Racism in the workplace - page 14

Not to be a downer or anything but I have noticed some harsh things said about patients and sometimes even co workers in my unit when they think no one else can hear them. Has anyone else dealt with... Read More

  1. by   writrix
    There are three major phenotypes (sub-types) of humans: Caucasian, African, Asian.

    This comment -- no offense intended -- is just not true. These categories are false, and come from the 19th century or even before that. Where do Native Americans come in? Middle Easterners -- both Arab and non-Arab? What about people from India -- alone, probably the most diverse continent in the world?

    Get these categories out of your head. "Race" doesn't even exist except for what society creates.

    As for the PC / non-PC debate -- please, let's just drop that term, and focus on how we treat other people. If we are censoring ourselves, then we need to take a good honest look at why. Why is it so hard to be respectful in how we speak to and about others -- regardless of what we think?
  2. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from writrix
    There are three major phenotypes (sub-types) of humans: Caucasian, African, Asian.

    This comment -- no offense intended -- is just not true. These categories are false, and come from the 19th century or even before that. Where do Native Americans come in? Middle Easterners -- both Arab and non-Arab? What about people from India -- alone, probably the most diverse continent in the world?

    Get these categories out of your head. "Race" doesn't even exist except for what society creates.

    As for the PC / non-PC debate -- please, let's just drop that term, and focus on how we treat other people. If we are censoring ourselves, then we need to take a good honest look at why. Why is it so hard to be respectful in how we speak to and about others -- regardless of what we think?
    You are confusing biological distinctions from cultural. You state, what about other races? Well, what about purple? It's not a 'primary' color. But, the fact that it exists doesn't refute the existence of primary colors.

    I was pointing out that genetic isolation is a key component of biological diversity, and the fact that, because we are a much more mobile world, we've lost the genetic isolation that maintains biological phenotypes. You point out where just such losses in genetic isolation (due to war, migration, etc.) have created the genetic diversity of 'blended' sub-phenotypes over the years as proof that phenotypes don't exist.

    In reality, the concept of human phenotype IS more complex. But, the point wasn't to create an indepth biology discussion. Substitute 'genetic diversity' and the point carries through. Genetic diversity requires genetic isolation.

    For example, under Jim Crow, if you had even of small percentage of 'black' blood in you, that meant you were 'black' for Jim Crow purposes. Some States put that at the 'one drop' rule, but some at say, 1/8th. The problem: lack of genetic isolation completely eliminates the possibility of enforcing a 'one drop' rule, or even a 1/8th rule. The percentage of actual population affected by Jim Crow, under a strict interpretation of the law, would have been the majority.

    Or look at the concept of race today on a myriad of 'official' forms: If I say that I'm 'black' on one of those forms, how would you prove I'm not? In fact, in those circumstances, you are probably more on point: it is what we decide it to be. But 'race' for official purposes IS more of a cultural distinction in a society that isn't rigidly isolated genetically. It has to be, for how would you challenge it?

    For me, on official forms, for 'race', I check other and write in: American. I have for years.

    OR, I like this: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_049.html

    "For 40 years the only response I have ever given to questions on my race put to me by anyone under any circumstances has been human. There are no other races.

    Back in 1959, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (or whatever it was called back then) sent me a questionnaire for renewal of my driver's license. In response to a question on race, I answered "human." They returned the form to me on the ground that I had provided an improper or unacceptable answer to the question.

    I wrote back saying I was not about to be instructed on scientific matters by a bunch of two-bit bureaucrats; that I had given the only legitimate answer to the question; that they were suborning perjury by pressuring me to provide any other answer on an official government form.

    They issued the license with a conventional racial designation on it. I erased the designation (licenses were then on heavy paper, not encased in plastic as now), and wrote them saying I had done so on the ground that I would not permit an official document relating to me to bear false information.

    They wrote back telling me that altering an official document made me subject to criminal prosecution with a possible $300 fine and 10 days in jail.

    I wrote back and said, "I dare you." pointing out that the trial would be latched on to by the then-emergent civil rights struggle and could cause the department considerable embarrassment. Nothing further ensued, and a few years later they redesigned the whole license, deleting any references to race and introducing picture driver's licenses.

    Recently a retired D.C. official involved in these matters said in an interview that "only four or five" people had objected to racial designation. I am proud to have been one of them. After a respite of some years from racial questions they have again become widespread, ostensibly for the acquisition of demographic data. I continue to advise that such questions be answered "human." I strongly believe that if everyone were to respond in this fashion to questions on race, ours would be a far happier society. --Franklin E. Kameny, Washington, D.C."

