Being Black and Brown in White Spaces – An Open Letter.
Let me first start off by saying, I am not the voice for all black and brown folks. This is the opinion of one Black woman.
Secondly, I am not here to help you with your fragility or guilt that has come up in conversations about anti-racism. I am here to give you some more insight and perspective on what it is like to be a person of color in white-dominant spaces. Particularly being a clinician of color in the eating disorder community.
I have been a Registered Dietitian for ten years. I am also dually licensed as a Registered Nurse and yoga instructor and working on my Doctor of Nursing Practice to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. I have held numerous board positions in my community and co-founded a non-profit to help eradicate human trafficking. I have worked alongside the FBI, Homeland Security, local and state law enforcement. Why am I telling you all of this? Because that is what black and brown professionals must do, to occupy majority-white spaces. We are always having to prove our worth.
I cannot speak for every dietitian when I say this, but being a black dietitian working in eating disorders is often isolating, lonely, and oppressive. If an eating disorder treatment center has a person of color on staff who is in a leadership role or a therapist or dietitian, they are often the only ONE.
We are constantly having to prove our self-worth, discipline, and credentials to get a seat at the table in which you lead.
This is what I am asking you to do. I am asking you to continue using your privilege, your voice, and your influence to help those who do not look like you. Work on behalf of marginalized communities. Pay dietitians and clinicians of color their fair service fee when you ask them to come and speak at your events. Make a commitment to not only engage in anti-racism work but commit to do the work of deconstructing colonialism in all aspects of your life and community. I am also asking you to examine the ways in which you internalize white supremacy and uphold its roots. Acknowledge how your relationship and need for titles and certifications upholds gatekeeping.
Collectively we can dismantle oppressive gatekeeping systems.