Registered nurses know that our patients’ health is not only determined by what happens when they encounter the health care system, but largely by the social determinants of their lives in our wider society. As evidenced by documented, vast racial disparities in health care between Black, brown, and Indigenous peoples and white people; by the current uprisings dedicated to the defense of Black lives in response to brutality and killings by the state; and by a host of other injustices, our patients are struggling to survive in a society built upon racist institutions and structures.
We know that until we dismantle this structural racism and reimagine a society premised upon racial, social, economic, gender, and environmental justice, our patients will not be able to achieve and maintain the optimal health we wish for them, and sometimes, simply, to hold onto life.
As patient advocates dedicated to preventing and healing all forms of illness, protecting health and safety, and alleviating human suffering, nurses have a duty to champion what is best for our patients at the bedside and beyond. We have our own special roles to play in the movement for racial justice and must act now.