Written evidence submitted by Dr Allswell Eno (RTR0023)




All of what I set out below is relevant to:

- NHS workforce recruitment from a certain ethnic minority

- the retention of those staff

- their long term physical and mental health and wellbeing and

- the physical and, in particular, acute and chronic mental health problems patients from this population present to the NHS and their sense of satisfaction that NHS doctors and other healthcare workers understand and can assist





The persistent and misguided terminology that uniquely applied to people of African heritage here and abroad by the British state, including its National health Service, sets us at a disadvantage to all other populations and this feeds directly not only into the difficulties people of African heritage experience as part of the NHS workforce in terms of respect, shortlisting, job retention, discipline, career progression and but into the perceptions and expectations and prognosis of the client population when it happens to be people of African heritage, especially in mental health.


What people want is equality and fairness and respect. For equality and fair treatment to be attained the fundamental starting point is how they are addressed and referred to as people, which needs to be the same as everyone else. The NHS is in the right position ethically and morally to take the lead. Stop referring to us as “black people”. Refer to us all collectively as people of African heritage.




Evidence for the Health and Social Care Select Committee 





All of what I set out below is relevant to:

- NHS workforce recruitment from a certain ethnic minority

- the retention of those staff

- their long term physical and mental health and wellbeing and

- the physical and, in particular, acute and chronic mental health problems patients from this population present to the NHS and their sense of satisfaction that NHS doctors and other healthcare workers understand and can assist


So please, do not read and shelve or worse, ignore, but circulate it to the members of the Committee. The Chair the Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt did write to me directly on 6th January and did encourage to send in evidence, further to an email I sent to the Committee on 18th December 2021. That is what I have done. I wrote this evidence in December.


There is and has been for the past 50 or so years a persistent and toxic anomaly in this country that has been instrumental in ensuring that racism of a specific kind persists in this country. It is the racism specifically targeted at people of African heritage. By ‘people of African heritage’ I mean people for whom there is incontrovertible evidence from archives and all kinds of physical evidence, including phenotypic or visual, linguistic, genetic, genealogical, family ties, and from the private and public historical record on transatlantic slavery and other involuntary displacement, and voluntary displacement, and repatriation, that their ancestry is African. That means directly or continental, i.e. directly from the African continent, and indirectly, i.e. African-Caribbean and the much larger numbers of people born or living in the remainder of the Americas, chiefly Brazil, the United States of America, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica and other parts Latin America and also Canada, other parts of Europe and dispersed/displaced, whether by force or voluntarily to other parts of the world - in short, the African diaspora.

It is not simply an anomaly: it is a double standard.


That double standard is the habitual application of the term ‘black’ to them while every other population whose ancestry is not African is accorded the dignity and respect of being routinely referenced by their heritage, something that not only instantaneously recognises them as entire human beings with more than skin, but sophisticated minds and bodies, culture, societal structure, civilisation, geography, tradition, history, and even for those races that too were colonised and displaced, that they have a pre-colonial history and civilisation.




“Person A is a“black.”


with this:


“Person B is of South Asian heritage.”


That’s what we have right now. In the third decade of the 21st century. You only need to listen to BBC news broadcasts.


And no one other than I and the people who have noticed this and share my concerns appears to question this. Yet there are standpoints from which to question it - consistency and EQUALITY.


The double standard is all the more difficult to explain away by these measures and morally when you consider not just the historical backdrop (how, where and when it came about) but the following noteworthy points :


1) The colour chosen is not in actual fact a colour: black is the absence of light


2) In the English language alone, ‘black’ has some 30+ negative connotations attached to it against one positive (that being ‘in the black’ financially)


3) ‘Black’ is the same word we use to describe animals, both wild and domesticated (pets) that are black. Yet, in the case of animals, people go to great trouble to differentiate between the various colours that make up their pelts, even down to the darkest shade of brown. For dogs and cats, for example, entire websites are dedicated to this. But, in the case of people of African heritage, British humanity, even all the way up to the most intellectual, the most educated, appears not to have gone to the trouble of referencing the fact that people of African heritage actually have skins that are various tones of brown, from the lighter to the darkest. Instead they all designated “black people” in blanket fashion.


