group as a whole, or at times referring to “some BAME” groups or communities (e.g., PHE 2020a, pp. 35, 36, 41
; PHE 2020b, p. 39
). Even though BAME is not an officially recognised ethnic term, PHE does not define it other than to list out what it stands for (Aspinall 2020
; PHE 2020a
). Previous research has critiqued the increased use of broad ethnicity labels, such as BAME and its predecessor, BME (Black and Minority Ethnic), specifically in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (Aspinall 2020
; Milner and Jumbe 2020
; Platt and Warwick 2020
). Writing about the Department of Health specifically, Peter Aspinall notes that “[t]he rapid increase in the use of ‘BAME’ by government has nowhere been more conspicuous than in the focus by the Department of Health and agencies over recent months on the greater risks experienced by Black and Asian groups in Britain in the COVID-19 pandemic” (Aspinall 2021b, p. 6
). BAME, and terms similar to it, steal recognition and power from distinctive ethnic group populations “…catalysed by government, with the consequent erasure of distinct ethnic identities…” (Aspinall 2021b, p. 3
Mixed or Multiple ethnicity is not obviously present in the BAME acronym. Hidden from view and subsumed within the “Minority Ethnic” afterthought, it is difficult to discern the specificities of minoritised ethnicities obscured within the four letters. Johan Galtung developed the notion of structural violence, which is the way by which social structures (e.g., political, cultural, and economic, etc.) create detrimental barriers and disparities around health, housing, education, employment, and crime, etc. (Galtung 1969
). The disparities of the pandemic are clear cases of structural violence (Bentley 2020
). However, additionally, for Mixed or Multiple ethnicities, there is a further structural violence in the ways that they remain overlooked, even as reports vacillate between amalgamating all minorities groups and focusing on aspects of other select ethnic groups.
Since the turn of the twenty-first century, race discourses in the UK have increased their use of BAME and similar labels of fictive unity, such as Afro-Caribbean, Muslims, Asians, and Europeans (Aspinall 2021b
). In essence, there has been slippage into non-granular broad- and pan-ethnic categories, despite official guidance not to do so. Evidence of this can be seen both in the Sewell Report
discussed above and in the PHE reports. This slippage has meant that for Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, it is unclear whether and where they fit. There are no commonly used broad aggregation labels that explicitly mention Mixed or Multiple ethnicities. It is understandable that the larger ethnic groups in the UK are more prominent in race discourses. However, this should not mean that mixed race is mostly overlooked, precisely because the disparities are different among all of the recognised ethnic groups. Lucinda Platt and Ross Warwick argue that, “[a]nalysis of ethnic disproportionalities in health outcomes that aggregates groups together masks much of the story with regards to ethnic inequalities, and limits the scope for understanding why they have come about. […] Accounting for these factors is necessary to understand the true scale of disproportionalities as a starting point for thinking about policy responses” (2020, p. 2). Not only does concealing diversity hinder what we are able to observe, but it also has potential implications for the ways we can respond to disparities. Examining all of these differences helps to understand and address the larger effects of racisms.
In this way, mixed race appears to create a conundrum for race discourses in a system that relies on a logic of discreteness that separates humans into different racialised categories. Within this system, it is straightforward to contrast the Asian, Black, and any Other ethnicity groups against White ethnicity groups. The PHE reports were able to begin exploring clear trends among these groups by doing just that. However, a majority of the Mixed or Multiple ethnicities in the UK include both White ethnicities and “non-White” ethnicities, which appears to complicate how institutions conceptualise them. Instead of acknowledging that, Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are briefly mentioned and then largely overlooked. As they are constructed as ethnic minorities, they are technically
part of the BAME acronym, so they are quietly subsumed into it and their specific heterogeneity is concealed. For Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups in the UK, this potential heterogeneity includes diverse generational migration status, geography, experiences of racism, cultural affinities, language, religion, and age profile. About structural violence, Galtung writes, “[s]tructural violence is silent, it does not show—it is essentially static, it is
the tranquil waters” (Galtung 1969, p. 173
, emphasis in original). The structural violence of marginalising mixed race in the pandemic is an additional structural violence of oversight that is barely noticed. Subsumption into the BAME category leads to only a fragmented and partial picture of Mixed or Multiple ethnicity—when it is even acknowledged.
At the institutional level, mixed race is present in the PHE reports as part of the BAME groups that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Additional research has found that there is specific evidence that Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups experience COVID-19 and other health disparities, but understanding is limited due to preferred focus on biological and genetic reasons rather than social, political, and economic stratifications. This focus reifies notions of cultural essentialism and misdirects responsibility onto the victims of structural violence (Meer et al. 2020
). Mixed race is absent as a result of the structural violence of oversight through the fictive unity of BAME. At the institutional level, presence/absence is maintained because there is increasing use of the BAME label as a description for all minoritised ethnic groups, but in operationalisation, Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are overlooked within the acronym. The concealed heterogeneity of all groups in the BAME label is a form of structural violence, and for Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, the continued marginalisation of mixed race as a result of this subsumption is an additional structural violence.
