What is Race & Ethnicity?

Ethnicity refers to a common group identity based on language, culture, religion or other social characteristics. This means that people define their own ethnicity, that everyone (and not just those in minorities) has ethnicity and that a person's ethnic identity may change over time. For example some people might describe themselves as Scottish Chinese.

Race is the group you belong to, or are perceived to belong to, in the light of a limited range of physical factors. The term ‘race’ should be used in relation to legislation only and not to describe people who belong to an ethnic group.

The term BME is often used within the public sector. It’s an abbreviated term for Black and Minority Ethnic and is often used to describe people from minority ethnic groups, particular those who have suffered racism or are in the minority because of their skin colour and/or ethnicity.

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