Following the 2013 national Black members’ conference the national Black members committee looks at defining ‘Black’ in UNISON. The motion to conference asked for an explanation of the term to be used consistently throughout Black members structures.
In UNISON, Black is used to indicate people with a shared history. Black with a capital ‘B’ is used in its broad political and inclusive sense to describe people in Britain that have suffered colonialism and enslavement in the past and continue to experience racism and diminished opportunities in today’s society.
The terms ‘minority ethnic’ and ‘ethnic minority’ are in widespread official use today. However, these terms have clear disadvantages in terms of the connotations of marginal or less important and in many neighbourhoods, towns and cities in Britain it is statistically inaccurate or misleading to describe Black groups as a minority.
Historically in the UK the term Black has been used routinely in anti- racist campaigns starting in the 70s. 25 years ago when four Black MPs Bernie Grant, Paul Boateng, Diane Abbott and Keith Vaz were elected at the height of 1980s Black activism, African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean communities had come to realise the importance of unity in our common struggle against racism and under- representation and campaigned under the political term ‘Black’.
Language changes and evolves but terminology is always important in terms of intention and direction. Using Black is about creating unity in our fight against deep-rooted racism that sees Black people disadvantaged in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice and health systems.