Nursing organizations step up to address racism and its consequences

Racism and its effects on the health and well-being of the American people has now elicited a direct response from nursing organizations.

Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association, was appalled when he watched the video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, which ultimately led to Floyd’s death, a citizen the officer was sworn to protect.

Ernest Grant, RN

Grant knew the tragedy demanded a response from the nation’s largest nursing organization.

“In my statement to our membership, I explained that we have a code of ethics that obligates nurses to be allies and speak up against racism and social injustice,” Grant said. “Whenever we see racism, we must call it out, even if it is occurring among colleagues. To remain silent is just as problematic as promoting racism.”

Numerous nursing organizations have responded to Floyd’s death by issuing statements, offering virtual discussions to increase awareness about racism and supporting peaceful protests.

As protests have erupted across the nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the ANA educated the public about the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing during the events.

“We are using the public’s trust of nurses to let people know that we care about their health and their concerns about social injustice,” Grant said.

The Black Lives Matter movement

A recent survey from Civiqs showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement has increased significantly as a result of the George Floyd incident, and now a narrow majority (51%) of American voters are in favor of the cause.

While some have reacted to the movement by responding that “All Lives Matter,” Grant said the phrase seems to be exclusive of black lives. “Until people understand the turmoil Black people have experienced, All Lives Matter misses the mark,” he said.

Grant experienced racism personally when he said he was overlooked for job promotions despite the fact that he was qualified or more qualified than other candidates, and when patients did not want him as a nurse because he was Black.


Mawata Kamara, RN (right), with members of National Nurses United at a rally.

The racism Floyd endured is also reminiscent of an incident in the life of ED nurse Mawata Kamara, RN, a member of National Nurses United, which issued a statement in June. In 2008, Kamara was arrested and booked in jail in Hayward, Calif., because police said she did not pull over when they asked her to stop.

“I had stopped, and they gave me no explanation about why I’d been pulled over,” said Kamara, who had been on her way home from the night shift in the ED at San Leandro Hospital. “They asked me to get on my knees outside the car and put on handcuffs, and I was shaking throughout the ordeal,” Kamara said.

She was released nine hours later with the explanation that the officers had checked her …read more

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