    This is more like what you mean, no? But, he specifically points out that he was making a personal statement, even pointing out to them the political implications of their bone-headedness for challenging it. I admire it. And I agree with YOUR sentiment as well, but that doesn't mean that I was off point. Because, in fact, I was making a DIFFERENT point. And, the implications of THAT point dovetails yours: without genetic isolation, race is subjective.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Aug 28, '06
  3. by   RNCRNA2BE
    Quote from Mave
    I was doing my OR rotation last semester and what I heard made me cringe. We had a patient who was getting a particular procedure done, and because of his skin color, though it was rather subtly that they said it, a comment was made. "You would think that someone like him would be differently endowed." That's a direct quote. I knew what they were talking about, and the only person I saw who didn't laugh was the Hispanic rotating nurse. Everyone else laughed. It's unacceptable.
    Student nurses for sure!!! One thing learned as a nurse, is that that myth is FALSE!!!!
  4. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from writrix
    Get these categories out of your head. "Race" doesn't even exist except for what society creates.
    http://partners.nytimes.com/library/...tics-race.html

    Genotype: The genetic makeup, as distinguished from the physical appearance, of an organism or a group of organisms.

    Phenotype: The observable physical or biochemical characteristics of an organism, as determined by both genetic makeup and environmental influences.

    I agree with you that there is very little genotypical differences in humans. Not enough to truly say there are any races.

    But, there ARE phenotypical differences. And that is why I used the specific word that biologically corresponds to observable differences: phenotypes.

    I was really making a minor biological point that played into a bigger cultural point, much along the lines of your comments. Race IS subjective. And that is due to a loss of genetic isolation (read: geographical isolation - humans, like all other creatures, when placed in proximity - breed. I'm not talking about anti-miscegenation - laws or cultural taboos against interracial 'mixing'. Such rules are simply ineffective to stem biological imperatives.)

    From the link above:

    Dr. Eric S. Lander, a genome expert at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass: "There's no scientific evidence to support substantial differences between groups," he said, "and the tremendous burden of proof goes to anyone who wants to assert those differences."

    "Race" IS primarily a cultural distinction. But, that does not mean that such distinctions aren't powerful. Indeed, centuries of cultural legacies can have a profound impact on a society. Witness, OUR society. It's the nature/nurture argument. We are a makeup of both.

    On the other hand, there is no 'nature' argument against being culturally 'color-blind'. Genetically, we are all first cousins. So, whatever cultural legacies that we've created: we CAN un-create them. It's just a matter of how much effort and force of will we choose to devote to the process.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Aug 28, '06
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    "Genetically, we are all first cousins".


    I really like that quote.

    I also don't fill out the "race" question. Just leave it blank. But maybe "human" is a good idea.

    steph
  6. by   Roy Fokker
    Till this day, I ahve never chosen to fill out the demographic on race.
    I generally fill in the age, sometimes the gender.
    But never the race.

    Besides, I'm not entierly sure WHAT I am

    A few personal observations:
    * 'White'/'Black' etc. is not a racial or genetic description, it's just an accident of skin pigmentation. A bloke in Iceland is not the 'white brother' of a (white) guy from Birmingham - sure, they may share certain attributes, common language and history, but equally he might not.

    * I don't particularly want to be judged by my skin colour as 'one of us', or conversely 'one of them'



    No, as far as I’m concerned you can keep your 'white pride', 'black pride' etc. You get no choice as to the background and race you're born into.

    There is not much in the ways of hard scientific evidence for "race" - race is puerly cultural and/or social. The definition of "race" in western scientific circles has always evolved from the concept of "What does he look like". Some folks say "you know an African when you see one". Okay, does that mean you can tell a Hausa from a Yoruba if they are dressed the same? Can you tell a Berber from an Arab in Algeria, strictly on sight?

    Africans are not a "race". "White persons" are not a "race". As I asked before, what exactly are the similiarities between an Icelander and a guy from Alabama? My problem with people who indulge in attempting to classify humans by raceis that they usually have no concept to work with beyond "They look different" when they make up the classification.

    But like languages, Humans are living things and their physical features, genetic make-up and linguistic differences are things that change with each generation. To attempt to classify them according to the utterly simplistic eighteenth century concepts of "Black, White or Yellow" is totally nonsensical.


