First Appeared: | April 28, 2018

Dear English Heritage,

Thank you for providing information on your new Heritage Training Placements programme for ethnic minorities as described at this web address.

I wonder how you define ‘ethnic’. I have two daughters, you see, and they are both half-Nepalese. Does that fit your ‘Minority Ethnic Heritage’ definition? They have both English and Nepalese names: so, if one applied as Zangmu Llama, I presume her application would be accepted? Whereas if she applied as Jane Hawes, may I presume it would be rejected?

To complicate things further, one of my daughters looks Asian. She has ‘Mongoloid’ eyes and an epicanthic fold. My other daughter doesn’t – she has white skin and dark hair and eyes. She is often told she looks Spanish or Brazilian. If she were to apply, would she need to prove her ethnic mix? How do you determine who is ‘ethnic enough’? Do you ask questions about the sex lives of applicants’ parents, or do you require birth certificates? What happens if a birth certificate does not record the father’s name?

And anyway, what exactly counts as ‘ethnic’? Does a Jewish man or woman count as an ethnic minority? You see many Jewish people look exactly like my daughter. Does Spanish count as ‘ethnic’? What about my previous husband who was half Singaporean and half British? He and his brother looked completely different: one looked Chinese and the other looked Caucasian. Does 25 per cent ‘ethnic’ count? Does 12.5 per cent count? Where does ‘ethnic’ end?