Opinion: Why I’m petitioning the authorities to drop the word ‘minorities’

Loretta Thomas, journalist. Picture: Loretta Thomas

Loretta Thomas, journalist. Picture: Loretta Thomas - Credit: Loretta Thomas

With Black Lives Matter putting racial equality at the top of the agenda, journalist Loretta Thomas, who lives in Islington and grew up in Hackney, says we should rethink the language we use.

Stop referring to people as “minorities”. This term, along with “majority”, is appropriate when collating statistical information relating to data but not to describe people. It creates power dynamics and fosters inequality in the treatment of one group over another when, in truth, as human beings we are all created equal as part of one race, the human race, made up of people with different skin colours and cultures.

I and other Black people do not believe we are a minority in relation to another human being and continual use of the word minority reinforces the inequality the government says it wants to change.

As non-White British citizens, we know this is not the land of our fore-fathers so by default also know we are the minority group in relation to the population - as would a White person who lives in or visits the Caribbean or Africa know they will be the minority of that land.

The word ‘minority’ should only be applied in relation to geographical and demographic statistical monitoring or to identify when particular sectors or organizations are under resourced.

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The year 2020 is proving to be a pivotal time in our humanity, and no one can deny that the evets around the murder of George Floyd and the coronavirus are calling on us to have empathy and integrity, and to question our morality towards other people in ways we could have never imagined.

Covid-19, the unseen assassin, put the world under siege and into lockdown and wiped out lives globally with disregard for ethnicity, skin colour or religious belief. In contrast, the global protests we are seeing today are calling for our different skin colour and ethnicities to be regarded.

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It appears, and only time will tell, that the majority of people want to see equal treatment for all people and the breakdown of systemic racism and inequality in areas of employment, housing, policing, the criminal justice system, education and social settings. However, how does that begin?

Firstly, the mentality of the individuals and groups in positions of power and decision making must take an honest self-inventory and challenge their own and each other’s perception of how they view and treat non-White people.

Racism encompasses evil and its intention is to cause harm and demean the self-esteem, and break down the mental wellbeing of a person or group based upon the different colour of their skin. Racism is a learnt behaviour as we are not born naturally hating, therefore it is a behaviour that can be unlearnt.

I imagine it is hard for a racist to understand how to unlearn their behaviour, so a good analogy is to take all the negative, demeaning and disrespectful thoughts, feelings and actions you have towards someone of a different ethnic background and apply them to a member of your family.

How does it make you feel? How might they feel? Well, whatever the discomfort and frustration revealed, it is a fraction of the daily, real life, lived experience of Black and other non-White people in the UK.

I feel so strongly about the offensive description that a few days ago I was compelled to start a petition to address removing the word ‘minority’ when referring to people which implies there is another group of people superior to us.

We Black people have always voiced the discriminations we experience and many suffer daily but solely because of George Floyd’s horrific televised murder, White people are hopefully now willing to explore their attitudes, hear us, see us and actually call for change to their systemic processes which has shut us out, my hope is this awakening will remain woke.

Exercising equality is not hard to do and is simply a matter of changing one’s mind to do something better, and there is nothing more powerful than a change mind.

Find the petition at chng.it/RwnxMwgM

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