by Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN • June 1, 2020
photo courtesy of the American Nurses Association
“As a nation, we have witnessed yet again an act of incomprehensible racism and police brutality, leading to the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd. This follows other recent unjustified killings of black men and women, such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor to name a few.
Protests have erupted in cities across the country and the world in response to a persistent pattern of racism in our society that creates an environment where such killings occur. Justice is slow and actions to ensure real change are lacking.
As a black man and registered nurse, I am appalled by senseless acts of violence, injustice, and systemic racism and discrimination. Even I have not been exempt from negative experiences with racism and discrimination. The Code of Ethics obligates nurses to be allies and to advocate and speak up against racism, discrimination and injustice. This is non-negotiable.
Racism is a longstanding public health crisis that impacts both mental and physical health. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis and added to the stress in the black community, which is experiencing higher rates of infection and deaths.
At this critical time in our nation, nurses have a responsibility to use our voices to call for change. To remain silent is to be complicit. I call on you to educate yourself and then use your trusted voice and influence to educate others about the systemic injustices that have caused the riots and protests being covered in the news. The pursuit of justice requires us all to listen and engage in dialogue with others. Leaders must come together at the local, state, and national level and commit to sustainable efforts to address racism and discrimination, police brutality, and basic human rights. We must hold ourselves and our leaders accountable to committing to reforms and action.
I have a deeper moral vision for society, one in which we have a true awareness about the inequities in our country which remain the most important moral challenge of the 21st century. This pivotal moment calls for each of us to ask ourselves which side of history we want to be on and the legacy we will pass on to future generations.”