I am back at work. I have been at my new place for a month and so far, I am enjoying the view from here. I work overnights, 11 pm until 7 am in the morning. This works for me. I'm a night owl so I put my insomnia to good use. I am making excellent money and the third shift allows me to be home for my son during the day. I can't be more thankful if I tried. (Yes, I will even thank the crack whore who stole my purse. She motivated me to get my job, despite having no ID. No clue? See "Dear Crack Whore" post below).
Anyway, one of the perks of going back to work is blog fodder. I had a run in this evening that angered me to the point of blowing a gasket. Now mind you, I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a diagnosed bipolar with mild schizophrenia. I embrace my disability enough to medicate myself so that my rages are few and far between. It takes a lot to get me angry since going on medication. For me to be this pissed off means that someone took me from the safety of my medication and made me sub-human again. I don't like that feeling.
I was getting report from another nurse. She was telling me about the patients and what sort of issues she had with them this evening. She made a request of a CNA (Certfied Nursing Assistant) to please take a patient back down to his room so he can use his urinal.
"He ain't my patient," she replies.
"No, he isn't," she countered. "But he is a patient and I am asking you to bring him down to his room so he may use his urinal."
"I'll go find his aide."
"No, you won't. I am giving you a direct order to move this patient or I will write you up."
I am watching this interaction and keeping silent. The nurse was in the right. However, I stayed out of it. I didn't feel the aide needed to be reprimanded by two nurses. When the aide stomped away, she said "I am so sick of these white bitches ordering me around."
White bitches? Was she referring to my uniform or to my skin color.
"Adrienne," I called after her. "Come back here please."
She came back to the desk, all attitude, eyes rolling and sucking on her teeth.
"If you don't want to take orders, I might suggest that you either find another field or perhaps, go to nursing school so that you may eventually give the orders. I don't think race has anything to do with this."
"'Course you don't" she said. "You white. I'm black."
The other nurse chimed in "We're educated. You're not."
Adrienne walked away, pushing the patient down the hall, grumbling the entire way. The first nurse turns to me and says, "You know, not to be racist...because I'm not, but I find the black aides to be the worst aides. They never want to do anything."
"Theresa, you are making this a race issue the same way Adrienne is. I have a lot of black aides on my shift that do an amazing job. I have some white girls who are mouthy and obnoxious. This isn't a race thing, it's an individual thing."
And it got me thinking. When someone has to justify something they say or do with the race card, it gets me in the position of feeling less respectful of that person. I don't like it. I don't like to be around it. I am not one of those people who will not speak up when racism becomes an issue. I want no part of it, but to stay silent only condones the other persons actions, so I don't.
Later on, as I was leaving, I caught Adrienne in the hallway.
"You really don't think of me as a bitch, do you?"
"No. That other nurse. She's a bitch."
"I agree. She is a bitch. She could have handled it differently. But I have to ask. Why is she a white bitch? Why was that comment made?"
"You don't understand, CP. You have all the advantages. You went to nursing school, you got a high paying job. Y'all don't have to do a third of the shit we aides have to do. I don't like getting bitched at."
"No one does. I don't. But I really take exception to you calling me a white bitch. I think you have a poor attitude sometimes. You have issues with authority. If I was a black nurse, you would have referred to me as just a plain old run of the mill bitch. No color involved."
"You don't get it," she tells me. "I work hard and I don't get no appreciation."
"I work hard too. I was a CNA at one time. I know it's a hard job. That's why I went back to school. I wanted to be able to do a job where I earned more money and more respect. I didn't like the way the nurses treated me."
"Yeah," she says, "Cause most of y'all are bitches."
She walks away.
I left the building feeling a hole in my heart. Two incidents of racism. One from a black aide and the other from a white nurse. I tried to rationalize with both of them and now I become the pariah for speaking up and out. I don't mind being called a bitch. To me, that's foreplay. It means I am a strong woman who keeps her ideals lofty and has a terrific sense of self. I also don't see color. Perhaps that is because I was raised by parents who are bigots. Again, they justify it with "I have lots of black friends, but..."
This does not bode well with me.
My ex husband is dating a girl who is black. She is a beautiful girl with a kind heart who makes him happy. Yet, my ex is always quick to point out that she is black. Well, duh. I see her. I can see her skin color. I feel more like he is trying to sell her to others, trying to justify his love for a woman of another race. It bothers me to know that in this day and age, we are still drawing pie charts of black versus white. Yes, Adrienne is a shitty aide. She's cantankerous, foul mouthed and impatient. None of those things are characteristics of being black. That is just someone who is not happy with their life.
Theresa, the other nurse, stated that she was going to write Adrienne up and would I back her up on the report. I opted to say no because I don't feel the need to perpetuate this black/white thing any further. When Adrienne does something to endanger one of my patients, I will be the first in line to make sure her ass is out the door. I would do the same with Theresa, if I felt she was jeopardizing patient care.
In the interim, I feel like my happy little bubble has been busted wide open and spewing racial slime all over me.
I'm an assertive white girl. If this qualifies me as a bitch, so be it. Adrienne is an opinionated black girl. If this makes her a bitch, just as well. I only wonder why we can't just call each other names without the color identity.
If a dog shits on your lawn, do you say "Hey! That white dog just shit on my lawn." No identification is necessary. A dog took a dump. That's all anyone needs to know. It needs to be put on a leash and reprimanded.
I imagine that is what is in store for Adrienne in the near future. Black or white, she's a bitch. So is Theresa. So am I.
We have to make room for all the color in the spectrum of the bitchy rainbow.