    Most people around the world are a mixed bunch - several thousands of years of intermarriage, pillage and one-night stands (drunken or otherwise) have led to very few 'pure' societies. And from an evolutionary PoV, this is great news


    Wow! Sorry for the babble... :imbar
    Last edit by Roy Fokker on Aug 28, '06
  7. by   WindyhillBSN
    Quote from TriageRN_34
    This happens in any workplace...heck remember all this in school? For some reason that stuff sticks...and does carry on to adulthood, some places more than others, and some people more than others. Sadly a fact of life, and one we should all work on in ourselves to stop.

    I have encountered it many times on different levels, from subtile facial expressions to full out phrases that make my skin crawl.

    How I deal with it...I simply stop it all on my end, because I am responsible for my own actions not anyone elses...so best thing...stop it on my end and therefore it stops yet another stem on the grapevine !

    I don't tend to make stands on it because that just leads to trouble and really doesn't change much, however...I will switch the situation using effective listening and proactive and thoughful responses to quell the convo to a stopping point.

    I remember one situation where some Doctors were getting all frustrated and down on a patient who had a personality disorder...like that person could help it, especially being ill in a hospital! Nurses started to chime in...and I simply said, "Hey have you guys ever thought of patients saying things about us? I bet they have quite some interesting if not down right awful things to say about us to their friends and family behind closed doors? Sometimes I would like to be a fly on the wall...bet that would be an eye opening experience!". That switched the convo on THINKING about the patient's perspective about us, and not just dissing the patient!!!!!! Its a start in a more positive direction...not fully positive, but a start to thinking about it and not just running at the mouth!

    Another time, an elderly resident of mine grabbed my arm so tight as I was passing her in the hallway after a caregiver who happened to be black passed her. She said to me "Is that a N---- (horrid word!!!!)!!!!". I looked her straight in the eye and simply said 'YES'. and pulled her hand off me and walked away! I think that simple phrase showed two things...one, I wasn't going there!!! And two...to get over herself! It worked...I never had another probelm with residents ever again about different races at work (word must have gotten out not to go there!).

    Although I know you meant nothing by it, I still can't believe you said 'YES'. I especially can't believe you told US you did.:uhoh21:
  8. by   Roy Fokker
    I'm quoting a post by a friend of mine - a person I admire. He's a lawyer and ameteur historian from New Jersey.

    A few years ago, we were discussing race on a military history forum. That's actually where we became first aquainted. Out of respect for his privacy, I'm including only his initials.

    Quote from DCC
    A little Historical Perspective here.

    What are now considered "African-Americans" or "Black People" are actually the descendants of Yoruba, Ibo, Ashanti, Mandinka, Hausa and a couple of dozen other distinct ethnic groups. I would imagine that, had our cultural heritage escaped destruction, then there would be no need whatsoever for the catch-all phrase "African-Americans.

    I've noticed that modern day African immigrants and their children nearly always refer to thenselve as either being from a country or an ethnic group-- "I am Senegalese" or "I am Wolof".

    The entire concept of being "Black" only exists in relationship to those who claim to be White. That is the nature of America and its rather tawdry history of racial relations.

    Secondly, the African heritage stripped from my people has never been satisfactorily replaced by a word that gained universal acceptance within our community.

    Less than fifty years ago, the term "Black" as applied to one of my ethnic heritage was considered an insult!

    It was one of the revolutionary aspects of the sixties and the international "Black Identity" movement that removed the stigma from the word "Black" and caused its acceptance as a non-derogatory term among both Africans in Africa and Africans in America.
  9. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from ZASHAGALKA
    She is talking about the divergence, in the wake of Malcolm X's assassination, away from the goal of integration. Oh, to be sure, the seeds of such divergence were already there, but Malcolm's assassination germinated them - and Stokely Carmichael fertilized them into full bloom.

    Instead of MLK's "We shall overcome", Carmichael would chant, "We shall Over-run". And Charmichael's contemporaries routinely referred to MLK as "Martin Loser King".

    In many ways, MLK's dream was so compelling BECAUSE it was aimed not just at blacks, but at the white community as well. Carmichael and his leaders were not interested in a message that played to the white community. 'Black Power' was not just an implied, but an overt threat. Anger was the only coin that mattered.

    It is surely no surprise that MLK day is on the books, and Malcolm X day isn't. Don't take me wrong, but that itself has racial overtones. Which viewpoint was adopted, and which was ignored by the greater masses?