The harm it has caused and the worsening harm it continues to cause


This ‘colour’ designation is not harmless: its has clear and well-documented effects on the social attitudes in this country of Great Britain.


(a) Polarisation, ignorance and superficial thinking in British society


People, led byour media outlets, routinely portray people of African heritage as the direct visual opposite of British people of European heritage, and for that matter, anyone else of European heritage - ‘black’ people versus ‘white’ people. The immediate and direct knock-on effect of this is and has been reinforcement of superficial thinking and the embedding of the false and notion that we of African heritage are the biological opposite of Europeans. Originally this was done deliberately to meet a racist objective, but now it happens largely without a second thought, even by those who trying to fight against racism: the victims of that racism and those on the left of the political spectrum who think they are helping in that fight, including The Runnymede Trust and also news broadcasters. The effect is the same: racist ideas and racist acts. To be sure, there are some physical and physiological differences, but nowhere near enough to make us biologically opposite.


Even if African and European skin complexions were truly black and white respectively and therefore were truly opposite, here’s a simple example of the double standard: surely Sri Lankans or Madras Indians who are generally far closer to ‘black’ than a large swathe of British people of African heritage should also be bearing this label. Yet, their supposed “black skin” is not they way by which they are referenced; no, they are respectably and respectfully referred to by their ancestral heritage - South Asian. Why the double standard in this day and age? We should be moving away from inaccurate skin references for all people if Britain is as modern, fair, equal and forward thinking as it’s public figures frequently tell us it is and the rest of the world it is. Well, with the evidence I’m presenting here, I’m presenting an opportunity for us to prove we are by breaking with old, sclerotic and harmful social inequalities.


(b) The absence of projection or perception of any intrinsic value


This label conveys and references nothing of value about us. It reduces us to nothing more than an object defined by the thinnest, most superficial, and to boot, misrepresented and negative criteria - “black skin”, inviting either scorn or pity. Our skin, even if were to fixate on this in the way people ineluctably do when this is invariably the first descriptor used to define and refer to us, is not an impediment. What is an impediment to us and our life chances and our quality of life, is the negative societal attitude to our value that this negative and misplaced fixation brings.

Think about it: from cradle to grave the only thing you are expected to aspire to being called, all your life by everyone, including your own who have internalised it after decades, and every institution in Britain, is “a black person”, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) gives us three options with which to officialise it: “black African”,”black Caribbean”, “black British”. What intrinsic value does that hold? None. What respect does it draw from wider society? None.

I’m a British man of African heritage, and I’m proud of it. Because my heritage references my family lineage, my geographical origins, my ancestors’ traditions, and that there is more to me than the “black history” taught at schools, which is riven with victimhood and devoid of any acknowledgment of a pre-European existence and civilisation.


Any honest person will know that leading with ‘black’, as the media routinely do, or me saying “I’m black”, does not immediately conjure up respect, intellect, leadership or agency. It certainly doesn’t evoke straight away in people’s minds luminaries in the fields of science, engineering and medicine and economics. No, it first and foremost conjures up victims (famous or not) of racism and discrimination from so-called ‘white people’, disadvantage as a result of that, and perhaps entertainment (sporting excellence, musical and dancing prowess) and then perhaps, after a while, art (writing and playwrights).



(c) Lack of respect and a uniquely British form of racism


In Britain, the effects cited in (b) have always invited, and will continue for the foreseeable future, to invite a specific form of targeted racism - racist insults containing the word ‘black’. This is the primary method of insulting people of African heritage and it is quite simple: one simply tacks a derogatory noun onto the word 'black'. So 'black person' instantly becomes 'black bastard', 'black c**t, 'black wog', 'black jack' and so on. So, in the British case, all that people of African heritage, or those that do, are doing by copying Americans in adopting and using 'black' to describe themselves is merely giving racists and even people who might not ordinarily be racist, the tools with which to insult them. We are unwittingly inviting insult and ridicule. It is an unintentional act of self-harm, and from where I stand, it is also an act of unintended harm to our offspring.



