The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have sparked a large conversation about not only police reform, but black issues in all facets of life. On June 7, 2020, CEO Emily Brown drafted an emotional blog post in light of the recent events, sharing her own experiences with being ignored. Brown, a black food allergy mom herself, has experienced racism and discrimination throughout her life, including the beginning of her children’s lives when she asked for assistance for her children’s healthcare through a patient advocacy group and was ignored.
It was this open letter that led to the creation of the webinar, For the Health: A Conversation on Race and Food Allergy. This webinar, which took place this past Juneteenth (a day celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the south) reached over 1,000 people around the world and the US.
Moderated by ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis & certified professional coach/operations consultant Karen Palmer, the panelists included:
- Emily Brown of Food Equality Initiative
- Denise Woodard of Partake Foods
- Javier Evelyn of Alerje
- Dr. Lakiea Wright-Bello of Thermo Fisher Scientific
- Thomas & Dina Silvera of the Elijah-Alavi Foundation
A common thought amongst the panelists during the conversation was the large, underlying presence of race inequality and healthcare disparities- especially with food allergies and asthma.
What can allies do to help?
The answer is two-fold:
1. Take a step towards educating yourself on the needs of the community, recognize the disparities that exist, & continue to educate yourself.
It is up to YOU to be aware of the disparities and inequalities that exist in health, more specifically when it comes to food allergies & asthma. Even partaking in the For the Health Webinar to join a conversation on community issues is taking the first step. Gwen Smith of Allergic Living published “Food Allergy and Asthma: the Burden on the Black Community” which provides additional research and readings.
2. Support black-led organizations doing work on the ground.
During the webinar, Emily Brown announced Food Equality Initiative’s Seven Percent Coalition & Fund to address economic and racial disparities in food allergies. The 7% represents the statistic that black children are 7% more likely to have food allergies compared to white children, according to a study by the Journal of Academic Pediatrics. Furthermore, support businesses & organizations such as Partake Foods, Alerje, and the Elijah-Alavi Foundation whose initiatives align with the needs of the community.
Continue to educate yourself on racial disparities in food allergy as well as asthma and do what you can to help. Tune in for the second webinar in the series of #ForTheHealth conversations, where the conversation is with corporate/industry allies- more information to come!