Michele “Shelly” DeBiasse, PhD, RDN

Inclusion begins with I

Diversity is vital to all aspects of our society, but diversity without inclusion is ineffective.  Similarly, inserting the word “inclusion” into one’s diversity statement without operationalizing it amounts to tokenism. Inclusion is “an active process in which voices and perspectives of diverse members are heard and respected” (DeBiasse & Burt, 2019).  Diversity without inclusion is not sustainable.

Lack of true diversity and inclusion in the profession of dietetics is a problem in the United States as well as Canada and Great Britain.  We know the racial/ethnic disparity within the dietetics profession (2020 data: Black/African American RDNs 2.6% vs. white 81.1%)(cdr.net/registry-statistics accessed January 14, 2021). We don’t know the demographic data for dietitians in terms of gender/sexuality nor disability as our credentialing agency does not collect those data.  We argue in our recent Nwl_RDPG_Summer2021_Final that it is impossible to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in dietetics without collecting these demographic data so that both the current state of diversity in terms of historically excluded groups, and any change in representation of historically excluded groups can be monitored.

As a profession, we MUST do better.  And it is especially important for those of us in positions of privilege to do the “internal and external” work required in order for our profession to be truly diverse and inclusive.  Please join me.

Research Matters.

I believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can be improved in dietetics through research.  Dietetics is elevated through "evidence-based" practice.  As such, I believe that by generating evidence through research the profession will act.  In this case I believe that "the master's tools can dismantle the master's house", to turn a quote from Audre Lorde.  If the profession elevates data, we will use data to incite change.

A Social Media Intervention for Dietetics Professionals to Increase Awareness about Racial/Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion in Dietetics: Black Voices Centered

Click here to read our publication in the Journal of Critical Dietetics calling in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy) to improve diversity and inclusion in dietetics and suggestions for next steps.

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Kindred Organizations

Groups working to create change in the profession.

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

I acknowledge the land upon which Boston University stands and I work as a sacred place for peoples of the Pawtucket and Wampanoag (Wôpanâak) nations.  This land was appropriated and colonized unlawfully, and this colonization dishonored both the peoples of these nations and the land.  I speak this land acknowledgement as an individual whose ancestors perpetuated these crimes, and as a scholar-activist who is working toward an equitable, diverse and inclusive nation alongside Ashley Wells (Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation) of the office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion, National Institutes of Health.  My commitment to the struggle against systemic oppression includes systems that have dispossessed Indigenous peoples of their lands, and denied them of their rights to freedom and self-determination.