Last week I promised a Man Crush Monday you wouldn’t want to miss, so today I hope I am delivering on that promise. I give you, dear readers, George Yancy and Dear White America. It is well worth a read. I browsed the comment section and there were some good, thoughtful responses in there. Of course, there are also the usual “not all whites” and “I’m not privileged because of something my ancestors did” and “I’ve got black friends” folks that feel the need to chime in on any articles referring to race, gender, or social class. Boring and predictable.
And, unfortunately Professor Yancy reports some extremely disturbing responses via e-mail, snail mail and telephone. I sometimes think that you can gauge the veracity of a claim, in part, by the number of folks who attempt to silence the claimant. Anyway, you can read Professor Clancy’s thoughts on this experience here: The Perils of Being a Black Philosopher.
I think that racism in America is a systemic issue. If you deny its existence I don’t even know what to say to you – do you also deny climate change? Do you believe the earth is flat? Do you see Elvis at the supermarket?? And I think that wallowing in guilt lets us off the hook, in a sense, because it makes the issue all about us. This issue, I think, is about the experiences of other people who are harmed by institutional racism. I’m a pragmatist, so I feel that I need to acknowledge my privilege and then look for practical ways to help folks who don’t share that privilege. This blog is a small part of my activism. My research and political activities are also designed to foment positive changes in nursing and health care. White America, we can do better.
I was going to post a funny video for Friday, and I was nosing around on YouTube and on some of my favorite blogs (by the way, if any of you multicultural angels out there have WordPress expertise and are willing to share it I’d be so grateful!) to find something I liked, but I guess I’m in a more serious mood because I kept drifting toward the deep water. The end of a long week isn’t necessarily the best time to go for the deep stuff, though, is it?
Then I found this charming little video narrated by Chescaleigh and animated by Kat Black and I decided it was a perfect way to end the week:
I’m taking a little weekend break. The semester has been intense and this chick is tired. I’ll be back next week with a Man Crush Monday you won’t want to miss!
IBM is introducing IBM Health Corps, described in the linked article as:
…a global first-of-its-kind pro-bono program focused on tackling health disparities using IBM Watson’s cognitive tools and analytics. The new service initiative will bring IBM’s top talent and cognitive technologies to help communities address health challenges such as primary care gaps, health worker shortages, and access to safe water and nutritious food.
There is a tiny (okay, perhaps not-so-tiny) part of me that is perhaps unfairly cynical when large corporations want to tackle issues that profoundly affect people’s well-being. My mother used to say that when politicians come calling, watch your skirt and watch your wallet. I’d like to paraphrase that and have it read: when corporations come calling, watch your wallet. Corporations are like cancer – they are very good at growth without regard to the damage they do to the host. There are numerous instances of corporations turning someone else’s pain into profit.
I hope I am wrong. I hope IBM’s attention to health disparities doesn’t turn into yet another example of corporate profit on the backs of the poor, and on the backs of minorities. Those backs can’t bear much more.
My WCW this week goes back in time to Mary Eliza Mahoney. Mary Mahoney was the first black professional nurse in the United States. Now, we all know that women (and men) of all races have been nursing the sick for thousands of years but Nurse Mahoney completed a 16-month training program in nursing in 1879. She was the first black woman in the United States to do so. Mahoney was active in organizing nurses – she was an original member of what would eventually become the ANA and she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. She was also involved in the fights for women’s suffrage and civil rights. We are standing, my friends, on the shoulders of giants and Nurse Mahoney is among those.
One of the problems with recruiting talented people into nursing is that nursing suffers from bad PR. Don’t believe me? Think about the portrayals you’ve seen of nurses in the media. Are they portrayed as highly-skilled professionals with a strong science background? Or are they portrayed as handmaidens, angels or sex objects?
There is an organization working hard to improve media portrayals of nursing and nurses. It’s The Truth About Nursing and their information is worth a look.
THE TRUTH ABOUT NURSING challenges stereotypes and educates the world about the value of nursing. Better understanding that nurses are autonomous, college-educated science professionals will strengthen nursing care, education and research, allowing nurses to save more lives.
How does this relate to my goal of increasing nursing diversity? Well, I think that poor media portrayals of nursing tend to drive everyone away from the profession. We need to attract bright, capable people from all races and all genders and all walks of life. You can help – visit The Truth About Nursing and take action!
