The death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police last week and the recent horrific crimes committed against Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many other members of the Black community are heart wrenching and horrendous acts of violence and racism. As nurses who pledge to provide care for all human beings, we must take a stand against this structural and systemic racism that is ingrained in every aspect of our society.
We echo the cry of health care professionals and organizations across the nation: Racism is a public health crisis.
Racial bias in our society affects every aspect of life for Black communities and all people of color, in every facet of society – health, education, economics and justice. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen these atrocious and unacceptable effects magnified as the virus has disproportionately devastated communities already ravaged by long-standing health inequities and disparities. Black communities and other communities of color in the United States have never had equitable access to adequate health care, and we have witnessed firsthand the devastating consequences of this denial of basic human rights and dignity.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”
As caregivers of our fellow human beings, members of the largest portion of the global health care workforce, and often the only point of care in vulnerable communities, it is our duty as nurses to stand for justice and equality for every person and every patient, in every circumstance. It is our duty to use our voices to call out racist words and behaviors. It is our duty and our calling to take deliberate steps to help defeat the racial injustice and discrimination that engulf our nation.
Our school has continued to evolve over time as our members expand to include nursing researchers and clinicians who tackle the very issues of health inequity and access to care that play a role in perpetuating disparities in our nation. Last year, the School of Nursing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion was established as a standing committee within the school’s bylaws. We will continue to take decisive action in these areas, and we are dedicated to the critical task of educating ourselves and our students about the detrimental effects of racism, discrimination and health inequity and prepare them to provide the best care to all people. We will continue to seek solutions to the issues challenging Black communities and all communities of color. And we will work diligently to continue to improve and embrace the diversity of our faculty, staff and students to enrich the nursing profession.
Published June 8, 2020