In the final weeks of Black History month, African Americans are painfully reminded of the tenuous and desperate stronghold racism still has on the minds of some people. Since we are well into the twenty-first century, one would believe that people know that African Americans can do more than sing, dance, and play basketball. It is almost unthinkable that anyone would place the life of an innocent child in danger simply because of the ethnicity of a health care provider, but a recent incident in Flint, Michigan's Hurley Medical Center has proven that the more things change the more they stay the same.
Tonya Battle, a nurse with twenty-five years of experience, was humiliated and hurt when a young father made it clear that he did not want his child cared for by her. The problem had nothing to do with training or ability, the request was made simply because she was black. His baby boy was in the neonatal unit of Hurly Medical Center which suggest he had some serious medical issues. The thing that was most troublesome to Ms. Battle and others like her, however, was that her supervisors initially granted the father's request. Satisfying his political idiosyncracies was more important than ensuring his child's well-being through the use of a competent and seasoned professional. What if the child had died, who then would that father blame? Who would he want to be held accountable; or is he so hateful that he'd see his child dead before he'd let someone black help him?
Ms. Battle is no longer employed at Hurley Medical Center, and it is reported that she is suing for an undisclosed amount. It's sad that even now black people are hated for no other reason than the color of their skin. Events like this make it crystal clear why the observation of African American History month is so vitally important. It helps others learn; the only thing that can defeat ignorance is education. That's why it's important to know that somewhere this month, a child has prepared a report or done a project about the contributions of famous African Americans. One of those reports might laud the life-saving achievements of Doctors Charles Drew, Benjamin Carson, or Alfred Blalock. These men whose names may not role off the tongue as easily as that of Dr. George Washington Carver, have made significant advances in the medical field and because of it the lives of many adults and children both black and white have been saved. The father of this child may never acknowledge it, but if his health is compromised and he needs blood or heart surgery, his life will be saved because of the skill and dedication of an African American.