On Monday I attended an event which turned out to be totally different from what I thought it would be (and not exactly in a good way).
The event was advertised as being on the subject of Mental Health (which is part of the reason I went).
I admit I wasn’t there at the beginning but the talks I heard all made me feel like I was in a three-way Minority (this is unusual because I am more used to just being Half-Dutch and Disabled). I have never felt so “got at” for the sheer fluke of being white than I did after hearing the talks I did listen to. (I nearly cheered when one man pointed out that one section of society wasn’t represented at the event – the Roma/Traveller community. Well, the lady in charge of the event had been saying how diverse the people were.)
Seriously, some of the speakers did have some good points to make. There aren’t enough minorities represented in Public life, and I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that if you want someone to pick up and read a leaflet aimed at them it helps if you represent them in the cover photo.
One speaker reminded me about something I remembered from a very long time ago. At one point EastEnders had a character with Sickle Cell Anaemia. There are a few black characters in EastEnders now but none of them appear to have the condition.
Minorities come in all forms – we have the BAME group, we have the LGBT community, we have the various disabilities, we even have people from different nationalities who don’t get represented in our Political life (for example, my Mum couldn’t vote in a General Election because she chose to keep her Dutch nationality – even though she lived here for most of her life).
If we are going to focus on how best to represent the minorities we should maybe also look at where the minorities merge and how that can be represented as well. For example, a BAME person who is also disabled or a member of the LGBT community.
We need to have a national conversation about the best way to represent all minorities – not just the ones who hit the headlines the most.