UPDATE: How We’re Advancing Our Commitment to Fighting Racial Injustice

In 2020, 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.

To hold ourselves accountable to this work, we regularly share our progress with our supporters. Here are some highlights of our accomplishments from October through December 2020:

We awarded more than $125,000 to Black vegan activists.

In November 2020, we launched the People’s Fund, a pilot program providing grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 (USD) to Black activists working in the U.S. animal protection movement or related movements (vegan food-justice movements, for example). We created this fund to advance our shared mission for animals, support high-impact work, and begin to address the systemic lack of access to funding for Black activists.

Meet the activists and read more about their projects here.

We advocated safer working conditions for slaughterhouse workers.

The majority of slaughterhouse workers are people of color, and many have few other employment options. These workers are paid low wages for dangerous work. Large meat companies treat animals and workers as expendable, which is why our government affairs and public policy team continues to advocate slower slaughter lines to help animals and workers. An article from the Washington Post reveals that slaughterhouses with higher line speeds have a higher rate of COVID-19.

Read more about our work to slow down lines here.

We backed Marcia Fudge for USDA secretary.

We advocated that the Biden administration appoint former Ohio congressperson Marcia Fudge to head the USDA. A vocal critic of our industrial food system, Fudge championed the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act requiring slower slaughter lines during the pandemic. Had she been appointed, Fudge would have been the first Black woman to head the USDA.

While she was appointed to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, not the USDA, we were proud to support her publicly through op-eds, social media posts, and videos, as well as lobbying Biden’s transition team.

We focused on creating region-specific dialogue around DEIJ principles and continued to prioritize diversity in our hiring process.

In quarter four of 2020, we launched DEIJ committees in Brazil, Latin America, the United States, and Canada to gain a deeper understanding of DEIJ issues across our regions of operation, learn from and with one another, and ensure our actions and solutions are regionally focused and relevant. We also added four members to our board of directors with proven experience in and dedication to antiracism and DEIJ principles and practices.

In order to continually assess our recruiting and hiring practices and make them more inclusive and equitable, we launched a voluntary demographic survey as part of our application process in the United States. We designed the survey in partnership with Critical Diversity Solutions. Learn more about our updated DEIJ and antiracism commitments on our jobs page.

We partnered with and supported organizations that serve minoritized and marginalized communities.

Our mission to end factory farming includes raising awareness about plant-based food. Our Plants to the People project, along with New Jersey HipHop is Green, Newark Animal Save, and Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs, coordinated a “Thanksliving” meal distribution in Newark, New Jersey, for people in need. The 150 vegan meals were provided by Black- and women-owned local businesses.

Another key component of our commitment to racial justice is to partner with and invest in Black activists and their communities. Our DEIJ committee in Brazil directed the remainder of their 2020 budget to support other nonprofit organizations, prioritizing overlapping oppressions. As part of a movement for social justice, we know that a collaborative approach is essential for our work. Brazil’s DEIJ committee chose nine organizations that deal with human rights, housing, mood disorders, education, sports, gender, race, poverty, environment, and Indigenous communities. We look forward to opportunities for collaboration with these organizations in the future.

We continue to educate ourselves and our supporters on the intersection of animal rights and racial justice.

Our newest video series examines the intersection of veganism and racial justice.

As part of our DEIJ work, we aim to expand the animal protection movement to ensure that it is inclusive and reflective of the populations we seek to engage. This series of informative videos explores how creating a better world for animals requires addressing interconnected oppression of humans as well.

Watch the video series here.

We are committed to highlighting BIPOC vegan activists and have featured the work of Gabrielle Reyes, Chef Zu, RZA, and Chef Chew on our platforms.

Creating a world where all beings are valued and respected requires us all to pitch in. What are your ideas for 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