(d) This brand of racism mimicked by other ethnic minorities, including newcomers


Just as when the miseries of a child who is chosen to be the one picked on at school are compounded when newcomers arrive at the school and quickly learn how to join in and who to target, so the same miseries are experienced by British people of African heritage when they, having been born and raised here and experienced the British form of racism I talk of in (b) or have lived here as naturalised citizens for decades, find themselves being called the same names by other ethnic minorities, including those of South Asian heritage, but worst of all, newcomers from Eastern Europe, many with thick accents, some of them barely able to speak English. Or, even if name-calling doesn’t occur, they experience a complete absence of respect for them individually and as a people, a pervasive, untested, unrepentant prejudice that discounts and denigrates their value and contribution to society and discounts the idea that they have made any contribution to human endeavour with anything outside of sport and entertainment.


This happened a great deal following the post-2004 wave of predominantly Eastern European immigration into the UK that resulted from EU expansion and freedom of movement and has largely been reversed by Brexit. This racism from Eastern European immigrants barely made it into the news and thereby hardly entered the public consciousness, let alone public discourse. I heard a single radio call-in programme devoted to this for around an hour after the first year and a half but found no news reports or condemnation of it by any public figure. I still receive regular reports from my patients of African heritage about this, often in great distress and having to be signed off work because of the stress and additional sense of outrage this causes.


And yet the assumption in media and political circles was that all British ethnic minorities, including the population of African heritage, were, or should be, ‘pro-Remain’ during the Brexit debate.



(e) Fear of being judged or pre-judged (prejudice), a siege mentality and a victim mentality


When there is a fixation on reference by way of a falsehood about skin colour and that same terminology is used as weapon as described in (c) and (d), it’s not surprising that this induces negative reactions in a lot of people of African heritage. The first is an anticipation or a fear of being judged, not by the content of their character as Dr Martin Luther King put it, but by this arbitrary and simplistic method of referencing people of African heritage - their skin complexion (along with their hair type).


This anticipation or fear, if reinforced often enough, gives rise to a siege mentality, an inferiority complex and a victim mentality. The siege mentality is the belief that wherever one goes, one is under attack “because I’m “black” “. This causes stress, restlessness, misery,  mental exhaustion, apathy, poor lifestyle choices (smoking, alcohol, drug misuse), physical ill-health in a significant proportion of this population and in a significant proportion of the population too, mental ill-health. The disproportionate number of people of African heritage (both Continental and African-Caribbean) end has been a chronic, unique and well documented affliction of the United Kingdom for more than fifty years. It is not a coincidence.


All of the above begets an understandable victim mentality in the community at large.


People of uncharitable mind from other communities often label this: “ Having a chip on your shoulder.” or “ Being ashamed of your “colour”. “ or “Reading into things too much.”


(f) Fear of causing offence by well-meaning people


Another consequence of “black” is that well-meaning people, those people who could not be farther removed from those cited in (c) and (d) and feel acutely uncomfortable with calling people “black” because they know its origins and know it cannot be right (and indeed are often just as uncomfortable with being called “white” and the false polarisation that the two words cause) find themselves trying to avoid at all costs using “black” when they find themselves having to refer to people of African heritage. What happens in some cases is that they reach for what to them sounds less harsh, less insulting and more polite -  the other misnomer, “coloured” - only to find themselves being lambasted and vilified by people of African heritage when offence was the last thing they wanted to cause. If that person happens to be in the public eye, then the media, which many of African heritage would be hard-pressed to believe genuinely have their best interests at heart, magnify and multiply the opprobrium the well-meaning person felt, repeating the ‘story’ over and again for several days.


