Avoiding Racist Language
Ethnic and cultural issues are often sensitive ones, and it is important
to write in a way which is not discriminatory, and which is accurate.
Here are some terms to use, and some to avoid.
- African-Caribbean or African, Caribbean
African-Caribbean has replaced the term Afro-Caribbean to refer to people from the Caribbean who are of African origins. Ideally, the two peoples should be referred to separately.
- This term is used to describe people from the continent of Asia, particularly
those from the sub-continent of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It shouldn't
be used for people of Asian origin who are British citizens.
- This should not be used as a short term for all non-white people.
Many people of Asian or Chinese origin object to being described as
- British Asians
- The term for people of Asian origin who are British citizens.
- An outdated term. There are better alternatives available.
The Commission for Racial Equality, and the Census, use the following
list of classifications.
Black-Other (please specify)
Other (please specify)
- Often used as a shorthand for 'non-white people'. It shouldn't be
- all people are equally ethnic. See also Minorities.
- An outdated term. 'People of mixed parentage' is better,
- Immigrants are people who migrate from one country to another. The
term should not be used to describe their descendants who are born in
the new country, or as a shorthand for non-white people. British
Asians or Afro/Caribbean British people
are better alternatives.
- This is OK as a term for people from India. It should not be used
in the sense of 'American Indians'. The term native Americans is better.
- An acceptable term.
- A dated term, now largely unacceptable. In the USA, African American
is a better alternative.
- West Indian
- African-Caribbean is preferable.
These notes are based on the British Sociological Association's guidelines
on language. The full document is available at http://www.britsoc.co.uk/equality