Racism in the workplace

  1. 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 this?
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  2. 251 Comments

  3. by   NurseLatteDNP
    Yes, I have heard some stuff also. It is not the obvious stuff, but like the little things, when they talk about the 'black patient' or the 'black coworker of their husbands'. That stuff bothers me. I never hear them say 'white patient'.
  4. by   Antikigirl
    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!).
  5. by   zahryia
    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!).
    I know you meant well by that incident, but black people are NOT n-----s. It would have been nice if you just said, 'No, she's black'

    I'm a little wary of running into these situations because I'm not good at holding my tongue to ignorance. So should I be the good nurse who allows this stuff to go on, or do I challenge people at the risk of being called an 'angry black women'.

    It's a fine line that people of color- or anyone who's the subject of ignorance- have to balance in their work lives. And it's draining.
  6. by   staygold
    Quote from zahryia
    I know you meant well by that incident, but black people are NOT n-----s. It would have been nice if you just said, 'No, she's black'

    I'm a little wary of running into these situations because I'm not good at holding my tongue to ignorance. So should I be the good nurse who allows this stuff to go on, or do I challenge people at the risk of being called an 'angry black women'.

    It's a fine line that people of color- or anyone who's the subject of ignorance- have to balance in their work lives. And it's draining.

    I agree with you on that. Although i understand what she meant when she said "YES". Being a young black male I deal with these situations daily outside of the workplace but its very different when its on the job.I'm fairly new to the nursing field and was just seeing how the veterans deal with it on the job.
  7. by   Bala Shark
    You have to realize that a percentage of nurses who post here carry the same view and that they are racist..You cannot change them and it is just a fact of life..
  8. by   MuddaMia
    Quote from Bala Shark
    You have to realize that a percentage of nurses who post here carry the same view and that they are racist..You cannot change them and it is just a fact of life..
    Wow, thats a bit of a defeatist attituide. We MUST believe in change--otherwise we have no hope of evolving.
  9. by   TheCommuter
    I'm a black nurse who lives and works in Texas and, yes, I've seen and felt some subconscious racism at the workplace. My elderly patients have been surprisingly wonderful. As a student I had always expected the elderly patients to be the most prejudiced, but I've been pleasantly surprised so far. Perhaps they've had many more years to learn how to hide it proficiently.

    I've experienced subconscious racism from a small handful of family members as well as several former coworkers.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Aug 24, '06
  10. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from Bala Shark
    You have to realize that a percentage of nurses who post here carry the same view and that they are racist..You cannot change them and it is just a fact of life..
    Unfortunately, Bala Shark, your statement is probably true.
  11. by   sunnyjohn
    If you are younger than 60, I will probably say something to you. I know how to be respectful, even if I don't like you.

    My parents and grandparents marched too long and put up with too much for me to take things for granted.



    OT- The Commuter, I always pictured you a red-haired firebrand in a nurse cap who was smart and didn't take any guff off anyone!!!
    Last edit by sunnyjohn on Aug 24, '06
  12. by   sunnyjohn
    I don't want to change the world, I just want to affect the thinking of that one person...
  13. by   ktwlpn
    There is not one single nurse of color on the day shift with me.So the victims of prejudice are now the openly gay staff members...... I do work with many cna's of different races and there is a small group of them that use their race as a shield from any type of criticism .No matter how lousy their job performance you are "picking" on them when you attempt to give them direction.Most of the real trouble makers are Middle eastern or African. I also have seen alot of prejudice against obese people over the years-patients and co-workers....
  14. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from sunnyjohn
    OT- The Commuter, I always pictured you a red-haired firebrand in a nurse cap who was smart and didn't take any guff off anyone!!!
    You made me laugh! :chuckle

    But, seriously, anonymity is the true beauty of the world wide web.

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