Opening up my census, then, I looked with incredulous disappointment at the questions asked, the options furnished, and the assumptions which the questionnaire implicitly subscribes to. Worse, the census asks us the question what is your ethnic group? Its emphasis is not on ethnic background, your parents or wherever in the world they may have hailed from. Throughout, the questions are obsessed with pigmentation. It is grotesque. Interestingly, I discover that the Census questionnaire differs in different parts of the United Kingdom - and that the offending section on ethnicity is also different, North of the Tweed. Britology Watch has the full text of both English and Welsh and Scottish questions, and subsequently pens a very sharp post on the implications of this, which largely captures my own feelings. I'd vigorously encourage everyone to read the post and have a think about it. Here's an excerpt from his analysis:
"Spot the difference? In England and Wales, non-white ethnic groups, are not offered the standard option of including ‘English’ as part of their ethnic group: they’re officially classified only as ‘Black British’, ‘Asian British’, etc., and not ‘Black English’ or ‘Asian English’. By contrast, black and Asian persons living in Scotland are permitted to identify as ‘Black Scottish’ and ‘Asian Scottish’.
Not only is the ethnicity of black and minority ethnic (BAME) persons in England and Wales not officially to be classified as ‘English’ or ‘Welsh’, but those latter terms are reserved as ethnic categories exclusively for white persons. I.e., according to British officialdom, if you’re ethnically English, you’re white. If that sounds a bit like the BNP, that’s because this is a form of – indeed, a form for – racial apartheid."
Read the full post here: White and English, but not white-English: how to deal with the discriminatory Census for England and Wales...