The collections at BCA contain evidence of racism over several centuries. As a result there are a number of terms that we have used in our catalogue that need some explanation.We have a policy on the use of racially offensive terms (see FAQs) and we have retained many of the words used in original documents in order not to compromise the historical accuracy of the archive.

However, elsewhere in the catalogue we have used a number of preferred terms where some historic terms, if not offensive, may be out-of-date or otherwise are not preferred for a variety of reasons. Some of these are listed below.

Please note this list is under regular review and may be added to. Your comments and feedback on this glossary are (see Feedback)

Black (rather than black):

Black, when used to refer to people of African or African-Caribbean descent, is capitalised to indicate the broader political resonances of the term.

Enslaved person/people (rather than slave/s):

referring to a person as ‘a slave’ defines them by what has been done to them, ‘enslaved person’ better reflects the involuntary and violent nature of enslavement.

Enslavement (rather than slavery) See above.

Transatlantic Slave Trade (rather than slave trade):

Use of this term differentiates this particular slave trade from any other trading of enslaved people and also emphasises that enslavement had as much to do with the Americas and Europe as with Africa.

Caribbean (rather than West Indies):

‘West Indies’ is a Euro-centric term rooted in colonial ideas of geography and trade.

Uprisings (rather than riots):

The use of ‘uprisings’ sees the civil unrest in London, Liverpool, Bristol and other parts of Britain in the 1970s and 1980s as legitimate forms of protest against the actions of the state and its agents. Referring to them as ‘riots’ sees them simply as aggressive, illegal events.

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