Wednesday, 19 September 2018

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

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

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 as 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 counryside 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 derogotory.

Black British
My mum shows her age because she started using this term in the 1980's, 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 describle people who are from non-white decent. It specifically includes people whose ethnicity is African or Carribbean, 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 decent. 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 refer 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 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 (apparantly). Some argue that people of non-white decent 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. Isnt 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 derogotory term to catagorise 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 world wide. 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 straight forward. 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"?


Mya-Rose Craig is a 16-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She is looking forward to visiting Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar birding in 2018 and hopes to see her 5000th bird species in the world.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She is an Ambassador for See It Her Way and a Charter Champion for The Charter for Woods, Trees and People. She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She has also appeared on TV an dis particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans to run her fifth Camp Avalon camp in 2018. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Black Asian Minority Ethnic people and is President. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for posting a comment. Please can you make sure that it is positive and is about me or my blog and not about promoting you or your business. Thanks. Mya-Rose Craig