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Inclusion Matters

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We've Got Work To Do

by Aleasa Word, FAACT’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

July 2023

In the last few months, FAACT conducted a survey to see how well our community thought we were doing from a DEI perspective. We asked thought-provoking questions not just geared toward those in underrepresented communities but also to those in represented communities. What did we find out? We, like many others, have work to do!

It’s easy to think about things that are the norm in our own unique communities. However, to truly think about how life impacts those who don’t look like, live like, or love like us is not something that stays on the average person’s radar.

Knowing that food allergies impact 32 million Americans, imagine how many of these same Americans represent different dimensions of diversity. Imagine the varied experiences these people have had. Considering different perspectives can help us be better together.

Here are a few things I’ve gathered over the years that people simply don’t think about in many cases until it affects them. With so much on our daily agendas, a point of reflection can benefit us all.

  1. When was the last time you found yourself followed around a store by an employee or stopped by police while driving to “check identification” even though you did nothing wrong? (Racial Profiling)
  2. When was the last time you found yourself uncomfortable around a group of people that don’t look like you but have done nothing to you? (Unconscious Bias)
  3. When was the last time you felt ignored and completely unheard by a healthcare worker when complaining about things unique to women? (Gender Bias)
  4. When was the last time you were treated as a helicopter parent, accused of being dramatic, or excluded due to managing a child’s food allergies? (Disability Discrimination/Exclusion)
  5. When was the last time you had to travel miles to simply go to a grocery store or a pharmacy and perhaps had to go to a gas station, corner store, or bodega instead? (Health or Food Equity Disparity)
  6. When was the last time you were shunned or treated differently because you have a same-sex partner or parents or because identify as non-binary or transgender? (Homophobia/Transphobia)
  7. When was the last time you were told to “go back to your country,” asked where you’re from in a mean way, or given a look of disgust because you had an accent or needed help with English words? (Xenophobia)
  8. When was the last time you wondered how you’d pay for allergen-safe foods or epinephrine auto-injectors? (Economic Disparities)
  9. When was the last time you were talked over, ignored, or told “times have changed” in a not-so-nice way at a school or community even because you are an older caregiver of a child with food allergies? (Age Discrimination)

These questions represent the realities of people in our community. Not all people have easy access to food, let alone safe foods. Not all people are treated fairly when they go to a store, school, physician’s office, or other communities. Some may not be overtly stated but could simply be implied through subtle microaggressions or microinsults.

At FAACT, we are committed to ensuring we do the work internally so we can support the community externally in the best way possible. Our team works on our own biases and inclusion education regularly. Staff members meet and discuss ways our work helps, how civil rights are being addressed for all, and what we STILL need to do. Surveys help us to see if we are moving the needle in the right direction. Our social media posts are diverse in nature. Because we know representation matters, we support heritage months and cultural observances. 

In the coming months, we will report more about what we’ve learned—and we’ll need your help! Will you stand up as an ally for those who have food allergies yet fit into other dimensions of diversity? Will you reflect on natural biases or tendencies that may cause you to overlook the experiences of others? Will you be vocal about the support needed in your own community? Will you lend a helping hand to another family or a support group—or even help educate others within your community? Will you seek to help your healthcare providers understand the needs of the community you represent?

We can all be better together, and FAACT is here to help!