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…