I have worked in equalities for over four decades. In the 1970s and 1980s race meant all of us because we considered ourselves Black. When Dummett published her book ‘A Portrait of English Racism’ or Humphrey and John published ‘Because they’re Black’ we knew they were talking about all of us.
Later, we came to focus on specific ethnic groups within the ‘Black’ category such as educational underachievement of Caribbean children (Coard, Rampton). From 1991 onwards we discovered that the Asian achievement had problems within it because Pakistani and Bangladeshis were under-achieving. Slowly, we began to realise that this was not just in education but generally too; these two communities were found to be much more disadvantaged within the Asian category.
We know our communities have differences and similarities in heritage, context and outcome. There are times when the overall category of BAME (like the Black of old) is sufficient as is Asian or ethnic minorities but there are times we need to look at the specific communities (Black, Pakistani, Bangladeshi) and their access to opportunities and power. When doing the latter I often feel a bit of guilt, in case I am seen to have something against the other minority communities which I don’t.