Nurses for Racial Justice: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee’s Efforts Centered Around Undoing Racism

Nurses for Racial Justice

While our country was still processing and mourning the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, we watched as George Floyd’s life was taken right before our eyes. We continue to grieve the losses of Mike Ramos, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and countless other black men, women, and children who have died at the hands of those who devalue human life. These traumatic events and resultant suffering are unfortunately not new to communities of color, and are symptoms of a deeper problem with which our nation has yet to grapple.

The protests over the weekend remind us that in this country there exist deep-rooted and long-standing inequities, the result of systems designed to promote the welfare of some and deny opportunities for others. In order to diagnose and treat the malignancy of systemic and institutionalized racism that is woven into the fabric of America, we must critically examine, challenge, and dismantle structures that reinforce racism and protect racists.

It is for these reasons that the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee’s recent efforts have centered around undoing racism. This is not to the exclusion or the neglect of other dimensions of diversity or the treatment of other marginalized groups, but as witnessed throughout the history of this country, anti-Black racism is paramount. Black Americans often bear the brunt of the worst outcomes in our systems, and we believe that when we raise the bar for those with the worst outcomes, we raise the bar for all. 

At the UT Austin School of Nursing, we stand in support of all of our Black students, faculty, staff, clients for whom we care, and all who identify with and advocate for traditionally marginalized groups. It is imperative that we utilize our privilege to influence lasting systemic change. 

As faculty, we reaffirm our commitment to educate our students and community about the impact of institutional racism on health and to create a society in which all individuals can live and thrive. We pledge to work to undo racism by educating ourselves and our students about the deep inequities that exist and the underlying causes. We pledge that the students we graduate will exemplify the knowledge, understanding, and compassion in working towards racial equity in all our health care systems.

As students, we openly and wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with the Black community in speaking out and fighting against years of systemic racism and oppression that has infected the criminal justice system. We understand silence and inaction as complicit in perpetuating racism and anti-Black sentiment, so we refuse to dismiss historical and current oppression. We acknowledge that racism and bias are not only present in the criminal justice system, but in the health care system as well; as evidenced by COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black Americans and Black infant and maternal morbidity and mortality rates. If we are to truly provide the best nursing care for all, we must directly address the pervasive racism that seeps into our profession.

It is more evident than ever that the systems we have inherited are not broken; they are operating exactly as they were designed. Though we did not create them, it is our imperative to dismantle them and create equitable systems in their place. We encourage fellow nurses and students to seek knowledge surrounding current movements and the history of systematic racism, empower and amplify anti-racist advocacy, make donations to organizations that push the movement forward, and build our collective power by voting. We firmly stand by the belief that all lives cannot matter until Black Lives Matter. 

If you are interested in participating in planning and supporting the efforts of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, please contact DEI@nursing.utexas.edu.

Article submitted in solidarity by: UT Austin School of Nursing Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, UTNSA, ANGS, AANSA, HNSA, LAMN, SCAN & Nurses for Racial Justice


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