Accused of being racist - how to handle? - page 2

In caring for an African American child this morning, her father accused me of being both "racist" and "uppity." Apparently, while I was tending to his child, he asked me repeatedly how to make a... Read More

  1. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from Irishgirl
    Why does it always come down to racism? People automatically assume that's what the deal is. Can't we all just chill out?
    Why? Because of training and their own prejudice. Chill out? Sure, if ALL the people will decide and choose to do that.
  2. by   firstyearstudent
    I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this guy was being manipulative or playing the "race card." Perhaps he was dealing with his own anxieties. His newborn baby was in the arms of a stranger and many African-Americans are VERY paranoid about the health care establishment. And when you look at the history and the statistics, it's easy to see why they may feel that way. ALWAYS give people the benefit of the doubt and address their concerns honestly. I don't know how many times I've found out I was wrong in my initial assessment of a situation. And, frankly, I'd rather be suckered than to dismiss someone with genuine concerns.

    I would straight up tell this guy that you heard what he was saying the other day and you'd like to explore why he felt you were being racist because you really want to give quality care to people of all races. Being open to hearing him as opposed to defensive should change the dynamic, whether he is being manipulative or not. If he has something useful to tell you, you might learn from it. If he doesn't you might try to explore his feelings further to find out where he's coming from. Then you could ask him if he feels he can work with you or should you get another nurse.
    Last edit by firstyearstudent on May 25, '07
  3. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from Susan9608
    In caring for an African American child this morning, her father accused me of being both "racist" and "uppity." Apparently, while I was tending to his child, he asked me repeatedly how to make a long-distance phone call with a calling card. I gave him the instructions as I know them, but apparently he was still unable to place this call. His child was de-satting at the time, and had blood coming from the incisions in her mouth and secretions pouring from her trach. His phone call was not at the top of my priority list.

    So he asked me if "you have something against black people or something." I guess because I was tending to his child and not helping him place his important phone call, I'm now racist.

    I'm having a hard time because a) I feel very insulted and b) I'm supposed to teach him how to care for his child so she can go home today. How receptive to me is he going to be if he thinks I'm racist? And I'm not sure about dealing with my own feelings after being accused of being racist.

    I'm honestly not sure how he got that I'm racist just because I was occupied at the moment and couldn't help him place his phone call. In all honesty, I'm pretty pissed. Any suggestions on how to handle this?
    You must henceforth refuse to care for this child. I mean it, friend. Don't walk, run from this insane man. He will doubtless sue at the drop of a hat and you have a perfect right to completely refuse to put yourself in harm's way.

    Document all of your nursing care meticulously but I think I'd leave out the part about his ignorant and racist remark, as it is not really related to the child's care. Do an incident report, absolutely keep a copy. Get the family's address, full name, etc. so you have this info for future ref, which you will, hopefully, not need. Notify not just your boss but hers as well that this happened and that you will not be caring for this family again. Let them threaten you and cajole you all they want, do not knuckle under. This is extremely serious and you could well find yourself out of a job, out of a license, when this balloons. Hopefully, it will not balloon and this jerk will never even come to the hospital again. But while hoping for the best, you must prepare for a firestorm.

    Can you imagine trying to teach the family anything? If anything goes the slightest bit wrong, they will say it's because you are anti-black. Do not allow your boss to put you into this situation again. I mean it.

    These are perilous times and you must take every precaution. Did he threaten you with violence? People get nuts where their kids are involved. Unfortunately, with the allegation of racism made against a white person, the white must prove otherwise and that is often impossible to do. That won't stop your employer, though, from taking the patient's side, just to stop them from suing the hospital. Believe me, if it comes down to your word against his, you'll be the loser. That is the reality today.

    I know there is a long history of oppression of blacks in our nation but now there is oppression of whites. It is just as wrong as the former condition ever was. If you're like me, your family was not even in America during slave years and Jim Crow years.

    I doubt it but maybe someday race relations will actually normalize.
    Last edit by TrudyRN on May 25, '07
  4. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from CrufflerJJ
    It's hard to deal with this sort of BS, isn't it? I know there is still plenty of racism here in the good ol' USA (on all sides of the color spectrum), but it's frustrating when a person screams "racist" when they are at fault. From my experiences, it's all too often used as an excuse, or a "cop-out" to avoid having to deal with reality.

    Much like discrimination - there are unfortunately people who will whine about being discriminated against for any perceived slight against them. It got so silly years ago when I was supervising a group of 30 employees, that I'd make sure to write up a male and a female for doing the same offense. I'd also try to write up employees in different job classifications for the same offense at the same time. You'd have to go through these hassles to cover your rear-end from the inevitable claims of discrimination. The "standing orders" of my fine union employees seemed to be to claim discrimination & harassment for everything under the sun.

