Race Equality in Nature & Conservation and Black2Nature

Race Equality in Nature & Conservation and Black2Nature

Chris Packham’s Peoples Walk for Nature is this Saturday 22nd September 2018, meeting in Hyde Park, London at 10 am with speakers starting at midday and the march between 1 pm and 2 pm.

Today, Chris Packham has published “The Peoples’ Manifesto for Wildlife” with 18 Ministers or experts in a number of areas ahead of the march http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/a-peoples-manifesto-for-wildlife

Ministers are:

I am unbelieveably proud to have been asked to write the Ministery of Diversity in Nature and Conservation.

This is a Podcast from Lush intervewing many of the Ministers http://player.lush.com/channels/soapbox/radio/soapbox-voices-peoples-manifesto-wildlife
If you don’t know anything about me, this is what I have been up to since I started campaigning and raising awareness about the lack of VME (visible minority ethnic) out in nature and green spaces since January 2015 when I was 12 years old. I have given an explanation of my use of VME below.

  • I have arranged:
  • Four Camp Avalons for inner city VME teenagers and children;
  • A film-making workshop for VME teenagers with Icon Films in inner city Bristol;
  • The Race Equality in Nature Conference in June 2016 with Bill Oddie, Kerry McCarthy (shadow Environment Secretary at the time), Stephen Moss and Dr Richard Benwell. His most striking comment was when he talked about every citizens’ right to access nature in the same way as their right to access health or education;
  • Spoken at national conferences, including Science and Geography teachers about how to include nature in  lessons and be relevant to VME teenagers
  • Panel appearances including with Caroline Lucas and George Monbiot discussing “Sustainability and the Future of Cities” and at Hay Festival’s “Do You Have to be White and Well-off to be Green?”;
  • Met with leaders of organisations in the nature conservation and environment sector to discuss the issue;
  • Set up Black2Nature as a campagining oganisation to work with conservation and environmental organisations, to increase on the 0.6% of environmental staff who are VME;
  • Raised the issue of the lack of diversity in nature on TV (eg BBC West’s Inside Out and BBC2’s Hugh’s Wild West) and in the nature media.
Camp Chew 2017
Camp Chew 2017
Race Equality in Nature Conference June 2016

Race Equality in Nature Conference June 2016
Camp Avalon 2017
Festival of the Future City
Mya-Rose Craig and George Monbiot, Festival of the Future City
Mya-Rose Craig, Caroline Lucas & George Monbiot, Festival of the Future City

Even if you can’t make it to the march, please post on Chris’ website on his Wonder-wall

These are links to my previous blog posts on diversity in nature. My linked group, Race Equality in Nature, has a conference summary added.

Race Equality in Nature Conference 6 March 2016


How ethnicity and wealth are impacting on children going into nature 1 June 2016


Birdgirl’s 30 Days Wild – for diverse communities – ideas – 1 June 2016


Birdgirl’s 30 Days Wild, Day 1 – for diverse communities 1 June 2016


Birdgirl’s 30 Days Wild, Day 6 – for diverse communities 6 June 2016


Birdgirl’s 30 Days Wild, Day 9 – for diverse communities 9n June 2016


Interview with BBC Wildlife Magazine 28 September 2016


Race Equality in Nature Conference – Black2Nature 1 November 2016


Speaking at the association of Science (ASE) Educators Conference 7 January 2017 – With resource links


Minority Ethnic Peoples’ rural heritage (links no longer work) 23 January 2017


Article in Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing 7 February 2017


Speaking at Bath Spa University Landscape and Change Festival 25 February 2017


Comment – VME or not

First – I am no expert. These are just my thoughts and views. I would love to read more research on this topic.
Second – I would describe myself as Dual Heritage British Bangladeshi.
I have chosen to use the term “Visible Minority Ethnic” (VME) in my ministry. This simply means minority ethnic people who describe themselves as non-white; People who might be discriminated against in the street or who might feel worried about venturing to the countryside because of fear of hate crime (due to their visibility as a minority ethnic person). It was suggested to me as an option by a race expert, Monira Ahmed Chowdhury.
There are lots of terms being used as of 2018 to describe collectively people living in the UK, who for want of a better description, are non-white. These are some of them and what troubles me about them: Non-white or not white
This should never be used (although I have just done that for clarity). It is negative and refers to people by their skin colour alone, which is derogatory.

