Nursing Me Black

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    Red. Pink. Purple. Green. Yellow. Many of these shades I had already seen in my clinicals. Whether it was from vomit, blood, or the precarious hospital lunches, I always came across some primary's shade. However, I was continuously bereft of my own color. Black. Why didn't I see anyone like me?

    Nursing Me Black

    It was like I was a needle cap placed among a sea of cotton balls. It just Would I ever connect with nurses that had the same background as me? Is it even possible? Where is my version of florence nightingale? Perhaps I should get connected and join:

    Association of black nurses
    Black nurses society
    Black nurses r us
    Nurses who are black inc.
    You're black? And a nurse? Join us!

    Maybe this was my ticket to finally feel like I 'm among the ranks of professional individuals, to belong even if it is dangerously close to the sidelines. As a nursing student, I always felt like I had to prove myself to my patients and my instructors. Even though I come from the fabulous city of chicago, the majority of black nurses work for the county and therefore I was never in contact with them to be inspired, to feel safe, to find a reason to keep going.

    But I did.

    It was arduous, daunting, and exciting all at the same time, but I steered clear of anything that was a dead giveaway for an excuse. Since I come from a society that is seeping with self-doubt and a "crabs in a bucket" mentality, it wasn't a pretty journey; that's what made it perfect. It feels so rewarding to have little girls run up to me and say that they want to be a nurse now that they've seen someone actually come through the woodwork. It's like I give them hope for something that typically seems so unattainable. They have yet to experience true hardships and challenges, but hopefully I 've shown them that it's all worth it in the end. They just need the passion to overcome any obstacle.

    But you know what I realized?

    It's not about being black and therefore feeling so accomplished about the day's work. It's about being a human being and a nurse. It's about recognizing your own potential before you begin concentrating on the color of your skin. We don't need...

    Association of black nurses
    Black nurses society
    Black nurses r us
    Nurses who are black inc.
    You're black? And a nurse? Join us!

    ...To tell us that we're important. We can only find confidence within ourselves. We have already made great strides towards becoming whatever we want to be and our future looks even brighter.

    Maybe it's best for us all to figuratively remove the rods and cones from our eyes and become colorblind. A white nurse is a black nurse is a hispanic nurse is a filipino nurse is a chinese nurse is an indian nurse. I plan on doing so just to show people how beneficial it is.

    Yes, we may be outnumbered as nurses when it comes to statistics, but I choose to think of us as diamonds; rare and hard to come by!

    Be human. Be beautiful. But most of all, be...lieve.

    Nursethis21, bsn, rn
    Uic alumna
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 29, '16
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    About NurseThis21

    Joined: Jul '09; Posts: 122; Likes: 297
    Nurse Clinician; from US
    Specialty: Adolescent & Adult Psychiatry

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  3. by   P_RN
    What an insightful and lovely post. I am quite impressed with all NURSES with a capital "NURSE".
  4. by   sirI
    Excellent Article, Nursethis21.

    Thank you...
  5. by   aromarn
    Very nice perspective!!
  6. by   nrsgnerd
    I did not grow up in a family that was colorblind but early into my adulthood I soon learned that people are people. I had all sorts of misconceptions, false beliefs told to me by family and when you get to a certain age you realize that so many things you were taught are just simply false. You learn this by life experience and by developing your own perception of the world around you and the people in it. At our core, we are all the same. We need, love, support, grieve, get mad, sad, happy, get sick, get tired and need affection. One of the reasons I love nursing is becasue it reinforces to me that we are all the same at our core. We may have differences in our belief systems personally but our goal is common when we work and that is to take care of the patient to the best of our ability. I am proud to live in a multi-cultural society and look forward to a time where the places we come from just don't matter because we are all here together now no matter how we got here. I feel its ok to look back at where we came from, IF, we learn from it and keep moving forward. We can't change yesterday but we can change tomorrow. Thanks for provoking some thought, loved your post!
  7. by   SuesquatchRN
    I hope you meet a color blind world.

