Ethnic figures are an important tool in tackling inequality in Britain

Ethnic figures are an important tool in tackling inequality in Britain

On March 21, it was «Census Day» In the United Kingdom: All British residents must have completed a questionnaire for the benign census in England and Wales by this date – latecomers have a few days left to conduct the census. Exercise is compulsory and takes a good twenty minutes to house five people: the list of questions is long, especially related to ethics. White British, Irish, Gypsy or Roma? Black Briton, Black African or Caribbean? British Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Bangladeshi, or “other”? What if mixed race, white and Asian, white and black Caribbean, or black African?

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The relevance of a “Somali” box of two others mentioning “Sikh” or “Jewish” religions is discussed, but especially among experts. For the rest, the question (including, those, on alternative, sexual orientation) did not shock anyone: in the United Kingdom, where identity questions are central (separatist tendencies in Scotland and vote in favor of Brexit), a collection of religious and Ethnic data has not been a problem for almost thirty years. Quite the contrary: These figures are considered by the British to be minorities (we use the abbreviation for “Black, Asian and minority ethnic” as a powerful tool for “positive” political action).

Already, during the 1966 census, authorities classify the country’s population among the British people of the “Old Commonwealth” (Australia, Canada, New Zealand) of the “New Commonwealth” (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, West countries) Was tried. ) And “African Commonwealth” (Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya), recalls in a blog post, Richard Laux, Deputy Director of the Race Disparity Unit, an ethnic data collection unit in the Prime Minister’s Office. The government of the day wanted to assess the share of “non-whites” in a rapidly changing population: the British Empire was on the verge of disintegration and the United Kingdom welcomed thousands of Indians and Indian immigrants every year.

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“People responded without any problem”

It was considered the first collection of ethnic data (linked to a history, a culture, a language, traditions or skin color) as well as the 1991 census. The Labor Force Survey (LFS), the large quarterly UK employment survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), followed. “At first, the government feared that people would refuse to respond because they feared that this data would be used against them. The opposite happened, people responded without any problems ”, James Nazaro remembers the deputy director of the Center on the Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester.

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