I recently completed the 2017 SRA Equality and Diversity Survey. One page is headed ‘Ethnic Group’. If the option British/English/Welsh/Northern Irish/Scottish is selected the page assumes that one’s ethnic group is ‘White’. That is the only ethnic group outcome the form allows for the ‘home nation’ choice.
How long before someone born in England whose parents or grandparents were born somewhere else in the world will be able to self-identify as ‘English’ to the SRA – rather than being forced to self-identify by reference to an ethnic minority option?
Lots of English-born people of ethnic minority ancestry self-identify as either English or British. The survey does not recognise that they have the obvious right to do so; nor that people of such ancestry living here but born elsewhere also have the right to self-identify as English – and so on.
Here are some online definitions of ethnicity:
(a) ‘The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.’
(b) ‘A social group that shares a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.’
(c) ‘Someone’s cultural background or where they came from.’
I do not see how one gets from these definitions to posing the questions on the ‘Ethnic Group’ page. It reminds me of a play I once saw. White racist man to man of apparently African/Caribbean heritage: ‘Where are you from?’ Answer: ‘London.’ White racist man: ‘Yes – but where are you from originally?’ Answer: ‘London.’ See? I don’t think the SRA would get that bit of dialogue.
I take it the survey, at least in part, is trying to tackle racism. Unluckily, it does not. Embarrassingly, it actually looks somewhat racist itself. The clear message: if you are brown or black you cannot also be English. Not what was intended of course, but that is the outcome.
Adrian P Dalton, partner, Ben Hoare Bell, Sunderland