  8. by   secretsy
    Hello to "Nursing Me Black" I am pleased to meet your acquaintance. I am A female of African American heritage who happens to hold a BSN in nursing. I can not express to you the hard ship that I have been through over the years as a nurse. I have been forced to resign my first year as a RN due to being taught by other nurses all the wrong ways of doing clinical procedures. I have had another facility suspend me for being a patient advocate which is what I was taught to do. I have had a facility try to steal my license from me intentionally by having one of their staff members steal narcotics from my med cart prior to me coming on shift. I have a pending legal matter with this particular facility. Overall, I have had a lack of acceptance period in the years of nursing and had to work harder at it and prove myself qualified for the job by my knowledge base and job performance. I just find that when they see the RN status I am not liked because I went to school a little longer than most. Why... I say to myself the hatred? Not only that, as you stated earlier you look around and you find yourself a minority. The truth is I have seen this to be the case. I have even tried to research where are African American Nurses residing in America and whether they are content or not? I found that most minority nurses are predominantly in southern states. I said that may be my next move. More than anything I believe nurses in general should be unionized because there are so many avenues that an employer can use to let you go in this field of work. Dont you agree?
    Last edit by secretsy on Sep 1, '09
  9. by   NurseThis21
    Quote from secretsy
    Hello to "Nursing Me Black" I am pleased to meet your acquaintance. I am A female of African American heritage who happens to hold a BSN in nursing. I can not express to you the hard ship that I have been through over the years as a nurse...More than anything I believe nurses in general should be unionized because there are so many ways that an employer can use to let you go in this field of work. Dont you agree?
    Thank you so much for your input and welcome to AllNurses!

    First off, I'm so sorry you had to experience such ignorance and deceitful play. It's a shame that people will do practically anything to break one's spirit. I've actually never experienced anything close to racism or discrimination and I'd like to keep it that way. According to my peers, I apparently pass the "brown paper bag" test, as ignorant as that may sound, but now that I look back on my clinical days I can see the subtle differences in the way I was treated as opposed to my obvious African classmates. It's the subtlety of it all that makes me cringe.

    I completely agree with your statement to have a nurses' union. We're 2.9 million strong and yet, we're so widely spread out, staggered, and not too keen on "togetherness" at all. It's like we have our own agenda, whether it be to try and make more money, backstab a fellow co-worker, abuse patient medication, gossip, etc. And the black nursing community is so tiny that we're vulnerable by default. The few black nurses that I have come across seem content in their positions, but I always sense a hint of resentment in their voice. I don't know what it comes from, but I hope to find out and put an end to it.

    I really want to figure out why nurses can't band together and appreciate each others' uniqueness along with our talents? Heck, boy/girl scouts can and all they do is sell cookies and prance around through the forest to obtain badges!!!! We already have our badges; let's act like grown-ups and use them wisely! I honestly hope that I can change some of this icky status quo, whether it's through changing the media's interpretation of nurses (especially balck nurses), writing, politics, administration, etc. I want to do something big so that I can wake everyone up from this nightmare and expose the error of our ways. It may take years, but I'm willing to wait if there's guaranteed change. I may sound naive since I'm only 23, but from my experience, it's naivete that breaks boundaries, opens minds, and restructures the ordinary.

    It's a daring journey, but an exciting one, and I hope that you and I both will be here to see the transformation take place in the healthcare system and society in general. We all need to work on ourselves first before we can abe to save lives.

    NurseThis21, BSN, RN
    UIC Alumna
  10. by   athomas007
    Thanks for the inspiration!
  11. by   wife&mommyRN

    This was very beautiful and I am very happy you spoke of these issues in such dynamic poetic words.
  12. by   amccall4
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I like the statement that you said about us working on ourselves first, before being able to save others. This is so true b/c our characteristics help to shape who we are and the way we care for others. I believe that if we do not tend to the inadequacies that we ourselves may carry, it may hinder us as nurses to share the compassionate and unconditional care that our patients so desperately need....Again, great post! God bless...
  13. by   lperkrn
    Thank you for this thoughtful post. I hope, too, for a colorblind world.
  14. by   cjrn8210
    Hello Nursing Me Black......I am a black nurse and have been one for 35yrs. Nursing is hard and racism makes it harder. The last hospital I worked at went to mandatory color coding for staff..nurses could wear blue or white. Supposedly this was for the patient's to be able to recognize who was who. I can't tell you how many times I was asked " are you the lab, respiratory, dietary even environmental" and these were not the patients, they were other nurses. I had to ask them what color do I have on, duh. There are some "white" people who do not want to think that you could possibly be on their level and the majority of these people couldn't nurse their way out of a wet paper bag. Especially those that have never worked anywhere but in one hopsital. I have skills on top of skills, but I have ALWAYS had to prove myself. So, don't become color blind look at nursing with all eyes open- after all it's the patients that count and when someone is REALLY sick they don't care what color YOU are, all they want is for you to make them feel better. I can count on one hand the times that I have been rejected by a patient because I was black. We are here in full force and have always been here, we were nurses to the master and his family during slavery. Nursing is a rewarding profession and I would'nt be anything else!:heartbeat