ANA Issues Racial Reckoning Statement

The governing body of the American Nurses Association (ANA) took historic action to begin a journey of racial reckoning by unanimously voting “yes” to adopt the ANA Racial Reckoning Statement. An ANA statement notes that it is a meaningful first step for the association to acknowledge its own past actions that have negatively impacted nurses of color and perpetuated systemic racism. (The term “nurses of color” reflects all nurses representing race and ethnic groups and is meant to be fully inclusive in the use of this language.)

ANA considers this racial reckoning to be a journey that seeks to acknowledge past actions that continue to impact the profession today, and as a starting point of a new journey toward the future. “Through acts of omission, when we failed to act, and commission, when ANA’s actions negatively impacted nurses of color, we have caused harm and perpetuated systemic racism,” the organization states. As a leader, ANA holds accountabilities at both the organizational and the broader professional level. ANA is striving for a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable professional organization and a nursing profession that meets the needs of all people.

ANA begins the reckoning with an acknowledgment that from 1916 until 1964, ANA purposefully, systemically, and systematically excluded Black nurses. The statement describes a timeline of discriminatory events and barriers that prevented full employment and professional development of nurses belonging to minority racial groups. There was a lack of representation of Black nurses on the policy level for decades. In the 1960s, ANA sought to advance the educational level of nurses without ensuring that all nurses would have the same access to the education necessary to achieve the desired educational level for entry into the profession. In 1973, the National Black Nurses Association was created because other professional nursing associations granted Black nurses few privileges. Likewise, in the 1974 Hispanic nurses joined together to establish the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.

There continues to be a need to examine how raising educational requirements for nursing advances nursing today and to examine strategies for ensuring that educational opportunities are equally available to all students, especially students of color, the ANA statement notes.

ANA recognizes that issues of racism persist today and continue to harm nurses of color. A 2021 national survey on racism in nursing noted that racist acts are principally perpetrated by colleagues and those in positions of power. Over half of nurses surveyed said they had personally experienced an act of racism in the workplace, with transgressors being either a peer or a manager or supervisor.

“The journey is one of reckoning and reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing,” the ANA states. “The journey will take some time, but it is one that ANA is fully committed to.”