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!


37,276 thoughts on “The black nurse

  1. Helen says:

    You will always be my “Golden Nugget Girl”. I hope one day Neema that the world will find clarity and promise in every one…you are amazing through and through…you have the wisdom to find your path…I believe one day you will shine even more…lots of love and even more golden nuggets…stay safe …Helen ❤

    1. excuse me nurse says:

      AWWW Hels thank you for all your golden nuggets. Miss you and hope we can work together soon. Love always Neema

  2. Yvette says:

    This was absolutely perfect !! You hit it right on the nail with the unlearning !!! We need to unlearn the things the system has taught us, we the people MUST change the narrative, it will be difficult at first but perseverance brings strength and with that we will find the power to continue. This was beautifully executed, everything we experience everything we go through has been perfectly explained. Maybe pen to paper is better than words

    Together in unity we stand 🤎

    1. excuse me nurse says:

      Thank you for your words and again for creating a platform that showcases the people in all aspects of nursing x

  3. Carol Brophy says:

    You made me proud to call you my colleague and friend no one worked harder or gave more you will shine your brightest when the time is right for you my little star . I’m very proud of you and blm no ifs or buts no better no worse you are my equal And the sooner other people realise this the better the world will be love you Neems xxxxxxx

    1. excuse me nurse says:

      AWW thank you, Carol, it’s been such a pleasure to work with you and learn so much from you. I miss you lots and hope we can work together soon. Love always xx

  4. Bianca Brown says:

    Hi Nema, I’ve known you only for a short while, but you have left a very lasting impression on me. When I was struggling with some demons it was you who put your arm around me and supported me and how I felt. Thankyou for this very inspiring piece of writing. I stand with you and will always do my best to make a change when and where it arises as I too have a son and nieces and nephews who are mixed race and I worry so much, about what they may have to face but I guess that’s where I can make a change and bring them up as decent but strong human beings. Lots of love and hugs Bianca from NNHM xxx

  5. Danielle Bosah says:

    You are such a strong, amazingly talented black women. And you should be so proud of yourself for all that you have achieved and how bright your future also is. ❤️✊🏽🤎 x

  6. Errol Walters says:

    In reading this passage Neema it makes me proud that you have found a platform to articulate your feelings and understanding of the differences that present us in this life we live. As we see there are many ways in which we can try to effect change either, from outside looking in or within. The decision Will always be with you and which path you choose to take, but what ever path you take know that you have the full support of me and all of your family moving forward. “Neema “ your light glows and is bright

  7. Miss Murray says:

    Amazing to read… it so resonated with me and only seeing ONE person of colour in my clinical setting to look up too. (band 7 ). Just like you a band 6 would do me fine… I know I could do the job and probably go further but it’s funny…. It’s like I’ve seen students I have mentored while working in the NHS become band 6 in the space of 18 month qualifying. Even student nurses on my course are now in senior positions… Sometimes you feel invisible or is it I am not asking the right people of in the right people company in a work setting ! Hmmmm… anyway the fight goes on and like you said we need to have this conversations to move forward #afellowblacknurse

    1. excuse me nurse says:

      I think you’d make a great band 6, working with you guys has been an amazing experience. To work with knowledgable and senior black nurses and support. The things I have learnt professionally and personally from you all has been more than I could have asked for. I hear you on the invisibility front. Now as see it as we have to put ourselves front and centre and really push harder. Which is crazy when we’ve had to do extra just to get to here and sustain it. We move nevertheless!

  8. Tara says:

    Neema you’re a beautiful soul that’s capable of great things!!! Keep pushing forward and aim for the stars, u got this!!! Xxxx

  9. Katie says:

    Poignant and Beautifully written piece by one of the most beautiful, brightest , kindest and loveliest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I feel very proud to call you m friend Neema.

    1. excuse me nurse says:

      ohhh Katie thank you for your kind words, not just here but in life. Can’t wait to see you for much needed fizz and catch up. Hope to work with you all again soon

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