I’m coming to terms with the notion that I am, at heart, a cultural studies scholar. A year ago I wasn’t aware cultural studies existed, so it has taken a bit to wrap my head around the idea that there is a discipline encompassing what I do when I am not working on something related to nursing. I always felt a bit guilty, going through the blogs and Twitter to see what people were discussing. Now it’s part of my research!
Anyway, in my readings yesterday I came across this article: Here’s How You Can Be Unintentionally Racist – And How Allies Can Recover, written by Leah R. Kyaio. I am sharing the link because Kyaio describes an interaction with a child, and she then moves into a discussion of institutional racism in schools.
This is the bit that resonated:
School rules related to group norms, white group norms, place a target directly on those who don’t follow those group norms.
As schools increase in their policy of zero tolerance, those who fall outside the norms — who are never taught to bridge the gap, never taught the rules of the culture of power or reject it because it conflicts with their culture or needs — fall deeply between the cracks as discipline becomes more and more severe.
This is the experience of our students of color.
This, friends and colleagues, is part of the problem with increasing diversity in nursing. Students who fail (for whatever reason) to meet our white, female norms are pressured into compliance or they are dropped. Many students of color may have difficulty meeting those norms on a personal or a psychological level. Thus, they are at risk from the moment they set foot into the classroom.
We have to fix this. We have to design interventions that teach the gatekeepers (nurses) how to interpret behavior and language in a culturally sensitive manner because it is not reasonable to continually insist that people of color adapt to us. That attitude has brought us here and here is a land of health disparities that shorten lives and decimate families.
This post isn’t nursing-related, but it’s the weekend. A nurse can’t be on duty all the time, right? So, for your reading pleasure: Film Dialogue, billing itself as the “largest script analysis ever undertaken.” You will be shocked, dear readers, to learn that film dialogue is dominated by white men. Or maybe not. Maybe you’ve seen EVERY SINGLE WORD. Heck, maybe you have eyes and a brain in your head and you’ve simply been paying attention.
Kind of ironic, given the recent meltdowns among certain groups of white men over Star Wars, Ghostbusters & Mad Max: Fury Road, huh? Yeah, maybe a multicultural nurse can’t take a weekend off without culture coming into play. 😦
The Multicultural Nurse is embroiled in literature reviews right now, and I’ve stumbled across a few great articles that are available to the public. Unfortunately, many journal articles are only available to folks who work or study in an academic center, unless you subscribe to that journal or pay a per-use fee. Although there’s some great stuff being published in the journals, I’m not including any of it today because of those fees.
First, an excellent piece by Dr. Marianne Jeffries, Dynamics of Diversity. Dr. Jeffries makes the case for building cultural competence into our interactions with patients and with each other. I think most nurses are really good at patient-centered interventions, but I think we struggle when it comes to caring for each other. That’s something that needs to be addressed for the the health of the profession and of the individuals who make up the profession: us.
Second, here’s a piece by Debra Wood, Diversity in Nursing: Will It Ever Match Patient Demographics? This piece discusses some of the projects out there intended to increase nursing diversity, and makes the point that we need a more diverse nursing faculty.
Finally, here is a piece by Dr. Janice Phillips & Dr. Beverly Malone: Increasing Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Nursing to Reduce Health Disparities and Achieve Health Equity. This report is a downloadable pdf and covers characteristics of successful minority recruitment and retention strategies. The takeaway for me from this article is that there’s a lot of great stuff happening in the nursing world. If you want to do something about diversity in your organization you won’t necessarily need to invent the wheel – there are folks out there willing to share their strategies and insights.
The one, the only: bell hooks. You’ll forgive the Multicultural Nurse for geeking out a bit, won’t you? I love bell hooks. She speaks and writes such amazing and powerful truths. She’s on Twitter. She hangs out with cool feminists. There are some cool things going on at her institute. She is incredible!
I am. I thought I wasn’t, is the thing. I thought I was completely fair-minded and objective. But we can have biases we don’t even recognize, and those biases can affect our attitudes, our behavior and our decisions. It behooves each of us to examine our belief system and our attitudes and to try at least to recognize our conscious and unconscious biases.
To that end, I encourage you to consider taking the Implicit Association Test from Harvard University. The purpose of the test is to measure “attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report” and uncover your unconscious biases. You might surprise yourself.