    But, can you not see the divergence in attitude in our society today between MLK and those that followed in the wake of Malcolm X's assassination? For many blacks, integration IS STILL the goal, many achieving high levels of success as a result. But, we have a whole subculture that operates on the assumption that society itself is the enemy.

    The question becomes, whose society is it? Is it the 'white man's' society, where integration is betrayal? Or an inclusive society, where integration is success? This is, in fact, where we stand today, unresolved in viewpoints that fundamentally contradict each other.

    The result is that we have two societies - in self-segregation, where crossover is surely possible, but not inherently valued by all.

    The concept of integration was this: if you intermix cultures, you end up with a dominant culture that is changed from both ends. That requires not just access to each other, but a constant confluence of mutual interests.

    Is there racism in the workplace today? Of course. What do you expect, when we live in parrallel cultures? Without a confluence of mutual interests, any forced mixing yields to the misintepretation of two separate cultures, speaking past each other. That isn't always the case, there are bridges and more and more we DO link together. But we don't enough, or, enough of us don't, that it can't but lead to conflict.

    And, both sides bear some blame. Shoot, we can't even TALK about race without a radical alarm for the fallout sure to occur. No doubt this is one of the most highly watched threads by the moderators for JUST THAT REASON.

    The result: all we've learned in the last 40 yrs is to tune out and to merely tolerate the situations where that isn't exactly possible.

    In fact, isn't that our very creed today? Not full integration, but mere 'tolerance'. The longer we 'tolerate' racial relations as they exist today, the longer our current apathy endures.

    'Tolerance' is the problem. Not because it's not a fine goal. But, because it isn't enough.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.

    Now Timothy, if you're going to tell the story, tell it right.


    The truth is that Stokely Carmichael and MLK worked together for years. Years. They in fact, had the same goals and aspirations for the Black community. They differed in how to achieve those goals. You left out the fact that Stokely Carmichael did not make his Black power speech until after he had been arrested over 25 times while participating in nonviolent marches with Dr. King , the last time after James Meredith was shot on his solo march across Mississippi. It's very disingenous of you to try to portray Carmichael as angry just for the sake of it. You didn't quote the whole book but I don't think that you and that author understood that part of the reasoning behind Dr. King's strategy was that Whites would be threatened by any aggressive stance which demanded our civil rights. Terms like "Black power" scared White Southerners to death and would only result in a backlash and he knew it. But Stokely Carmichael decided he wasn't going to go the way of James Meredith and countless others who had been gunned down and beaten by cowards. In his eyes, white appeasement was not working and Blacks had a right and a duty to defend themselves.

    Black power was NOT a threat, but I'm not surprised you would choose to characterize it as so. Black power merely referred to economic, social and political empowerment among Blacks. it was about self pride and self-reliance. It merely meant that we should not depend on the benevolence of Whites to "save us". And I guarantee you that MLK agreed with that.
  10. by   staygold
    Race is no accident.Look into the history of Africa it will tell you about what happend to the first few tribes that left and why different skin colors started to arise eventually. A lot had to do with diet and the nitrients people get from the sun.An american wrote a book on it actually.I'll find the link and post it later if anyone cares.But I know its something not widely taught in this country.
    (just another point of view)

    On a more serious note I would like to say thank you to EVERYONE that has posted on this thread!In the short time that this thread has been going on I have learned a lot!I tranfered to a different hospital in my medical system and today was my first day and I owe this to ALL of you.Thank you so much
    Last edit by staygold on Aug 28, '06
  11. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from SharonH, RN
    Now Timothy, if you're going to tell the story, tell it right.


    The truth is that Stokely Carmichael and MLK worked together for years. Years. They in fact, had the same goals and aspirations for the Black community. They differed in how to achieve those goals. You left out the fact that Stokely Carmichael did not make his Black power speech until after he had been arrested over 25 times while participating in nonviolent marches with Dr. King , the last time after James Meredith was shot on his solo march across Mississippi. It's very disingenous of you to try to portray Carmichael as angry just for the sake of it. You didn't quote the whole book but I don't think that you and that author understood that part of the reasoning behind Dr. King's strategy was that Whites would be threatened by any aggressive stance which demanded our civil rights. Terms like "Black power" scared White Southerners to death and would only result in a backlash and he knew it. But Stokely Carmichael decided he wasn't going to go the way of James Meredith and countless others who had been gunned down and beaten by cowards. In his eyes, white appeasement was not working and Blacks had a right and a duty to defend themselves.

