U.S. Nursing Responds to African-American Anguish
During all the months of this COVID19 pandemic, nurses have been at the forefront of the response; now they are speaking out for social justice and equality as our country faces yet another crisis. This month ATHNA shares two important messages with its members and travel health nurses everywhere.
The first is a letter written by the current Dean of the Columbia University School of Nursing, Lorraine Frazier, RN, PhD, FAAN to a member of our Board who is a Columbia alum:
"Nursing is, at its core, about caring. It's about social justice and health equity. I felt compelled to share the following message with all of Columbia Nursing's students, faculty and staff -- and want to share this now with you, a valued member of the Columbia Nursing community, as well.
It is inherent in nurses, no matter the color of our skin, to be outraged about the injustice, pain, and anguish that African American communities have experienced and are experiencing. Our country has for far too long been torn apart by racismin its overt and violent forms as well as, just as surely and insidiously, in its subtle and unintended forms.
The senseless killings of unarmed African Americans including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor must end. It is long past time to redress our society's enormous, systemic wrongs toward people of color. We must ensure that heinous acts like the one last week never occur again.
In addition, to have such an act occur in the midst of a pandemic that is taking a disproportionate toll on communities of color in this countryto have the insults compound each othermakes the accumulated injuries nearly unbearable. Racism is a public health threat that we must and can counter at every opportunity.
All of you receiving this message have chosen nursingor the support of nursingas your life's work. It thus falls to each and every one of us to help heal these injuries. To care. To treat every person with dignity and respect, no matter their race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, mental health, or cognitive, sensory, or physical disabilities. Everyone. Without fail.
I pledge that Columbia Nursing, as an institution and as an aggregation of individuals, will continue to stand definitively and vociferously against slights and insults large and small toward people of color. And we will do our very best to push society at large toward doing better than it has done.
As nurses, we can do nothing less."
The second was a press release by the President of the American Nurses Association: ANA President Condemns Racism, Brutality and Senseless Violence Against Black Communities
June 1st 2020
SILVER SPRING, MD - The following statement is attributable to American Nurses Association (ANA) President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN:
"As a nation, we have witnessed yet again an act of incomprehensible racism and police brutality, leading to the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd. This follows other recent unjustified killings of black men and women, such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor to name a few.
Protests have erupted in cities across the country and the world in response to a persistent pattern of racism in our society that creates an environment where such killings occur. Justice is slow and actions to ensure real change are lacking.
As a black man and registered nurse, I am appalled by senseless acts of violence, injustice, and systemic racism and discrimination. Even I have not been exempt from negative experiences with racism and discrimination. The Code of Ethics obligates nurses to be allies and to advocate and speak up against racism, discrimination and injustice. This is non-negotiable.
Racism is a longstanding public health crisis that impacts both mental and physical health. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis and added to the stress in the black community, which is experiencing higher rates of infection and deaths.
At this critical time in our nation, nurses have a responsibility to use our voices to call for change. To remain silent is to be complicit. I call on you to educate yourself and then use your trusted voice and influence to educate others about the systemic injustices that have caused the riots and protests being covered in the news. The pursuit of justice requires us all to listen and engage in dialogue with others. Leaders must come together at the local, state, and national level and commit to sustainable efforts to address racism and discrimination, police brutality, and basic human rights. We must hold ourselves and our leaders accountable to committing to reforms and action.
I have a deeper moral vision for society, one in which we have a true awareness about the inequities in our country which remain the most important moral challenge of the 21st century. This pivotal moment calls for each of us to ask ourselves which side of history we want to be on and the legacy we will pass on to future generations."