The term BME is a shortened version of the phrase Black Minority Ethnic. Generally speaking in the UK it does not just refer to race based on ethnicity. For instance those groups who are non white such as black, coloured, South Asian or Chinese but also to disabled people as well. Mixed race people who have parents from different ethnic groups also fall into this category.
This is such a wide ranging term that many different minority groups will come under it. Originally it was a term used to describe people of Asian descent whose ancestors emigrated to the UK from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As well as those black people whose forefathers originally came from the West Indies. The vast majority of these groups started coming to England from the 1960’s onwards. They got jobs and started settling down and had families and integrated into the wider community, hence the term multiculturalism. However recently from the late 1990’s onwards there has been a large influx of asylum seekers into the UK. These tend to come from the Middle East, Africa or countries like Iran or Afghanistan. It can be argued that these recent immigrants could also be classed as Black Minority Ethnic.
Most BME groups live in most of the major cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester just to name a few. It is a fact that the vast majority could be classed as working class, and tend to live in the inner cities and the more deprived areas of big cities.
Local authorities and public sector employers actively promote diversity jobs within their organisations to ensure these minorities are represented in their work force.
The 2001 census showed that at the time there were 4.5 million people in England and Wales who were classed as non white. This would estimate them at nearly 9 per cent of the population making the UK making ethnic diversity a big political issue.