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Unheard Stories of

Casual Discrimination

Rachelle Peebles

Woman | ICU Charge RN | Educator

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...you need to prove yourself more, before you're actually taken seriously"

I learned long ago that black people have to 'prove' themselves just a little more in life to be taken seriously, especially based on my own experiences as a professional, career-driven African-American woman.  


When I meet new people and the question of what I do for a career is brought up, first initial reactions show a slight pause in confusion, and later met with a quick response of "good job", or "congratulations"; like this is some major accomplishment for someone who looks the way that I do. And during these times, in which there have been many, I think to myself, "yes black people can be higher up in the medical community", but instead, I usually just reply with a simple "thank you" and a smile.  


I'm an intensive care unit charge RN. What exactly has it taken me to be here, well I will tell you. It's taken remarks from others who have stated that I only got into nursing school because of the color of my skin. Absolutely not true, it actually took me 3 times of applying to different schools before getting accepted, after retaking some prerequisite classes to obtain a higher GPA of my 3.9. 


I've been met by professors who state that someone told them that I have cheated on tests, which was never the case. I've received lower grades than my white counterparts on group projects in which we all contributed equally to. During clinical rotations, I've had random check-ins from instructors, where I later find out that my other classmates did not. I've chosen to not have these unfair acts inflicted upon me stop me from my end goal.  


When I graduated from nursing school and finally entered into my career, I was again met with resistance. No hospitals would hire me. So I took a first job working in assisted living to get experience and prove that I can later handle the demands of working in a hospital environment. I had multiple interviews before a hospital finally offered me a position; I wanted full time, but was only offered on-call initially. I took it, regardless, to get my foot in the door, knowing I would have to prove myself once again to obtain permanent employment. 


After being there a year, I thought it best to again try for a full time position, but was only offered part-time, I took it anyway. And after time, showing that I was an asset to the company, I was later offered that full time position.  


As I started my work on the beginning critical care floor, I knew I didn't want to stop there. I knew I could learn so much more in my practice and began the necessary steps to get onto a more critical care floor. Again, being met by whisperings of negativity from coworkers and past managers, with lack of support and resistance. 


But I didn't care.  


I knew my drive. I knew I could do more... be more. 


And when doors have been shut, I've welcomed them as an opportunity to prove myself more and work harder for those doors to gradually swing open. 


I've never let hurdles stop me. But as I am writing this, while I have lived this, I ask myself why I even had to go through all of these hurdles in the first place. Just to prove that I am in fact intelligent enough, skilled enough, hard-working enough to be in the place that I am at today, when other nurses of different races in my field of work just simply... DO NOT.


-Rachelle Peebles 

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