(g) Decades of platitudes, no attention to underlying cause, then more of the same


Saddest and most futile of all is that all we get at present is a never-ending cycle of sporadic reports in the press, year in, year out, where someone was attacked, verbally (mostly) or physically, or discriminated against not because of their African heritage but “because they are or were “black”. Or periodic surveys (broadcast in the news usually about every six months) spouting out the same old thing, couched in the same old ‘black versus white’ language: “ A survey has shown that ‘black people’ are twice as likely as ‘white people’ to be discriminated against at work/stoped by the police/refused entry into this or that club’ or whatever victim statistic it is, by some left-leaning “think tank”.


We then get several days of platitudes from politicians, spokespersons from the offending institution or person expressing remorse and commitment to ‘defeating’ or ‘eradicating’ racism, and several days of heated and toxic ‘debate’, now mostly via radio phone-in programmes and the internet, in which so-called ‘black people’, real off a whole raft of negative experiences, all the while referring to themselves as ‘black people’, and demanding justice or respect for ‘black people’… and then it all falls silent until the next episode while the media change subject, and nothing is ever resolved. Meanwhile, the only beneficiaries are the commercial stations such as LBC, who increase their revenue from advertisers on the basis of a simple business model: get as much polemic, many upset people as possible on air to remonstrate with others with opposing or un-empathic views, to call the station,  partly for the entertainment of its host and team and its listeners, but primarily to boost its advertising revenue based on listener and caller numbers, while the underlying problem of a racist structural, terminological system of double standards is never dealt with.


(h) Chronically low self-esteem, self-hatred, crime, unstable family units and decimation of this community


With all the above going on, year in, year out, decade in, decade out, what has been the re net effect on the population of African heritage in the UK? Chronically low self-esteem, underachievement and crime amongst the boys and men, particularly amongst the less well educated and the latter two problems consistently documented as largely affecting the African-Caribbean contingent, which the ONS, with its divide-and-rule mentality, prefers deliberately to call ‘Caribbean’ (no reference to their African ancestry) in its ethnic or ‘ethnicity’ monitoring questionnaire. I know this, not just from having been born and raised, schooled in south London and still a south Londoner to this day with all of the social experience I have gained and all of what I have observed socially and day to day, but also from my professional life. Being a doctor for over 32 years, with the latter 25 in general practice, and counting, I see children and families of African heritage grow and experience social, educational, housing, work stress, family stress, family breakdown, health problems of all kinds, and I can identify with them, and them with me. The need to preserve mental health, prevent mental ill-health has, in the past few years, become the topic, pre-covid-19, that has dominated the national public health conversation, and rightly so.



(i) Usurpation and the reinforcement of superficial ‘colour’ pecking order through thoughtless importation of ‘skin’-fixated American culture


We now are now witnessing one of the most ridiculous and worrying effects: the increasing importation by the media, including our national broadcaster the BBC of an act of mass-usurpation or misappropriation: the notion, invented and cultivated in America, that South Asians are the “brown” people, while we remain “black”. And with it,  in one fell swoop, a new “skin colour”-based pecking order has arisen, while people, including so-call intellectuals and anti-racists, sit and watch. Even BBC Radio 4, the so-called flagship of British broadcasting, allows itself to broadcast this racist nonsense in the programmes it commission and broadcasts. I attach a clip of just one such example.



By dint of all the above, the continued use of the false skin-based terminology ‘black’ does four specific, chronic and fundamentally damaging things to people of African heritage:


It objectifies, it dehumanises, it denigrates and it trivialises them.


So why, in the 3rd decade of the 21st century, are we still being called “black people”, a term that dates back to the 17th century, and is still the basis of the majority of British racial slurs and racism?



Suspension of reasoned thought


It's almost as though there has been a conscious decision to suspend intellect, to abrogate applied thought to suspend common sense, and above all, suspend morality - indeed all four, when it comes to this area of human interaction - in persisting in labelling people of African heritage ‘black’. Even the Equality Act of 2010 managed to survive its passage through the usual stages of scrutiny in both Houses of Parliament and come into law, without anyone, apparently, picking up on this. And the ‘Commission for Racial  Equality’,  both before and after its re-branding as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), even while Trevor Phillips was at the helm (a tenure during which he broadcast  a programme called “Colour-coded” on BBC Radio 4, questioning the self-same state of affairs) managed to continue somehow not to redress the anomaly.


