Advancing the Conversation - ENA President Mike Hastings
June 10, 2020 • Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity
The following is a message sent on Wednesday to all ENA members from ENA President Mike Hastings:
Advancing the Conversation
Emergency nurses, by nature, always want to take action.
In the emergency department, when a patient needs us most, we cannot and will not stand by without doing everything possible to help a person who is in pain.
Our nation is hurting, its pain is obvious to anyone paying attention. We need to be listening to the message of the thousands of people who have taken to the streets focused on an issue – systemic racism and the damage it has caused for generations – that no one person alone can fix.
Systemic racism fosters mistrust in communities, it triggers implicit bias, leads to inequities in health care, creates socio-economic disparities and is undeniably evident as the root cause for the deaths of black Americans who lost their lives because of their skin color.
Emergency nurses across the country have undoubtedly seen this crisis play out, for years, in the cities and towns where they live and work. If the deaths of Breonna Taylor, an emergency department technician, inside her own apartment and Ahmaud Aubrey, while out jogging, explicitly showed that no person of color is immune from this problem, George Floyd’s death sparked a dramatic wake-up call with a simple message – we each bear the responsibility to stand up and say enough.
It starts with a dialogue of understanding. It requires us to be vulnerable in order to educate ourselves.
My statement on ENA’s Facebook and Twitter on May 31 served as a first step for ENA to engage in a much-needed conversation about a problem which too frequently rears its ugliness in ways most of us can’t imagine.
I spent the last week reaching out to members, colleagues and the ENA Board of Directors to learn their feelings and hear their perspectives on the statement. Just as it played out on social media, there are those who felt those initial words hit the right tone for the moment, while others were critical of it. Most importantly, asking about the statement proved to be a catalyst for a deeper discussion on systemic racism.
The comments I received made it absolutely clear that we all can do more. ENA created the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Work Team last year to take a hard look at how this association can better connect with members, and all emergency nurses, of diverse backgrounds and develop a welcoming environment that encourages and invites diversity in thought and voice. However, there is more to be done.
What is more? I can’t say for certain right now. There are no quick and easy answers. ENA does not want to just tell you what we’re going to do, we need to be able to show our members what we will do. Action, not lip service, is how we advance this conversation.
ENA cannot do this alone. We need your ideas. As I’ve said multiple times about the COVID-19 crisis, we will get through this together. We must come together to face the systemic racism that has plagued our country for centuries. This is not something that we will be able to solve overnight, I know, but together we can make a difference to promote an antiracist mindset and fight injustice.
Many in our ENA family are hurting right now, and I want you to know how sorry I am that you must live with a depth of pain most cannot fathom. There are few comforting words that can be said in this moment to create immediate relief, but I ask for your trust and support as ENA commits to doing its part to confront systemic racism and eradicate the ways it poisons our society. If anyone, emergency nurses understand how to turn sorrow and anger into strength and action.
Together, we must overcome. Together, we will heal.