It is incredible that racism still exists in America in the 21st century. According to The Globe and Mail published today, a nurse in Michigan was denied the ability to treat a newborn because she was African American. The hospital where she works granted the father’s request. Forty-nine-year-old Tonya Battle told the Detroit Free Press she didn’t know how to react when she learned about the request in October at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. Battle sued last month in Genesee Circuit Court seeking punitive damages.”
Nurse Battle claims, “A note was posted on an assignment clipboard reading “No African American nurse to take care of baby.” She says it was later removed, but claims black nurses weren’t assigned to the baby’s care for about a month.
The Globe and Mail goes on to say that the father of the infant showed his swastika tattoo to the Nurses’ supervisor and the hospital staff were afraid for their safety.
According to Minority Nurse, “One explains the fight for equality back in the 1950s and 1960s. “Georgie Conoly Labadie, RN, BSN, EdD, a longtime professor of nursing at the University of Miami, recalls the part she played as a young student nurse in battling the blatant racial segregation that existed in many hospitals, particularly in the South, in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.”
“The young nurse’s spunk was a vestige of her upbringing in Tallahassee, Fla., where Jim Crow laws legalized segregation in public facilities, including public and private hospitals.”
Another pioneer for equal rights for African American nurses was Emma Felder, RN, PhD, professor emeritus of nursing at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She states, “Black nurses were also the target of prejudice in hospitals. Felder recalls quitting at the end of her first day on the job at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee in 1959 because despite having a bachelor’s degree, she was assigned to rocking and bottle feeding one baby for the entire day. Yet, “I was very highly educated, but I was treated like a nurse’s aide,” she says. “I told the head nurse that I felt they had discriminated against me.” When the head nurse refused to respond, Felder adds, “I just walked out and didn’t return.”
These young Black nurses battled, “Alongside heroes of the 1960’s Civil Rights movement like Rosa Parks and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Black nurses played a significant role in desegregating the nation’s hospitals, nursing schools, nursing associations and the military—in some cases even leading the way.”
How could a hospital in the 21st century revert back to the dark days of segregation and racism?
Nadra Kareem Nittle writing for About com maintains, “While it's understandable that a white supremacist wouldn't want a black nurse treating his child, the hospital was wrong for allegedly catering to his preferences. That's because the medical center is bound by the laws of the U.S. government, which prohibit race-based discrimination. As recently as the 20th century, many hospitals in the U.S. were segregated but federal civil rights laws made this practice illegal. That means black doctors and nurses cared for white patients and people of color could not be turned away from "white" hospitals. Since there's no such thing as a "white" hospital anymore, white supremacist parents should seek out the services of white nurse midwives who can come to their homes. It's ridiculous, however, for them to expect medical centers to bend to their racist whims.”