What is certain is that, with this, the main instruments of justice and equality in this country  - the lawmakers, the policy-makers - have for decades, unwittingly or otherwise, denying people of African heritage, of all ages from birth to grave dignity, impairing their quality of life and their life chances. Is it any wonder so many of those public servants entrusted to withhold the law turn out to be willing to be racists in uniform? How many instances have there been in the past year alone, high-profile cases and not? When a community is denied respect for long enough, is it any wonder their self-respect and self-esteem flounder? That self-love and love for your own kind becomes problematic? That so many teenage African-Caribbean boys, mostly from broken homes, are carrying knives about them with the intention of stabbing, maiming or killing other boys who are labelled in the same way as them? Last year (2021) tally of 30 exceeded the previous peak of 2008. Nearly all of African heritage, including a 15 and 16-year-old murdered more or less on the last day of the year. Have you not wondered why are they not going after teenage boys of other heritages? Not that they should. The answer is that it is not a coincidence here any more that in the racist but different society of America. It has nothing to do with Tory party ‘austerity’ that the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, tried to assert for the scoring of cheap political points, which has done nothing to help the community that is dying. I’ve heard the same excuse from some members of my community on TV and radio too. In both cases they have failed to recognise or chosen not to look at the underlying problem of denial of heritage, dignity and respect I talk of.


The problem of self-hatred and knife crime amongst men of African heritage in the big cities of Britain is not new. It’s been there for five decades or more, particularly African-Caribbeans. The difference now is how young knife-carrier and victim are now. But the reason for the wounding and murder in numerous instances has had nothing to do with drug-dealing and trafficking. It has been depressingly trivial and familiar, often down to perceived ‘disrespect’ or “getting above themselves” or “thinking they are better” than the perpetrator. Twenty years ago, in the time of Tony Blair’s Labour, we had the same so-called “black on black” crime epidemic, only this time it was guns and the perpetrators and victims were older - typically 24 years old. But the same community, the same kinds of motive along with the drug gang “turf wars”. Then, as now, the same news reports and debates filed the airwaves and members of the public argued bitterly for and against police stop and search and about “demonising a community”, borrowing the American term “black on black”, then fell silent until the next one, all the while failing to see the irony of this, the fact that this disrespectful, reductive, racist terminology underlay, perpetuated and trivialised the self-hatred.


Tony Blair talked of being “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, particularly this type of street lawlessness and bloodshed afflicting a segment of the community of the African heritage population, which disturbed and destabilised that community in particular, but also wider society. Yet those “causes of crime” were never articulated, let alone addressed. The same happened again in 2011, during the Coalition government’s tenure, resulting in the lawlessness of August that year, including looting, street robbery, arson and some deaths. Again, the community of African heritage in particular complained of feeling generally alienated and disrespected, and not only because of an individual shot dead by the police in a locality of London. For all the numerous utterances of politicians, police and members of the public, I heard none that referenced the toxic effect of structural racism through double standards of language use in reference to people and the need for urgent change ever mentioned. What I heard was the typical cop out: “The causes are complex.” without ever elaborating on these and offering solutions. We heard the same thing in the wake of the riots of 1981 and 1985, now 40 and 36 years ago, when it was largely blamed on “West Indians”, another divisive British colonial term and a complete misnomer that deliberately made no reference whatsoever to their African ancestry, historical, cultural and blood linkages, and the role of the British in forcibly shipping people from Africa to ‘create’ these “West Indians”.



