Interview with Professor Paul Olomolaiye, Pro Vice Chancellor, Equalities and Civic Engagement.

UWE Bristol has announced it is to stop using the acronym BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) when referring to people and, instead, will use more specific terms to describe someone’s ethnicity. One of the University’s Pro Vice Chancellors said this decision aligned to UWE Bristol’s commitment to inclusion, which is one of its core values.

Professor Paul Olomolaiye, who is Pro Vice Chancellor, Equalities and Civic Engagement, said in an interview he strongly disliked the term BAME “because it doesn’t represent anyone”.

He added: “The term is being used by different organisations to represent the collective, which means that you are finding that black people, Chinese and minority ethnicities are being called BAME, but I am Nigerian, I am black, I am African – that’s me.”

Professor Olomolaiye said that among the many people he had spoken to who are black, Asian or minority ethnic, none of them identified with the acronym, “which evolved out of nowhere”.

Last year the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity (part of Birmingham City University) published a report on the use of BAME in the creative industries and people’s responses to it. The report said: “A major concern, apparent in recent public responses to the acronym, is that it homogenises culturally distinct social groups. Despite widespread usage, the term has garnered significant criticism from the very people it seeks to describe.”

Professor Olomolaiye said: ‘We at UWE Bristol don’t want anybody to be called BAME and want to build a totally inclusive university where everybody, black, white or of any description or of any protected characteristic, is free to be who they want to be and be the best they can be.”

“We are rising up as an institution for inclusion, which is one of our five core values. We want to be inclusive for everyone and I want people to be free within that.”

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