It's me again. I suppose you wonder what that title means? Considering it's summer, it could be about baseball, but it's not. It's about an article I read this morning on the news channel from my hometown. I always check WEAU in the morning for local stories, since my daughter lives there. Today they had a title that grabbed my attention immediately. "Leinenkugel's and UW-Madison Announce Diversity Scholarship." My instant reaction was, "YES! This is awesome!" I grew up in Eau Claire my entire life and you didn't go to a party or event without Leinenkugel's beer present. "Hand me a Leine's!" was a standard phrase at every party. My mom even went to school with one of the Leinenkugel boys. The joke is, if you're born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, you cut your teeth on Leine's. Needless to say, I was excited to read that article. I clicked it open and started to read. I got to the part where they listed who could apply for the diversity scholarship. It was open to students studying fermentation science at UW-Madison who identify as Latino, Black/African American, American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander and/or LGBTQ+. My heart sank immediately. I put the phone down and worked on a book about an amputee that will release this fall. I couldn't concentrate, so I thought, "Okay, maybe they just left the disabled community off by accident." (The forever optimist when it comes to fighting for this community) I searched other sites in hopes that one of them would list people with disabilities. I read four more articles to find out there are three other scholarships at other universities around the country, but none of them mentioned people with disabilities.
A swing and a miss Leinenkugel's. I read through several of the other articles and Dustin Watts, from Terrapin Beer Co. said, and I quote, "Diversity is extremely important in the workplace. In craft beer, we’ve always joked that if you go to a craft beer conference, you see a lot of beards and tattoos on white people. We hope to change that by making education and a career path more viable for underrepresented students.”
I agree with Dustin completely. Diversity is extremely important in the workplace. I understand they are trying to bring people of color into the craft brewing industry but here's the thing, diversity INCLUDES people with disabilities too! I might be a white woman with tattoos (Thankfully, no beard!) but the fact that I'm disabled and a woman, immediately changes that narrative. My friends who are disabled deserve the same chance for education and a career path as not only underrepresented students but underrepresented community members. Here's the thing. Diversity is the fact. INCLUSION is the ACT. You can't talk diversity out one side of your lips without talking inclusion out the other side.
As you can see, even Merriam-Webster uses the word in the definition of diversity. If you are looking for underrepresented students then you are missing an entire population of them by not including students with disabilities.
Yep, that's my friend Levi Kane. He likes beer too. He is an above knee amputee. He IS diversity. I AM diversity. We just need the inclusion part. I have pipe dreams of one day not having to write these posts and feel like I'm spitting in the wind. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely thrilled that the craft beer industry is looking to diversify their industry through education. I just wish people weren't so damn uncomfortable, or afraid, or whatever the reason is they never include people with disabilities in their diversity plans. We have SO much to offer industries who are looking to diversify their workforce and their companies, but yet, we are never included. I will say that this hometown girl is disappointed when a company the size of Leinenkugel's AND a Big Ten university couldn't stop and say to themselves, "What about students with disabilities?" I can be about 100% assured no one did since they didn't list them as eligible for the scholarship. That's the most disappointing part about my morning. Somewhere in Wisconsin, a student with disabilities got as excited as I did to read that story, only to see that once again, they weren't included in the 'diversity' scholarship. Wherever that student is, my promise to you is to continue to write these blog posts until something changes. We have to put ourselves in the path of these companies and say, "We are here and have so much to offer your company!"
We also drink beer. Come on, Dick Leinenkugel and UW-Madison, this isn't hard. The end.
Katie Mettner writes small-town romantic tales, filled with epic love stories and happily-ever-afters.
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