In essence, this past half-century or so, British society at all levels has allowed ignorance, carelessness, lazy, superficial thinking and double standards on racial terminology to prevail, to flourish. Then we express surprise and outrage that the racism of the kind unique and specific to people of African heritage is not only largely intact but is alive and well and continuing to repeat itself in all areas of public and private life, not only real life but now also cyberspace. The complaints about racism continue to repeat themselves. I’m saying a lack of respect for heritage, codified in a nomenclature that treats us completely differently from everyone else  is the glaring underlying problem that needs to be addressed before we can ever truly have a seat at the table of equality.


Well into the 21st century now, British society, media and officialdom have persisted with language that singles us out to be referred to in a completely different way. With nothing forthcoming for people of African heritage except “black person” many have stayed inside a bubble, or remaining below this glass ceiling where being called, and managed to delude themselves that internalising and owning ‘black person’, while asking or demanding that other people be nice to them and respect them is a good thing and will be enough. It hasn’t worked and it isn’t enough. The needle has not moved. We are not in a “post-racial” society as some people have tried to claim in the past. We are in a racist one. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, the toxin remains the same: ’black’ as a term of reference to a select group of people in society that has its origins squarely in the transatlantic slave trade that Britain was for over two centuries, with relics of it, shamefully, littering the country: not just statues of slave traders, but buildings and streets named “The black boy” and “Black boy Lane” in London and elsewhere in the UK cannot be to the social good. As it happens, I have been one of the people actively campaigning against the, and this year, Haringey Council in north London has been moving on it, but it has been start-stop-start and there has been opposition to it from surprising quarters, very much misguided in my view, such as here, for example, which is part of the problem:






Origin and legacy


What’s behind all this?


‘Black’ was imposed by British society, exported to America during the transatlantic slave trade, along with ‘negro’, replaced briefly in the early 20th century by ‘coloured’, then by ‘negro’ until the mid-1960s, before ‘black’ took over and was reinforced then absorbed and internalised by people of African heritage there, before being re-exported back here. A significant contingent of people of African heritage here ‘go with the flow’ and go along with it, hearing and reading it everywhere they go. Some have actively embraced it because they have been socialised that way; that’s all they’ve been told they are by their parents, their schoolteachers, the police, members of the public, and newscasters, reporters and editors. When they are asked, you find some of the older generation here might hark back to the American “Black Power” of the 1960s as the reason. But for many, many that’s not what comes to mind: they just  see themselves “as black, in’ it”, because that’s all they hear every day; it’s in the vernacular; it’s ingrained in the psyche; “That’s what society tells us we are” or because “I’m not white.”; “I’m black, he’s/she’s white.”



There are two misconceptions, combined with mental laziness, that underpins all this in Britain today:


1) That British culture and American culture is the same.


2) every turn of phrase or fashion or habit was that was invented, or rather, adopted, disseminated and perpetuated throughout America, must be good and must be imported and fed into the vernacular here. The term 'black' is a case in point.


Well, there’s a thing. Our culture is not the same as America’s and not everything that comes of America is good and worthy of copycatting.


Firstly, American culture is obsessed with the visual, the superficial - in this case, human skin and its “colour”.


This fixation on skin “colour” has resulted in the embedding of skin-based concepts of race  - in particular ‘black’ and ‘white’ - and the polarised, toxic violent society that is today.


The heady euphoria of Black Power evaporated with the death of the Black Panther movement fifty years ago. It’s time to move on. There is no excuse for imitating American culture now.


This toxic American obsession with “colour” has given rise to another ridiculous term: “people of colour”, which is now the term of use over there for anyone, not just people of African heritage, who is not, in American colour-code, “white”. Sadly, that society has taken to it like a duck to water. What is sadder though is that the powerful and efficient American marketing machine has exported it and it has been swallowed whole and regurgitated by increasing numbers of people here in the UK who think that they’re being politically correct, instead of questioning the whole premise on which it is based.


Secondly, American culture is obsessed with acronyms and abbreviation. They are the best in the world at catchy acronyms and abbreviations.


Thirdly, America is the world expert on marketing, the world leader in marketing, i.e. reducing, packaging and selling things, including terminologies, in this case abbreviated terminologies and acronyms on race.


