Glossary and key concepts

The list of terminology and key concepts have been drawn from the London Race Equality Strategy.

Terminology  Meaning
BME – Black and Minority Ethnic Several terms are used in public policy and wider society to refer to collective ethnic minority populations. These include black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), black and minority ethnic (BME), people of colour, and racialised minorities. In this strategy, we have used the term BME to describe groups of people whose ethnicity or racial background is a key factor in their experience or risk of racial discrimination at work in the NHS. This is not an endorsement of this term BME, but an effort to ensure consistency with other NHS workforce race equality publications.
Racism Racism is often wrongly understood as mistreating someone or holding prejudiced views. Prejudice views and unfair treatment can occur between any racial groups. However, there is a much more fundamental issue. Systemic racism is power and privilege that can offer intrinsic advantages to White people over people from a BME background.
Institutional Racism The Macpherson report’s definition of institutional racism is “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”
Structural racism Structural racism is inequality rooted across the operation of a system or society that excludes or has a significant negative impact on large numbers of a particular racial group and their ability to participate.
Discrimination Discrimination happens when someone is treated unfairly or less favourably due to an actual or perceived protected characteristic and is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. There are four types of discrimination.
Direct discrimination Treating someone worse than someone else, for example, not inviting someone for an interview because you believe them to be from a particular racial background.
Indirect discrimination Rules, policies, or ways of doing things that negatively impact someone with a particular characteristic than someone from another group, such as Friday team meetings in a pub.
Harassment Violating someone’s dignity; creating a hostile, humiliating, degrading or offensive environment, for example, making fun of someone’s name or how it is pronounced.
Victimisation This is treating someone unfairly if they act under the Equality Act or support someone else who is doing so. For example, a white ally could be victimised if they support a BME colleague with a harassment claim.
White privilege Originally coined by the black civil rights activist William Du Bois in the 1930’s and coming to prominence in Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 ground-breaking paper White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. The term white privilege describes how having white skin gives an individual an advantage in life. White privilege does not mean white people have never struggled, but white people do not experience racial discrimination on an institutional or societal basis in Britain.

Having white privilege and recognising it is not racist. But white privilege exists because of historic, enduring racism and biases and is the “power of accumulated power”.