What is your ethnic background?
- White British
- White Irish
- Gypsy or Irish Traveller
- Asian British
- Black African
- Black Caribbean
- Asian British
- Mixed White and Black Caribbean
- Mixed White and Black African
- Mixed White and Asian
This list is from the Office of National Statistics website. It’s the same list I come across every time I fill in any sort of governmental or public sector application or registration form.
I am other. I am always other. It is 2018 and my ethnic origin is still not listed. Arab is not deemed to be a legitimate ethnic group, and so I must select other and ‘please provide details.’ Sometimes, my details are not required. I am simply ‘other’.
I am not Arab British, or Middle Eastern British or North African British. I am other. There’s something particularly ironic about the inclusion of an ‘equal opportunities’ section of an application form in which I am not awarded an equal choice.
It is precisely this type of identity displacement that perhaps causes issues amongst my ‘ethnic group’. What are we? Where do we fit? Are we really British?
‘Other’, by its very definition is dehumanising. And 30 years of having to select this option, of being told I am different, has quite possibly, on both a conscious and subconscious level, made me wonder, do I really belong? Add to that – Brexit, Trump and well…the Internet, and it’s not hard to understand my confusion.
However, for the first time, it feels like ‘others’ are demanding to be seen. To be included. To be recognised. And perhaps this very blog post will shine a light on the inequality of ‘equal opportunities’, and these sections will be no longer be a requirement of application forms, because who are you kidding? We don’t live in an equal world, and my classification as ‘other’ is a painstakingly obvious, if not somewhat farcical, indication of this.