Here's the other thing:

The staple term of insult widely used in America for people of African heritage in America is ‘nigger'. This is despite the co-optation and routine use of that term, in full, by a contingent of the very people it is targeted at, among themselves. That is not the case here in the UK: the modus operandi of British racism toward people of African heritage is what I cited in (c) and (d) earlier.




Conclusion and solutions recommended:


The evidence I have presented is that there is in Britain a festering sore of racism toward people of African heritage that is based on an archaic, utterly racist and unique system of terminology. It has corroded dignity, respect and ultimately self-esteem for the target population, continues to do so, underlying and driving all the ills that afflict this community.


My evidence presented states the pressing and urgent need for honesty, recognition, admission and restoration:

- honesty about, and recognition and admission of, the role terminology, or more accurately, the deliberate misuse of terminology in British life, i.e. the act of dividing, demoralising, controlling and subjugating a select group of people while telling them that they are what they are not.


- the long overdue restoration of dignity to this population by treating them the in the same way as everyone else is treated, that is, referencing them by their collective continental ancestral heritage and dispensing with referencing by means of falsehoods as to their skin colour. That will bring them into the fold of humanity as respected and self-respecting, dignified entire human beings with a recognised heritage, i.e. long pre-colonial histories, with rich and diverse cultural contributions to this world, both past and present.


Falsehoods and disrespect are the two most fundamental tenets of racism.

Feeding falsehoods and poison to parents for long enough practically guarantees that those same parents will feed those same falsehoods and that poison to their children. British colonialism did that for centuries and has until now ensured post-colonial society continues to do it.


No amount of people of African heritage requesting or demanding:

"Please respect me, l"m a "black person”."will ever garner that craved for respect. Nor will they ever attain true equality nor eliminate racism, no matter how often it is requested or demanded. It hasn’t worked and doesn’t work.


Likewise, British people and, in particular, those representing British institutions guilty of racism, are not going to succeed in eradicating this chronic and specific form of racism by repeating the same tired platitude: “We realise we still have a long way to go in tackling racism.” while taking no steps forward to tackle the underlying anomaly.


Likewise, importing latest American designer terminologies to import into the national vernacular such as “people of colour” and “unconscious bias” while macro- and micro-aggressions where “black” is contained within the verbal insults or graffiti continue regardless, isn’t the solution.



As Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”


Key message:  “Black” is harmful - it aggravates and perpetuates racism.


So, at long last, let's detoxify difference.


Where to start?


Two places actually:


a) Parliament


I urge MPs, peers and all Parliamentary and constituency staff to use ‘of African heritage’ in all verbal and written communication. This will have a powerful effect. For a start, the media will be the first to pick up on it, comment on it and most likely, follow suit because, whether they or the public like it or not, Parliament and politicians are influential. Of all the Select Committees, this one, with its remit including holding people to account on the subject of policing and law and order, is, as you are well aware, one of the most powerful and influential in Parliament. It should therefore be driving this terminological and cultural change. The media is well aware that it controls and manipulates the social fabric of this country, while frequently failing to take responsibility. Now is a good opportunity to show that them how to take responsibility rather than just report and make a profit.


b) The Office for National Statistics


The ONS is also highly influential through the terminology it uses in its publications, and chiefly of all, the ethnic categories template the entire UK, public and private sector, uses and relies on. The first two columns of that toxic template must change if we are to move to a Britain (and world, for that matter, given the influence it has and the example it could set) of consistency and, more importantly, true equality on race.


I met the then deputy statistician, Mr Iain Bell, in February 2018, three years before this year’s Census. As it turns out, and as you most probably know, three years before each Census happens to be the year when the ONS has to finalise its Census questionnaire, the answers to which stay on record for 106 years. Having pledged to engage, after declaring that he hadn’t intended to engage before we met, he temporised, fobbed me off and put through the same old unchanged document for Parliamentary approval, which it received, and the status quo, for now at least, was retained. Here is how I suggest the two first columns could and should look:





* British - continental African


* British - African-Caribbean



From Northern Ireland



Other African heritage - specify

Other - specify










* You could arguably leave out these two rows given that we are talking about ancestral heritage and those completing the questionnaire would be British citizens anyway and would have stated their place of birth somewhere else in the questionnaire.