    Black power was NOT a threat, but I'm not surprised you would choose to characterize it as so. Black power merely referred to economic, social and political empowerment among Blacks. it was about self pride and self-reliance. It merely meant that we should not depend on the benevolence of Whites to "save us". And I guarantee you that MLK agreed with that.
    I humbly disagree. Stokely Carmichael became a pan-Africanist and advocated for complete and voluntary exclusion of blacks from society.

    MLK advocated in just the OPPOSITE direction: complete INCLUSION for blacks.

    Two very different goals.

    'Black power' was intended to be an implied threat, expressed in terms of an overt threat - and MLK was justly concerned about its impact. 'We shall over-run' was not merely a call to self-empowerment: it WAS a threat. I submit the Charmichael wasn't fomenting anger 'for the sake of it'; it was well founded and already at play. Carmichael simply capitalized on it. And while Carmichael did refer to empowerment, he did so in terms of separation - at any cost.

    I will submit that Carmichael was seeking empowerment. But the empowerment he advocated came from separating from society. He argued that blacks could only be empowered within their own communities. And, that was exclusive. Carmichael argued that the whites in power had never offered a fair deal, never WOULD offer one, and even trying to live in such a system was not only defeatist, it was a betrayal.

    And while I might agree that his pleas to anger were largely rhetorical: that rhetoric purposely served to alienate his followers from whites specifically, and from any concept of 'integration' generally. The goal wasn't a fullscale assault on 'white society' but rather, a full scale alienation from it.

    Carmichael and his followers had fairly well routed the earlier integrationist institutions and leaders by 1966. And they openly mocked them, calling them the 'little girls club' and calling MLK 'Martin Loser King'.

    MLK had no choice but to work with Carmichael: Carmichael had the fire of the movement and the ear of a growingly restless people. MLK wanted to keep a voice at the table for integration. As far as Carmichael marching w/ MLK 25 times before the Meredith March: maybe so, but UNTIL that march, and his BLACK POWER speech, Carmichael was a only a regional figure from NY, and a relatively new one at that. To the extent he HAD marched w/ MLK, it was as a follower. The Meredith March was Carmichael's coming out as a movement leader. So, up to the Meredith March, Carmichael had little choice but to go along w/ the leaders of the movement and that included MLK. From that point on, MLK had little choice but to go along with the leaders of the movement, and THAT included Carmichael.

    But don't mistake that to mean that they had the same goals. They did not. MLK hitched his dream to integration. Carmichael openly scoffed at and repudiated such dreams.

    And the divergence of those goals are seen in our society, where blacks in our society are forced to choose: integration or exclusion, success or betrayal. And that choice, with its inherent contradictory loyalties, comes with a high emotional and mental cost.

    Far too many still live by Carmichael's creed: that 'success' in the white man's world is no success at all. That excelling in academic routes is caving in to 'the man'. There is a price to be paid for 'separate at any cost'.

    That price is too high. For all of us.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Aug 29, '06
  12. by   staygold
    It was one of the revolutionary aspects of the sixties and the international "Black Identity" movement that removed the stigma from the word "Black" and caused its acceptance as a non-derogatory term among both Africans in Africa and Africans in America
    Not to get off subject or anything but as an African born in Africa I can tell you that a LARGE number of Africans really don't like to be called black.Also a lot of us don't like the fact that Africans in America not born in Africa call themselves African American.Personally when I was a teenager it bothers me a little sometimes but I'm learning and staying open minded. But don't be surprised if you refer to an African as black and they get upset or indignant.
    Last edit by Roy Fokker on Aug 28, '06 : Reason: Fixed QUOTE tags
  13. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from staygold
    It was one of the revolutionary aspects of the sixties and the international "Black Identity" movement that removed the stigma from the word "Black" and caused its acceptance as a non-derogatory term among both Africans in Africa and Africans in America

    Not to get off subject or anything but as an African born in Africa I can tell you that a LARGE number of Africans really don't like to be called black.Also a lot of us don't like the fact that Africans in America not born in Africa call themselves African American.Personally when I was a teenager it bothers me a little sometimes but I'm learning and staying open minded. But don't be surprised if you refer to an African as black and they get upset or indignant.
    I remember seeing an American news reporter on location in London, asking people on the street questions. I don't remember the context, but the white American reporter asked a British black man something, and asked for his opinion as an "African American." I recall the British gentleman looking at the American reporter like he was the stupidest person on the planet. I suppose at that minute he was. Does anyone remember this?

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