Why we don’t use ‘BAME’ in our content
We stopped using ‘BAME’ in our content in 2017 because it’s a contentious term, as many others have pointed out over the last few years in articles (BMJ), blogs (GOV.UK) and tweets.
There are numerous reasons why the term ‘BAME’ is problematic, but I’m going to focus on why it is inappropriate and unhelpful to use in our content — and what we do instead.
Define our audience
Before we begin writing we need to know who we are writing for. Based on some quick research (using search terms, google analytics, forums, social media, academic research, and professional guidance to name a few sources) we are able to be very specific about the audience, or audiences, we are writing for. For example; 50-year-old Black women looking for information about DNR forms.
Not only is ‘BAME’ non-specific, the term homogenises communities of people with diverse cultures, experiences, challenges and needs. Therefore, instead of using ‘BAME’, we identify who we are actually talking about, or trying to reach, and write that instead.
Understand their needs
Content should always meet specific user needs and/or promote our organisational aims. What are people looking for? What message are we trying to convey? How have they found us? How have we tried to reach them?
Understanding that different audiences have different needs and approaching them individually is imperative to successful content. So instead of writing information to meet the needs of ‘BAME’ people, we need to identify the individual needs people have and write specifically for them. There may be some cross over, and that’s fine, but we should never assume.
I do not identify with others on the basis that neither of us is white.
Emma Dabiri, Teaching fellow at SOAS University of London
Prioritise audience needs
Once we understand our audience and their needs, we also have to understand their priorities. This is so we can prioritise and highlight specific content. At Compassion in Dying we understand that people’s priorities differ dramatically when it comes to medical treatment at the end of life. This will be no different for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
For example, when working with a group of South Asian Elders in Newham we discovered a common priority was having an introduction to end of life planning written in their first languages, to share with their family. From this learning we developed information in the six main languages used by their community including Bengali, Gujarati and Punjabi.
Lastly, we research, reflect and test the language and terminology we use. We describe people as they describe themselves. And we use the language they use to describe processes and experiences, so they understand what we are talking about. Reflecting our audience’s language will mean:
- they find our content when they search for what they are looking for
- the information will resonate with them
- they are more likely to understand what we are telling them
Designing successful content is a process, and at the core of that process is our audience’s needs and priorities. So I encourage you to let your readers lead you when it comes to ethnicity terminology, and you can’t go wrong.
We’re currently working on some exciting DNR content for our new alpha website, hopefully launching at the end of this year!
If you’d like to know more about any of our work we’d love to hear from you.