Racism in the workplace

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jadelpn, LPN, EMT-B

9 Articles; 4,800 Posts

I would stop, look the person in the eye, and state "I am SURE you don't want anyone to misread your communication, and I really have no idea what you are referring to" and go about your day.

On my first night at a LTC, a woman who was known to be hostile, screamed at me that "You don't speak English". I calmly said to her that "I am speaking English right now and you seem to understand what I'm saying". She continued with hostile comments about my race (I am not caucasian) and my response was always, "I'm sorry you feel that way" (which I really was...for if she felt more positively, I wouldn't have to stand there and listen to this!)

Anyway, fast-forward 10 minutes and she was having difficulty locating her lip balm and lotion. I found both (the lotion was expensive) and applied the lip balm for her. She never had a complaint about my race or "English" again!

This woman seemed to just be anxious about being a new admit.

At least at this facility, it has been rare occasion that I've encountered a resident who says racist words toward me.

ETA: A resident's racist attitude is not about me, but him or her.

MatrixRn

448 Posts

Specializes in Management, Med/Surg, Clinical Trainer.

I am Irish and have very pale skin. I have heard comments such as 'why are you so white.'

But my favorite is "You are too white, why don't you get a tan?" and I have had this question at least 3-4 times.

To this question i say:

Me: "I do not tan I burn. Do you burn?"

Reply: "I do not burn I have dark skin."

Me: "My brother has dark skin and he burns."

By that time they have given up being racist and rude and we move on.

MatrixRn

448 Posts

Specializes in Management, Med/Surg, Clinical Trainer.
I appreciate your input! Years ago a patient told me that "my kind" is only good on "wiping butts" and I should "go back to where I came from". She was in her 80's and very rude and sarcastic.

This kind of comment can come from any race or person directed to anyone. It is not an exclusive insult.

MatrixRn

448 Posts

Specializes in Management, Med/Surg, Clinical Trainer.
imintrouble: you have a good point and we can only wish that we can all stand for ourselves without getting reprimanded. One time I have to say something to a patient who threw the coffee lid at me because he was tired of liquid diet and I got the blame for it since I brought him his breakfast tray. I step out for a couple of minutes and came in and just plain told him that it's only the beginning of the shift and I will be taking care of him for the next 11 more hours. I did not appreciate what he did and we'll discuss with his Physician his diet when he does his rounding. I then give him my supervisor direct phone number if he has other issues whether with his care, diet, or with me or other staff member. The patient never did apologize but everyone was happy including the night staff because he did some sort of thing to each of them. He was pleasant the rest of his stay since then.

I am not sure how this is racist. He was on a liquid diet and he was upset. Period. It happens it is not racist. It is frustrating for patients.

Specializes in ICU.

I tell them that holding on to all of that hate is terrible for their health.

What's worse is when you have co-workers who actually defend their behavior..."Oh, they come from a different time. It was okay back then." It should not have been okay then and it certainly isn't okay now. Seeing as how I have to work to survive, I shouldn't have to got to work and be subjected to derogatory treatment based on something I have absolutely no control over. Nor should anyone else.

Another one that works with the older ones is this: "I would say something nasty in return, but my parents raised me better than that." Get's 'em every time.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

102 Articles; 27,612 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
metal_m0nk said:
What's worse is when you have co-workers who actually defend their behavior..."Oh, they come from a different time. It was okay back then." It should not have been okay then and it certainly isn't okay now. Seeing as how I have to work to survive, I shouldn't have to got to work and be subjected to derogatory treatment based on something I have absolutely no control over. Nor should anyone else.

Agreed. The hospital where I work currently has an elderly patient who is refusing care from all black nursing staff members.

Here's the problem: accomodating this request will be impossible all the time, especially on night shift, where every single nurse and tech in the small hospital will be black on some evenings. On nights when we have all-black staff, she'll either have to deal with her racial prejudice or find another facility with a more homogenous group of nurses and techs.

RNGriffin

375 Posts

Specializes in Neuro ICU/Trauma/Emergency.
TheCommuter said:
Agreed. The hospital where I work currently has an elderly patient who is refusing care from all black nursing staff members.

Here's the problem: accomodating this request will be impossible all the time, especially on night shift, where every single nurse and tech in the small hospital will be black on some evenings. On nights when we have all-black staff, she'll either have to deal with her racial prejudice or find another facility with a more homogenous group of nurses and techs.

Unless she moved to Australia, where it's very rare to see African Americans, she will have to deal with the "black" nurses. If your hospital is making this accommodation, they're in for a rude awakening when one of those black nurses file a lawsuit. I don't entertain prejudice nor disrespect of anyone regardless of name, title, color, sexual orientation. If you don't like someone because of their personality, understood. But, I will not respect request to change nurses due to "she's black"

T-Bird78

1,007 Posts

Had a pt this week with horribly offensive tattoos. Pt was polite but the tattoo that I saw made me so mad. It was a certain regional flag with a length of rope and a phrase referring to a certain type of "justice". This was a caucasian and my office is predominantly black and Hispanic, so that made me mad. A coworker saw the tattoo on pt's arm that is a symbol associated with Hitler. That tattoo on the arm will be visible to other pts when this pt comes in for a shot. How can I address that issue when our other pts are offended by such a huge symbol of hate staring them in the face?

Ruby Vee, BSN

17 Articles; 14,027 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.
T-Bird78 said:
Had a pt this week with horribly offensive tattoos. Pt was polite but the tattoo that I saw made me so mad. It was a certain regional flag with a length of rope and a phrase referring to a certain type of "justice". This was a caucasian and my office is predominantly black and Hispanic, so that made me mad. A coworker saw the tattoo on pt's arm that is a symbol associated with Hitler. That tattoo on the arm will be visible to other pts when this pt comes in for a shot. How can I address that issue when our other pts are offended by such a huge symbol of hate staring them in the face?

The other patients surely realize that the symbol of hate they see on the arm of another patient does not represent the views of your clinic.

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