The black nurse

Good afternoon I hope you’re well!
My title a bit out there you think. I’ve probably been called it as many times if not more. Than my two-syllable quite easy to pronounce, first name or my very English sounding second. Better than the coloured nurse though I guess!

I posted last week on FB that I don’t speak about racism much because of how angry it makes me. I never seem to know how to articulate my words through moments of rage.

If the last two weeks have taught me anything is that it is possible. Take the time you need to pause and then speak.

I’m not sure why the unlawful killing of these black people, have been the catalyst. When we’ve been here so many times before. I can only hope this may just be a time of real change. I’m sad it has taken this, for some of us to remember how to loud up our voices.

This last few weeks at work have been truly testing. I’ve put myself in a role that is far removed from my surgical and gynaecology experiences. It’s been nerve-wracking, to say the least. Mainly because every day, I’ve had to show up for work and be the best version of nurse I can be and it’s really difficult when you’re sad. When you’ve entered the very few conversations and spoken about the racism that has governed your life and relived those traumas in an attempt to openly discuss race.

It’s been traumatic, exhausting, enraging and sad! I’m emotionally spent!

Nursing isn’t what I’d dreamed of originally, but it has become something I’ve loved and continue to love. Just like other parts of life; racism, microaggressions, discrimination and prejudice have shown their ugly heads time and time again. There have been times when I’ve had support, more often than not it’s been brushed under the carpet as a “they didn’t mean it” “chin up you’re bigger than that”. Thus never allowing me to navigate the emotions or lessons to be truly learnt. It’s left me feeling so lonely.

I’ve often been asked about my career progression and where I’d like to take my nursing. Which I’ve always replied, “band 6+ isn’t for me”. I’ve finally had time to sit with that statement. Which has allowed me to be honest enough with myself, so now I can be honest with you. It’s not something I don’t feel is for me. I’d quite love it and feel I wouldn’t be too bad at it. However, when I’ve looked up at the places I’ve worked and not seen presentation it’s been disheartening.

People will always tell you they are allies and you will be supported. There’s so much unlearning to do. I’m just scared that when these moments of inequality, racism or discrimination arise. I’ll be on my own fighting for what I think is right, just like I have been before.
Being that scared is debilitating, knowing there’s something you could have but the intricacies of life are so limiting you feel it’s not quite possible.

I’d love to shout to An Instagram page about the nursing experience made a nurse named Yvette. I started following her page a while ago and honestly. If ever I need a boost, there’s always something there. Finding this space opened me up to a realisation that there are nurses who look like me (although mainly down south) in senior positions. I can only thank her for this platform and safe space for me to be me!
With all that said “be the change, you want to see” is my new nursing mantra.

I’m not sure how but as my good friend Dodd always tells me “you’ll figure it out Neem you always do”

Some of you will read this and think it’s hard to progress for all. So, I’d like to take the moment to remind you that. Within the NHS there is a specific leadership programme. Directed at BAME nurses, due to the noticeable under-representation in managerial positions. Think about it.

I hope in every part of life, the momentum we are feeling and have experienced in the last few weeks continues to effect change.

These conversations aren’t comfortable, nothing worth having comes easy.

I do ask one thing of anyone who is reading this. Start the conversations!

There are members of your team that have been showing up, after seeing things that have triggered them and reliving traumas, they thought they left behind. I hate to make generalising statements but it’s likely that some of them will feel you don’t care. As life in your team has continued without a word uttered. Maybe its because you don’t know what to say, find it hard or you’ve not thought about it too much. Everything has to start somewhere.

 If your workplace is like mine, you’ll have had an email something along the lines of “we stand together” some of you will have read it, if not please go back and read it. Hopefully, they have lots of useful information. Otherwise, there’s a whole host of content available right now on the net. If you’ve been doing all of this then great, if not then the time for change is NOW!

The conversation of racism isn’t just for us it’s for everyone!


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