Racism doesn’t stop because they are sick.

I am a nurse. I am a proud nurse. I am a proud BLACK nurse. I have never refused to treat someone because of the color of their skin. I have had patients refuse me as their nurse because of the color of my skin.

Racism doesn’t stop because someone is sick. 

I have been called a “black bitch”, “nigger”, reduced to “that colored girl”. I have had patients assume I am “the help” and ask for me to send in their “real nurse”. I have had patients assume I can’t be the one in charge because I am black and “black people can’t be in charge”. I still gave them the best care because I am a nurse, a damn good one at that.

When I decided to enter this field I knew that it would not be all hand-holding and smiles, regardless of what the NCLEX would have me believe. I knew there would be struggles. I knew there would be moments when I question whether I am strong enough. I knew I would question whether I am smart enough. I understood how intense nursing would be. I did not think I would be held to a different standard because of the color of my skin. I did not think that even at their sickest moment a racist would still be a racist. Call me naive. I assumed that if someone was dying they wouldn’t care who saved them. I was wrong. Racism runs deep. Hatred is ingrained into their souls. It is who they are. That level of ignorance is all they know.

I cannot take their stupidity to heart. My skin is not a cloak of shame but a badge of honor. I carry the strength of ancestors that have endured and survived hell, I am proud of that.  My skin does not have anything to do with my nursing abilities. My skin does not make me more or less of a person or nurse than anyone else. I am a good nurse because I make the effort to be. I continue to learn and grow because nursing never stops changing. Racism cannot stop me. Racism will not stop me. Racism will make me bring the pain meds a lot slower though…

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10 thoughts on “Racism doesn’t stop because they are sick.

  1. It’s so true! I see it too. Not just colour of skin, but even with tattoos. I have tattoos, but luckily I can hide most of them. But I do have a sunflower on my wrist. Some will like it and others will make comment like ‘why have you done that, it makes you look so common’. I just politely smile ‘thank you’ and carry on. Rasicm is very diffrent though, patients shouldn’t be able to give any form of abuse. Its wrong. 😦 Just becuase they are the patient it doesn’t give them the right. ❤

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  2. I’m so sorry to read about your experiences. (Reminds me of the movie with Sidney Poitier as a medical intern treating a racist character in “No Way Out”.) It speaks to your character that you carry on as a professional regardless of what they say. That is admirable.

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  3. Here’s my take on this: Those are beliefs, and beliefs are what you hold on to navigate through your chosen life experience. Hate, as we all know, is rooted in fear and fear is just as mighty in force as love. Even through ailments and near death, these two energies are strongholds by choice. So, yeah, my first response is shock from reading about this type of experience as my logic debates for the opposing behavior. But then my wisdom kicks in and says to me, “There is balance in all things in this experience called life.” My wisdom then activates my love and compassion. High-five to the ‘mysterious’ delay of pain meds! Haha!

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