This is the formula for a future where people of African heritage can be spoken to and talked about while preserving their dignity as whole human beings, like everyone else is. That is equality. A future where discussion on the lives and life chances of people of African heritage in Britain can discussed with dignity and where comparison of the lives, obstacles, life chances and traditions of people of African heritage can be compared with those of European heritage in Britain without toxicity, polarisation, alienation and the fear of causing offence. And last but not least, games of divide and rule played can be laid to rest once and for all.


There's an endless plethora of knock-on benefits. To list just a few:


1) Even at the most basic level, quite aside from the move away from the directly offensive racism it spawns, there's the indirect racism of the ignorant and offensive term "blacking up" that the media and student magazines and actors and actresses (even those that are sympathetic or well-meaning or high-brow) use to refer to the act of Europeans applying makeup to their faces to impersonate people of African heritage.


2) Then there's the bringing of an end to the industry of "black" that now saturates the internet; and l mean British and other websites that copy the American ones in debasing people of African heritage; and the labelling of sub-Saharan Africa and its peoples as "black Africa" and "black Africans" respectively even, again, by well-meaning, otherwise highly educated journalists.


3) Then there is a stop to the ignorant, over-simplistic, and frankly deliberately oppositional and racist way in which journalists report interracial relationships and their offspring.


4) Then at a higher level it brings to an end the same ignorant, over-simplistic, and frankly deliberately oppositional and racist way in which the Office for National Statistics (ONS), again, staffed by otherwise highly educated statisticians, collects and presents demographic data for Censuses and other reports.


if you are in any doubt about double standards in reference to the people of African heritage versus people from the various other ethnic minorities of the UK, look at the following, that people say in normal conversation today in a supposedly fair, enlightened and forward-looking society Britain prides itself on being. All of them, I’ve either first hand professionally and socially or others have and I’ve been privy to their complaints about it:


A schoolteacher: “In terms of ethnic minority pupils in my class, I have six of South Asian heritage, two of  Arab heritage and two blacks.”


“My wife is of Persian heritage.”


“I’ve got a black wife.”


“What would you rather have - a black nurse, an Asian nurse or white nurse treating you?"


“I like my coffee sweet and black: like my men.”


Police: “Just another case of  “ black-on-black ” crime.”


“He was black as the ace of spades, but he was OK.”


“I’m just a black guy from east London.”


“We have a high intake of students of East Asian heritage, mostly Chinese and Korean."


“There are too many blacks in my store; black boys, black girls, I don’t care - I haven’t got time for blacks.”



The time for real equality is long overdue.




Additional audio file evidence:




The file contents are as follows. For context I've listed them in the order that they were recorded, even though their file numbers might suggest a numerical order:


Z0000285.mp3 British lady of African heritage calling the Vanessa Feltz show BBC London 12th April 2021, arguing against being labelled "black"


Z0000280.mp3 Lady of African heritage same show 12.4.2021, arguing against being called "black"


Z0000279.mp3 British man of African heritage calling the same show 12.4.2021, arguing against being called "black", while Ms Feltz unwittingly trivialises it while doing her job of playing devil's advocate 


Z0000288.mp3 My note about the show, after that show, 12.4.2021


Z0000308 Excerpt from BBC Breakfast (television) - sport - BBC1 9th December 2021 - with my note prefacing the recording - illustrating the double-standard in rules used for labelling British people from ethnic minorities; the dignified, respectable and accurate terminology used for South Asians (and indeed other Asian and other populations that are not of African heritage)


Z0000320 Excerpt from the Great Lives programme BBC Radio 4, presented by Matthew Parr's - with my note prefacing the recording - illustrating the same double-standard



Radio 4's Woman's Hour, featured in BBC news:






December 2021