Earlier this year Mercy For Animals outlined nine practices to move our organization’s racial justice work forward. We know that just opposing racial injustice and inequity isn’t enough. We are committed to being antiracist and rooting out systems of oppression in our organization and throughout our society.
Since announcing our support for the Black Lives Matter movement, many of our supporters have questioned why an animal protection organization would weigh in on other social justice movements. The fact is our food system is built on and promotes racial inequity. Racial injustice and food are closely tied together. Factory farms regularly pollute neighborhoods in communities of color without any consequences. Black communities have fewer and poorer-quality food choices on average than white communities. Our work to change the food system requires us to recognize the impact of systemic racism and do our best to foster equity and inclusion.
To hold ourselves accountable to this work, we will regularly share our progress with our supporters. Here are some highlights of our accomplishments so far:
We created the first Mercy For Animals Global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Committee
Our global DEIJ committee began meeting in July to recommend improvements to antidiscrimination and antiracism policies at Mercy For Animals. The committee first distributed an organization-wide DEIJ literacy survey to better understand our current organizational familiarity with antiracism and racial justice principles and practices. The committee will design and offer tailored learning opportunities based on the survey results to help the organization increase our DEIJ literacy in meaningful ways.
Additionally, nine team members from around the world, including from Brazil, Latin America, the United States, and Canada, attended the Encompass Foundational DEI Institute, a transformative two-day training on DEI and racial equity in the farmed animal protection movement.
We are updating our hiring practices to bring more racial and ethnic diversity to our team.
Having a diverse workforce makes us a stronger organization and a better ally for farmed animals. We continue to assess and improve how we find and recruit new team members and review our hiring process to minimize any potential for personal or unconscious bias. We’ve updated our DEIJ and antiracism commitments on our jobs website. And we’ve identified and engaged with several new job boards with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
We’re also committed to increasing diversity on our board of directors. We’ve designed and launched a new board-member recruitment process with a focus on proven experience in and dedication to antiracism and DEIJ principles and practices.
We partnered with organizations that serve minority and marginalized communities.
Recognizing that we will not end factory farming without including diverse communities in our work, we launched a campaign in partnership with Forward Latino and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The #MeatFreeinSolidarity campaign aims to build public support for slaughterhouse workers, who are treated as disposable by the meat industry and are at high risk for COVID-19. Our campaign calls on companies to do more to protect workers and reduce suffering for animals.
We also collaborated with indigenous community activist David Shane Lowry, an associate professor of anthropology at Biola University and a member of the Lumbee tribe, on our new lawsuit challenging the USDA’s bird flu response plan and the department’s failure to consider the impact of the plan on BIPOC and low-income communities.
Our mission to end factory farming also involves raising awareness about plant-based food. Our Plants to the People project expanded to include partnerships with community organizations and vegan restaurants to serve 1,800 plant-based meals to marginalized communities in Camden and Newark, New Jersey. Read what participants had to say in this news article about our work.
Another key component of our commitment to racial justice is to partner with and invest in Black activists and their communities. To this end, we are launching a pilot grant program that will distribute funds to U.S.-based Black activists working to build a compassionate plant-based food system—work that both reduces animal suffering and helps communities thrive. Stay tuned for more information!
We’re educating ourselves and our supporters on the intersection of animal rights and racial justice.
The Mercy For Animals public engagement team created a six-month content plan to educate supporters on key issues in our food system where animal suffering and racism converge, such as environmental racism, worker exploitation, and food deserts. We’ve also provided pro bono video support to BIPOC-led projects.
We are committed to highlighting BIPOC vegan activists and have featured the work of Veggie Mijas, Chef Babette, John Lewis, and Black VegFest founder Omowale Adewale on our platforms.
You can check out the full report on our DEIJ work this year here. Dismantling systemic racism in our movement and our food system requires all of us to pitch in. What are some ideas you have on how Mercy For Animals can work toward racial equity and inclusion? We’d love to hear. Share your ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.