In the spirit of this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday earlier this week, I have come to graciously revere each and every individual across this brave world committed to standing firm against discrimination and prejudice towards minorities, especially in healthcare. Minority classes have historically been excluded from possessing basic human rights; and as such, have had to fight tirelessly, day after day, night after night, year after longing year, for equality already having been deserved. In the month of January, I have partnered with Medelita in their “Breaking Barriers” campaign to share just how truly phenomenal a contribution minorities have made in healthcare.
Breaking barriers means more than simply speaking on injustices, but it also means acting on these injustices. It goes without saying that there have been countless numbers of activists in past years and also in present years in areas such as politics, business, humanities, fashion, beauty, and many other disciplines, that have diligently led the charge toward equal treatment for all. In the healthcare field, the story is no different.
Ask yourself this: if you knew your physician was of the Islamic faith, would you refuse treatment? If your nurse were a homosexual, would you ask for another?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then perhaps you should ask yourself why your tolerance of minorities is so clouded in prejudice. If you had not known these personal facts beforehand, would your reaction be different? Likely so. Predetermined assumptions about those different from the majority are what make minorities in healthcare the black sheep of the system. Being an African American woman, I, too, am labeled (whether subconsciously or otherwise) with the stigma of being different or “out of place” or “not belonging”, and find myself having to work twice as hard for recognition that some others so easily obtain.
However discouraging such an assumption, we as minorities must look at our differences as blessings, not burdens. No matter your gender, race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, or sexual orientation, we each comprise just a small portion of an extraordinarily diverse planet. In a world that oftentimes seems to be growing less tolerant of diversity, it requires nothing short of bravery to be unapologetically you.
Ask yourself today, how can you break barriers in healthcare? Just the slightest movement towards greater inclusion is a step in the positive direction.
Mahatma Gandhi once stated, “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.”
In an ever-changing world, we as minorities must possess this same attitude of singular strength. It is up to us to continue to break barriers, both for ourselves and for others who have not yet found their strength. To every woman, every person of color, every Believer of any Faith, or any other minority, know that the courage to push through societal barriers has been inherently instilled in you. Use this courage to unlock your potential and unleash a fire so consuming that you blaze trails for years to come.
About the author:
Kendall Green, BSN, RN is a registered nurse living in Augusta, Georgia, where she works in both a medical-surgical unit and transplant unit. Kendall is an insatiable learner of all things nursing and health, and she makes it a priority to become very involved in the facility at which she works. Follow Kendall on Instagram and visit her website at AstoldbyKendall.com.