Black British
My mum shows her age because she started using this term in the 1980s, to include all non-white people, as one political force. I don’t like referring to skin colour and think we have moved on from this. I really don’t like this term at all.

BAME – Black Asian Minority Ethnic
BME – Black Minority Ethnic
This is used nationally by most organisations to describe people who are of non-white descent. It specifically includes people whose ethnicity is African or Caribbean, South or East Asia in the first and people whose ethnicity is anything other than English, Scottish and Welsh. Both single out specific ethnic groups, this can be divisive and exclusionary. They include white people who are from places such as Irish or Western or Eastern European.  This is not ideal for analysing racism against people of non-white descent. For example, 3% of the environmental professionals are BAME but only 0.6% are non-white.

“Race and ethnicity are often used interchangeably but it is useful to be clear about the difference. Race is a socially constructed term without biological merit that has historically been used to categorise different groups of people based on perceived physical differences.”Universities Scotland refers to a 1983 House of Lords decision that suggests an ethnic group would have the following features:

  • a long shared history of which the group is conscious as distinguishing it from other groups and the memory of which it keeps alive
  • a cultural tradition of its own including family and social manners, often but not necessarily associated with religious observance
  • a common, however distant, geographical origin
  • a common language and literature

It is important to remember that everyone has an ethnicity and ‘white British’ is an ethnic group. Bhavnani et al (2005, p. 213) point out that it is common in British culture for ‘ethnic’ to be wrongly used as synonymous with non-white or not-western, for example with ‘ethnic clothes’ or ‘ethnic restaurants’.”

I do not like the word “race” (as in a mixed-race) as there is only one human race and it is wrong to try and say otherwise.

ME – Minority Ethnic
This is a group of people who differ in ethnicity, colour, national or cultural origin from the majority population in the country. It does not include religions that span wide distribution, such as Islam (apparently). Some argue that people of non-white descent are the global majority and describing ourselves as a minority is doing us down. ‘Ethnic Minority’ tends to be reversed to refer to ‘minority ethnic groups’ to highlight the fact that everyone has an ethnicity and the issues being referred to relate to minority groups in a UK context and the discrimination and barriers that they face.

EM – Ethnic Minority
This used to be used commonly but has fallen out of favour. Sociology Professor Tareq Modood prefers it. ‘Ethnic minority’ places the emphasis on ethnicity as the main issue. There can be a tendency in our media and language to see ‘ethnic’ as synonymous with not-white and so the term could be perceived as implying the issue is with people being not-white, or non-white people being the issue.

POC – People of Colour
This has been used in the USA for some time. Before this, coloured was used by African Americans to describe themselves. However, this is a word with very negative connotations in the UK, as it was used as a racist slur up until the 1970’s. Isn’t it confusing to tell people not to use a word because it’s racist and then to ask them to use it again?  It was also used as a derogatory term to categorise dual heritage people under apartheid, South Africa. I also don’t like the reference to skin colour. Sorry, I just can’t get behind it.

Global Majority
I understand that non-white people are in the vast majority globally. I could get behind this term if it was taken up worldwide. However, there is something a little strange about it. Doesn’t it imply that the issue of racism is only between white and non-white? What about Rohinga slaughtered in Burma? What about the killings in Rwanda? I don’t think it is that straightforward. Every country had majority ethnicities and minority ethnicities, that need to be differentiated when talking about racism and discrimination. So I think at the moment I am still going with Minority Ethnic.

Dual Heritage
This is the term I prefer when talking about people with mixed heritage or ethnicity.
Black and Brown
I don’t like this because it is a reference to skin colour but nobody is actually Black. I find it quite offensive. If you look at a make-up brand that covers all skin tones, such as Mac, not one of their foundations is actually white or black. They are all tones of brown. Not everyone falls in with this colour reference, what about Turkish people or Chinese people, do they really fit into “brown”?



About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

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Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

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