A recent article on the BBC website about Benedict Cumberbatch using the term "coloured" to describe black actors brought forth some interesting comments from the British Sociological Association (BSA).
The article gave some background to usage of the term and why it was considered offensive in the US and also pointed to areas where it was not; such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) a huge organisation in the US, which seeks to end discrimination on the basis of race.
Benedict Cumberbatch did apologise for his use of the word and many people felt it should not draw attention away from the important message Cumberbatch was trying to get across, which was that there were more opportunities for black actors in Hollywood than in the UK. In a statement he said: "I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive."
The BBC however then quoted some rather unhelpful advice from the BSA, which said 'there are other words and phrases used to describe race, skin colour and heritage which could be found offensive however.
"Halfe-caste" is a "dated, racist term which should be avoided", they explain. Which we agree with perhaps they could persuade the media to stop using it. Also getting the spelling right would ensure the message was understood.
"Mixed race is a misleading term since it implies that a 'pure race' exists." Erm, the term mixed-race is one which a lot of racially mixed people are happy to use to describe themselves and if the terms black and white are used then mixed-race must be equally acceptable.
They advise alternatives including "mixed parentage" and "dual heritage". To advise alternatives such as "mixed parentage" and "dual heritage" shows how out of touch the British Sociological Association are with terminology that is accurate and inoffensive as both terms can refer to individuals who have more than one culture and do not necessarily refer to those who have parents of different races.
For an organisation that promotes sociology, the British Sociological Association seems to have little understanding of the mixed-race experience.
Maybe the BBC should think about the impact relaying such information can have on a group already marginalised by decades of miseducation from the media.