Black Writers Conference? Why not ‘Black & Asian’ Conference? How about ‘Urban’ Writers Conference?
Words mean what we collectively decide they mean. Sometimes a word starts off as one thing then mutates into another. In the UK Black used to be able to embrace the concept that ran (loosely) ‘those who by the colour of their skin suffer from racism’. It was a political term. It could cover many skin colours and so embraced Asian as well as African Caribbean. Then, perhaps influenced by USA usage of the term, it became a little more narrow in its meaning to many people. So in the UK ‘Black & Asian’ came into being to make clear the inclusion of those from the Asian subcontinent. Of course in the USA Asian tends to mean what we might call ‘Far East’ ie (broadly) Chinese. And ‘Black’ in the USA has been replaced substantially by ‘African-American’. In the world of music, ‘Urban’ is popular. ‘Urban’ references a particular style of music that all can create, its cutting edge being found in cities, where, in UK at least, the majority of black people might be found. So what is the tipping point? At what point is the decision made to move from one set of words to another or to retain that original nomenclature? The NAACP (National Association of Coloured People) has kept its original name. It’s a hundred years old and its name references its tradition, its longevity. Yet no one is advocating the use of the word ‘coloured’ to describe Black people. Do they? Ultimately in a day and age when the Stephen Lawrence murder has shown a long long tail and when the current controversy in football over racial abuse simmers on the political weight of #Black’ was considered valid and still relevant. Hence ‘Black Writers Conference’
The twitter summary: Q: ‘Black’ ‘Black & Asian’ ‘African-Caribbean, Asian & Chinese’ ‘UK Visible Minorities’ ‘BME’’? A: “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” –Maya Angelou