We at NutriBites want to recognize and celebrate the month of February as Black History Month, a time where we all come together to observe and highlight the many accomplishments and importance of Black Americans throughout our history.
Within and beyond the field of nutrition and scientific research, systemic racism persists and is a social determinant of health, especially affecting the health of Black people. Recognizing this is the first of many steps that need to be taken to dismantle existing racist policies, practices, and biases. In addition to continuing our push to provide nutrition research and science articles through an anti-racist lens and context, this month we want to emphasize the significance of #BlackinNutrition.
Black communities have been subjected to lack of proper representation across all aspects of media and society, and we especially see this within the field of nutrition. Nutrition and dietetics remain overwhelmingly white, with Black and African American dieticians representing 2.6% of all RD and RDNs according to the Commission on Dietetic Registration. This continued underrepresentation affects not only the diversification of thoughts, ideas, and policies but also has devastating impacts on the self esteem of Black people. We see these effects in the way dietetic interventions and treatment practices often are implemented through a predominantly white lens. Education and training in nutrition is presented and taught through white-centric standards as the norm, “…ignoring non-Western cuisines…” or implying that they are unhealthy. This leads to the lack of cultural competency in dietetic practice and perpetuates the dismissal and improper treatment options for Black people.
Prioritizing the cultural considerations and needs for Black families and patients should not be seen as outside the “norm” in dietetic practice. Amplifying the voices and experiences of Black dieticians and professionals, as well as removing barriers to their success within these fields, is one way we continue the push for increased representation and diversity. At NutriBites, we want to use our platform to give due recognition, to celebrate, and to amplify the voices of Black dieticians, both past and present, within our communities.
Black history is American history, and it is important for all of us to know, to read, to learn, and to understand it across all fields and contexts. We hope through our #BlackinNutrition highlights, our readers are able to learn about the many contributions and achievements of successful Black dieticians within our field.
Written by Ryesa Mansoor, Emily Matthew, Ashley Aguillard, and Laetitia Meyrueix