Recognizing history of Black nurses a first step to addressing racism and discrimination in nursing
young attractive and confident black African American medicine doctor wearing face mask and blue scrubs standing corporate in health care work concept isolated at hospital room

During the coronavirus pandemic, nurses are among the nation’s front-line workers. Over the years and to this day, the contributions of Black nurses are hard-fought, unrecognized and under-appreciated.

Nurses are essential in care delivery, policy directives and in shaping the health-care system. The year 2020 is the year of the nurse and midwife. Yet, Canada’s history of racism and segregation has contributed to residual anti-Black racism that remains present in Canadian nursing.

Nursing, as a profession, was established on Victorian ideals of “true womanhood”, including notions of dignity, purity, morality and virtue. Think: white caps and pristine white smocks.

Historically, people who did not meet these “ideals” were prevented from practising nursing. It was believed that Black women did not possess these ideals of “true womanhood” and in turn, were prevented from pursuing nursing as a career. Many of these unconscious biases and stereotypes about nursing are still believed today, with evidence showing that the exclusion of Black folks and anti-Black practices persist in nursing.

Read more in The Conversation.

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