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BME (Black and Minority Ethnic ) – adjective

BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) – adjective

Helping BME people to progress in their careers at the same rate as their white counterparts could add £24bn to UK economy each year.

He was the first ever BAME politician to be elected to Labour’s Shadow Cabinet.

Though I may use BME/BAME, I don't particularly like these terms. They are unwieldy and lack nuance.

'BME' is racist and misleading. Let's drop it.


It is well-known that terms used for describing ethnicity and skin colour change rapidly, with words regarded as acceptable and unremarkable at one period becoming completely unacceptable not many years later. This phenomenon is illustrated by the British English terms BME and BAME. No sooner had they become widely used as descriptive terms for the parts of the British population that do not identify themselves as white, they started to be critiqued as unhelpful, unnecessary, even racist.

Terms like BME and BAME became very widely used because they are a convenient shorthand for talking about complicated and sensitive issues. Perhaps such terms will always be criticized as crude, lacking in nuance or even potentially racist, pushing people to find new ways of talking about these matters.



The terms BME and BAME started to be used at the very end of the 20th century by writers on social issues and started to spread immediately into official discourse. The letters are generally sounded separately, although I have heard BAME said as a word.


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