5.3. Case Three: Civil Society: Presence/Absence as Invisibility
The story of BAME begins in the 1980s. Prior, “Black” was used as a political term to mean “non-White”, and referred to both Black and Asian ethnicities. BME gained popularity from the 1980s, when “Minority Ethnic” was added to “Black” to account for increasing ethnic diversity in the UK. In the 1990s, “Asian” was added to reflect South Asians as the largest ethnic minority group. BAME has been used at institutional and state levels, as well as within civil society and the VCS as an inclusive term that would apply to all ethnic minorities (Aspinall 2021a
; Saeed et al. 2019
Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter after the police murder of George Floyd, minoritised ethnic groups have been speaking out against the use of BAME (Bunglawala 2019
; Inc Arts UK 2020
). Arguments against BAME have centred around the dissatisfaction of being “lumped together” under one moniker. In most cases, individuals identify into the disaggregated categories officially recognised by the UK government that most closely align with their own senses of personal identity. With this information, external forces—in this case, institutions and the state—have created and applied an aggregated category name to diverse people groups without their input or permission.
There have been numerous recent campaigns and resistance against BAME. At the time of writing, at least five petitions have been submitted to the UK Parliament to request a debate to abolish the use of BAME to describe minoritised ethnicities. They have all been rejected because the government claims that it does not use BAME or BME, despite that not being a uniform policy for the government as a whole (Aspinall 2021b
). Inc Arts UK, an organisation that supports diversity and inclusion in the arts, convened a series of #BAMEOver events that sought to gain consensus on how minoritised ethnic groups preferred to be addressed. Since the aforementioned events of 2020, civil society and VCS organisations have come together to discuss racisms, and included on the agenda is how BAME is embedded into problems of race and racisms in the UK. This trend has been picked up by academics and the media, and reflects a significant shift in current racial discourse (Aspinall 2021a
Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are rarely explicitly mentioned within BAME discussions and are rendered essentially invisible. One notable exception is explicit consideration in the #BAMEOver statement, which criticises the use of ethnicity group aggregation by stating, “[w]e’re never just ‘mixed’” (Inc Arts UK 2020, p. 1
). In the virtual meeting that I attended on the topic of BAME, Black and Asian ethnicities were brought up specifically around the need for disaggregation. When I raised the question of where Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups fit, the response was, “Yeah, I don’t know….” Another person responded, “It’s a tough one….” This was followed by silence until the topic was changed. At another time during the same meeting, attendees suggested preferred alternatives to BAME. One common alternative was to use a different label, for example “global majority”, “ethnic minority”, “racial minority”, or “minoritised groups.” The other common alternative was to name ethnic groups more specifically than BAME, for example, “African diaspora”, “South Asian heritage”, “East Asian Caribbean”, or “Latin American heritage.” No examples of alternatives for mixed race were offered during the meeting, or how mixed race would be named specifically, e.g., as Mixed or Multiple ethnicity, Mixed or Multiple Ethnicity X and Ethnicity Y (and Ethnicity Z, etc.), added as part of all represented ethnic groups, or some other alternative.
Part of the tension for Mixed or Multiple ethnicities within the BAME debates may be the White/“non-White” dichotomy at play (Ali 2020
). Within White supremacy, the White/“non-White” dichotomy represents normative, unnamed, and privileged Whiteness in contrast with non-normative, othered, and marginalised “non-Whiteness” (Gabriel 2020
; Gunaratnam 2003
). Despite its heterogeneity, BAME is assumed, erroneously, to be homogeneously “non-White.” BAME represents an obvious fiction of unity, whereby the heterogeneity and specificities of the various groups are hidden under the broad generalisation that they are not part of the White majority ethnic group (Ali 2020
; Werbner 1991
). As discussed in the previous case study, although a sizeable proportion of the Mixed or Multiple ethnicity group does have White ethnicity, this is negated when subsumed into BAME. As is the case at the institutional level, Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are further concealed within BAME as they are doubly aggregated; first under the broad UK ethnicity groups and second as part of the BAME aggregation.
As observed in the PHE reports, BAME is certainly used at times to mean “non-White.” However, the “Minority Ethnic” portion of the acronym leaves the term open to include White minorities in the UK. Mac an Ghaill
) argues that the implicit colour paradigm in the UK over-racialises “non-White” groups and rejects the possibility of White ethnicities as racialised minorities. This leaves White ethnic minorities “deracialised” and their specific experiences with racism in the UK denied. The same mechanism may explain how the White ethnicities within some Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups are reconciled away. When referring to Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups in the case studies above, the “non-White” background(s) are explicitly or implicitly focused upon as the reasons for experiencing racisms. In contrast, the possibility for White backgrounds to effect racisms has gone unmentioned, whether that be the influence of White minoritised ethnic background(s), or the ways that White majority ethnicity interacts with minoritised ethnicities in experiences of racisms. The White/“non-White” dichotomy further conceals the complex racialisation processes for Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups through deracialising White ethnicities and over-racialising “non-White” ethnicities to create a fictional representation of their experiences.
The presence/absence of mixed race within the BAME debates of civil society and the VCS is one of invisibility. There are many voices for minoritised ethnic groups advocating against the continued use of BAME, however Mixed or Multiple ethic groups are not prominent among them. The outcome from the various campaigns is that minoritised ethnic groups want to identify themselves into their preferred ethnic categories, rather than be designated into categories outside of their choosing. They want to resist the confines of White supremacy that decentre and marginalise their position in contrast to Whiteness. Their arguments align with wider debates, contesting structure by advocating agency (Aspinall 2021b
). For Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, within a nomenclature of disaggregation on their terms, their previously concealed diversity and the tensions and complexities of holding simultaneous multiple ethnic identities can be made visible.