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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

How Would You Respond to a ‘No Black Nurses’ Request?

Published February 28, 2013 4:04 PM by Chuck Holt

My mother was barely 15 years old when she began her first real job working the ticket window of a theater in downtown Kansas City, MO. One day, a group of soldiers came to the window and requested four adult tickets to see the latest hit movie. Newly trained and eager to please, mom did what she was told to do and passed four tickets through the window. Three of the tickets were red and one was green, on the back of which the word “COLORED” was printed in capital letters. The black soldier among them would only be allowed to sit in the balcony. Disgusted, the foursome asked for their money back and walked away. The year was 1951.

I would think of this story often over the years, especially when I would come across the faded silhouettes of signs around town that once boldly proclaimed the hardcore segregation in my city’s past. “White’s Only” could still be made out above a drinking fountain in Swope Park, I remember. And as late as the mid-1990’s “Colored Entrance” still revealed this ugly history above the back doors of a number of well-known restaurants and hotels. 

Most times, seeing the remnants of institutionalized racism would send chills up my spine. Other times, I passed under them without giving their historical context much if any thought, I’m ashamed to say. My city was still loudly segregated but it had grown quite, revealing itself only in subtle ways now. So when I learned recently that an infant’s parent had actually requested “no black nurses” touch his baby, I was shocked and dismayed but I can’t honestly say as I was entirely surprised. However, when I learned that white staff at the facility actually took steps to fulfill the request, that old familiar chill ran right up my back.

Being lucky to have access to this blog to express my outrage, I immediately began to write a scathing opinion on the matter, only to stop myself from posting it—twice. Who was I to complain, after all, an ordinary average white guy like me?  The first draft started out OK, but quickly became deep and philosophical, when I’m not really either, making it just seem forced, if you will. The second draft was just plain damning and confrontational. What to do, I wondered. It was my turn to blog after all, and I wanted to say something about this.

A few days later, a statement on the “no black nurses” request arrived in my email box from Deidre Walton, JD, MSN, RN/PHN, President of the National Black Nurses Association.  In it, Walton did not lash out at the white staff for even considering accommodating such a ludicrous, racist request in 21st century America, although surely it must have been very tempting. Instead, she calmly laid out the facts of the case and then proceeded to explain how the nursing profession has long been a standard bearer in drafting zero-tolerance policies against all forms of discrimination.

Wish I’d have thought of that, I said to myself more than once while I read it. And I encourage you to read it too. You’ll find it in its entirety in our National News section: come back and tell us, if you were presented with “no black nurses” request, what would you do?


I used to worry a lot about how much TV my kids watched and beat mselyf up if it was too much.  I've relaxed.  I still monitor closely WHAT they watch.  I find that as they get older and are busier, I don't have worry about watching too much because they don't have time.  And they aren't even old enough for homework.  But I think that a lot of this depends on your child.  My kids don't veg.  They do not sit still and are not very mesmerized by TV or movies.  Often times, they watch a show or two and turn it off themselves.  If it was an issue, I'd definitely have to regulate more.  I find for Macartney, she really needs some down time to relax when she gets home from school, so she'll got watch a show or two, sometimes by herself.  Then she comes upstairs happy and relaxed and ready to talk about her day.  I'm sure that reading with her would be a better option, but with 4 kids, that is a busy time for me trying to get dinner ready and such.  I will admit that there are some mornings when Vienna (3) watches too much TV, while the older two kids are at school and the baby is sleeping, so that I can get things done, like take a shower!    I'd like to manage my own time more effectively to make better use of that time with her.  As far as what the kids watch:  We don't have Netflix because it kind of sucks in Canada, and we can't get Hulu or anything like that here either.  We have cable.  Mostly because we ourselves like TV too much.  But we PVR everything so we know exactly what the kids are watching.  I like this, because when it ends, the younger kids don't know how to put on a new show, so they won't just watch shows back to back.  Macartney knows how to use it, but again, I know what she's watching.  Luckily, she's not at all into the tween shows like Hannah Montana or anything like that.  Most of the shows the kids like are on PBS or CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is similar to PBS).  No commercials which is great!  By far the favorite is Wild Kratts, which is an awesome show!  The things the kids learn from that amazes me!  My kids also love nature shows like Life.  As far as Disney movies go, I hate the merchandising and I hate that some of them have language or themes that I'm not crazy about, but we buy most of the movies. My kids don't watch them very often.  I still like them from my youth, but the kids aren't that interested.  We like Bolt a lot.  I find it doesn't have anything objectionable in it and it's good for both boys and girls.  Toy Story is good, but the neighbor kid and the mutant toys might scare some kids.  Other non-Disney movies that we like are Rio (the kids LOVE this one right now!) and I think that Curious George is a great one for little kids because it doesn't have any  stupids  or anything like that and not really a bad guy in it. (I think they say idiot or moron, once, though.)In some ways, I think the shows our kids can watch now are way better.  There is definitely an attempt to make them politically correct with a moral message and teaching something.  Even Disney tries to have a positive message!  Some of the stuff we watched was so mindless.  We've run into a few shows that are just mindless entertainment that the kids want to watch, but we just limit it.  And if I don't like a show, they don't watch it, no matter how much they like it!I think that it is important to talk to kids about what they watch.  We have had lots of conversations about how it's not okay to call people stupid or idiots and saying shut up is not allowed.  And I do attempt to limit the shows and movies that have that in them.  And again, it's about knowing your kids.We watched The Wizard of Oz last year with the kids and I didn't think they paid very much attention.  But when Denver and I saw Wicked this summer, the kids asked what it was about and I told them and they remembered Wizard of Oz.  I think it's fine for kids if you don't think the flying monkeys will scare them.  They kind of freaked me out when I was little.

Kamal Kamal, GMZizIGVlKhXJE - AyRLUgdXVbzsqMZ, ADukFJOUVLabSQzCBk April 12, 2013 11:39 AM

If you substitute race for gender, should we not be equally outraged if a patient says, "I only want a woman doctor (or nurse) taking care of me."? I agree that we as nurses have an obligation to educate our peers and patients about all forms of discrimination. I think when you look at gender discrimination in this context it becomes more obvious how this seemingly subtle request should be answered. "No, we don't allow that here!"

Wendy, Women's Health - RN, Hospital March 6, 2013 7:43 PM
Farmington CT

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