    I don't mean to come across as too harsh, but it's idiots like this guy "crying wolf" who reduce the perceived seriousness of a real claim of discrimination or racism by somebody who truly is being screwed.:angryfire

    Document, document, document. Get your supervisor involved in discussions with this clown before you find yourself having to defend your "racist" actions against this poor "disenfranchised" individual. Documenting things now (and bringing your supervisor into the loop) may waste some of your time, but that's nothing compared to the kaka-storms that roll down hill if/when this gentleman complains to your facility's Customer Relations department.
    I agree with every word. This is how "advanced" our society now is. :trout: :angryfire :uhoh21:
  5. by   vickynurse
    Quote from firstyearstudent
    I
    Being open to hearing him as opposed to defensive should change the dynamic, whether he is being manipulative or not... If he doesn't you might try to explore his feelings further to find out where he's coming from. Then you could ask him if he feels he can work with you or should you get another nurse.
    Nice thoughts, but not realistic. Many people do not realize that being unjustly called a racist feels like being accused of rape, child abuse, or other crime. If you don't like the care I give, complain about the care. But don't drive a stake through my heart with the 'R' word.
  6. by   firstyearstudent
    Quote from vickynurse
    Nice thoughts, but not realistic. Many people do not realize that being unjustly called a racist feels like being accused of rape, child abuse, or other crime. If you don't like the care I give, complain about the care. But don't drive a stake through my heart with the 'R' word.
    Not realistic? I've just finished up doing a psych preceptorship and it's what every nurse did there all day long. About 80% of the population is paranoid. It doesn't help to get defensive. It often does help to ask them why they feel the way they do. It so often defuses a situation by either helping the nurse and patient come to an understanding or allowing the patient to vent.

    Confronting a patient honestly can sometimes help but what never does is for the nurse to get "attitude." And it doesn't help the nurse either. Frankly, I'd rather spent my time trying to help people, and being effective, then fuming and being angry that someone hurt my feelings. These people are under stress. Take what they say seriously but don't take it personally.
    Last edit by firstyearstudent on May 25, '07
  7. by   NoMoreStudying
    It used to bother me. It happens a lot in triage, for one.

    i always bring it back to fact in one short sentence, so we both know it's the end of that discussion. Nothing further needed and no more will be entertained. Works when anyone decides we're "not fair." B/c really, there's no arguing with people so we might as well discuss what's really appropriate. I've had to tell a few people that I won't be discussing anything besides their care from that point forward.

    "My priority is to assist your child at this moment."
    "I need to see the most acute patient first."
    "I was tied up with a complex patient but I will help you shortly."
    "I'm sorry, that person got a chair in the hall b/c they aren't vomiting like you. You would prefer a bed, correct?"
    "No, it's not b/c you're black. It's because you're drunk, sedated from your own drugs and so lethargic from that concussion that you don't need any more pain medication. You need a CT scan."

    I also really enjoy getting called racist or told that I don't give good care to minorities or the poor. B/c a) I'm Asian and b) I grew up dirt poor with intermittent housing and basic needs. It always makes me smile to myself. "You don't know what it's like to have nothing!" I'm sorry, did you come here secured in the bottom of a boat, too?

    Although, I'm always sympathetic unless people are ridiculous. Even then I can get by with some coffee in me.
  8. by   vickynurse
    Quote from firstyearstudent
    ..just finished up doing a psych preceptorship and it's what every nurse did there all day long. About 80% of the population is paranoid. It doesn't help to get defensive. It often does help to ask them why they feel the way they do.
    Absolutely agree with you as applied to a psych setting. The original poster was not in a psych setting.
  9. by   healinghearts84
    hello? didn't we learn to prioritize in nursing school? isn't that what the NCLEX is all about? sounds to me like you definitely had priorities...esp. if the child was bleeding from the mouth and needed to be suction. his phone call could have waited...his comment was uncalled for and very inappropriate. you did the right thing...you weren't being racist at all. it definitely sounds like he was taking his frustration of his sick child out on you. :angryfire
  10. by   firstyearstudent
    Quote from vickynurse
    Absolutely agree with you as applied to a psych setting. The original poster was not in a psych setting.
    Can't see the difference myself. When people are under this kind of stress -- EVERYONE is a psych patient.

    When my mother was sick in the ICU and dying of cancer the whole family was absolutely koo-koo.
  11. by   Cherish
    Quote from firstyearstudent
    Can't see the difference myself. When people are under this kind of stress -- EVERYONE is a psych patient.

    When my mother was sick in the ICU and dying of cancer the whole family was absolutely koo-koo.
    Wow thats new...so every family member who visits the hospital immediately should have a psych consult? Hmmm...
  12. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from TrudyRN
    What he saw was her taking care of his child. That is certainly racist. If she has a lick of sense, she will refuse this child as a patient ever again. Next time, he might "see" her abusing the child.

    Actually, we don't know what he saw; we only have one side of the story. And we certainly don't know what drove him to draw the conclusion he did even if it was erroneous. Making assumptions about his motivations is just as bad as his assumption that the OP was racist. You shouldn't go there.

    The OP has already handled this situation in a satisfactory and professional manner. I think that's the long and short of it.
    Last edit by SharonH, RN on May 25, '07 : Reason: typo
  13. by   I_am_Julia
    where's the documentation that state african american's are parnoid regarding the establishment of health care?


    Quote from firstyearstudent
    i wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this guy was being manipulative or playing the "race card." perhaps he was dealing with his own anxieties. his newborn baby was in the arms of a stranger and many african-americans are very paranoid about the health care establishment. and when you look at the history and the statistics, it's easy to see why they may feel that way. always give people the benefit of the doubt and address their concerns honestly. i don't know how many times i've found out i was wrong in my initial assessment of a situation. and, frankly, i'd rather be suckered than to dismiss someone with genuine concerns.

    i would straight up tell this guy that you heard what he was saying the other day and you'd like to explore why he felt you were being racist because you really want to give quality care to people of all races. being open to hearing him as opposed to defensive should change the dynamic, whether he is being manipulative or not. if he has something useful to tell you, you might learn from it. if he doesn't you might try to explore his feelings further to find out where he's coming from. then you could ask him if he feels he can work with you or should you get another nurse.

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