Recognizing history of Black nurses: A first step to addressing racism and discrimination in nursing - Caribbean
WEB - Pride (web version) - Ajax, 12/05/2020 - COMMENTARY, English
Black nurses meet a number of barriers in health-care practice. Photo credit: (c) Can Stock Photo / michaeljung
Summary: Keisha Jefferies - During the coronavirus pandemic, nurses are among the nation’s front-line workers. Over the years and to this day, the contributions of Black nurses are hard-fought, unrecognized and under-appreciated. The year 2020 is the year of the nurse and midwife. Yet, Canada’s history of racism and segregation has contributed to residual anti-Black racism that remains present in Canadian nursing. Overall, Black nurses are largely absent from leadership positions and specialty practice areas such as intensive care. Instead, Black nurses are often streamlined into areas that are more physically demanding and strenuous. At the same time, Black people are concentrated in entry-level positions, non-specialty roles or in non-licensed clinical roles such as personal care workers. Beyond physical challenges and visibility, Black nurses are subjected to micro-agressions and racism from patients, colleagues and superiors. Men who enter nursing usually ride the glass escalator: leadership, higher wages and other substantial advantages. It’s a marked contrast to Black women who do not encounter a glass ceiling but rather they hit a concrete wall from simultaneous racism and sexism; their existence is invisible, yet their mistakes and flaws are amplified. Anti-Black racism in nursing is detrimental to Black nurses and to the health of all Canadians, especially since Black folks suffer from high rates of chronic illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure and mental illness. Despite the persistence of anti-Blackness in society, nursing education and health care, Black nurses continue to provide care. Now, more than ever, we must recognize and celebrate their contributions.