Nursing students being taught white privilege, police brutality at Ohio State

Brian Ledtke
Campus Reform Intern

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  • A mandatory webinar for a nursing course told students that police have assaulted communities for generations.
  • An assigned reading said that white, middle class nursing students give less quality care to minority patients.
  • Students in the Ohio State University nursing program were required to watch a racially charged webinar that claimed police have assaulted communities for generations.

    “Naming and Addressing Racism: A Primer,” was a mandatory viewing in Nursing 3430: “Cultural Competence in Health Care: US and Global Contexts,” a required course taught by instructors Jennifer Dush and Jennifer Kue.

    “Nothing I learned in this class actually helped me care for a culturally different patient.”   

    The webinar, provided to Campus Reform by a nursing student at OSU, who wished to remain anonymous, was originally produced by the American Public Health Association (APHA) in July 2015. The webinar begins by explaining various disparities between whites and minorities, including life expectancies, high school graduation rates, and poverty rates.

    Camara Phyllis Jones, APHA President-Elect and adjunct associate professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, gives many examples in the webinar of how prejudice and discrimination impacts one’s health, listing police brutality, physician disrespect, shopkeeper vigilance, waiter indifference and teacher devaluation as just a few examples.

    Jones expands on shopkeeper vigilance and waiter indifference by saying they are, “just two examples of everyday racism, microaggressions, and lack of respect, probably due [sic] to elevated blood pressures that don’t go down at night in communities of color.”

    She goes on to cite Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and others as receivers of prejudice and discrimination.

    “All communities have been assaulted by police for generations. Now that we have cell phones, we’re learning more about it,” Jones says in the webinar.

    The student told Campus Reform that addressing racism to the degree that the class did was unnecessary, adding that the class spent two weeks on the subject. “The degree of political propaganda in the webinar was honestly sickening,” the student said.

    In the webinar, Jones also talks about the “white man’s ice is colder syndrome,” which says that “If [a black man’s] lemonade is warm, you might go way down the street to get the white man’s ice, truly believing his is colder.”

    She also tells an allegorical story called “Levels of Racism: A Gardener’s Tale,”in which she describes minorities as pink, “scrawny and scraggly” flowers that were planted in rocky soil and portrays white people as red flowers planted in enriched soil.

    When the bees come to pollinate the flowers, Jones says, “Pink flowers tell the bees to go away because they don’t want pollen from other pink flowers because the pink flower has internalized that red is better than pink.”

    “Why should red flowers share their soil?” Jones asks, “Because that soil doesn’t belong to the red flowers, it belongs to the garden.”

    Along with the webinar, the student told Campus Reform that the class had to read, “article after article about how being lower class, minority, homosexual/transsexual, puts you at a higher risk for being sick in America because you don’t get equal treatment in the medical system,” adding that one article went so far as to suggest that white middle class nursing students give lesser quality care to minority patients.

    “That was really offensive to me. Are they seriously telling me that because I am white that I would treat a person of a different race poorly?” the student asked.

    During a Q&A following the webinar, an observer asked, “What are ways that white people can be more practical in addressing racism in our society?”

    Shiriki Kumanyika, APHA’s president and emeritus professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, replied by saying, “Use your white privilege, but you need to realize you can’t shed your white privilege,”

    Regina Moss, the Associate Executive Director of APHA, told Campus Reform it is up to the instructors to determine what content is used in their courses.“Our mission is to improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status,” Moss said. “What content individual faculty deem as requirements in their courses and syllabi is a matter of academic freedom.”

    According to the course description, Nursing 3430 is an “Introduction to concepts and techniques for the provision of culturally competent care within the U.S. and across global contexts.”

    The anonymous student said, “I thought I was going to learn techniques to better care for people who are different than me, but instead I learned how there are so many problems caused by racism and how minorities are discriminated against. Nothing I learned in this class actually helped me care for a culturally different patient.”

    Campus Reform reached out to Jennifer Dush, Jennifer Kue, Dr. Jones and Dr. Kumanyika for comment, but did not receive any responses in time for publication. This article will be updated if and when any of the parties respond.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @brianledtke



    Brian Ledtke

    Brian Ledtke

    Campus Reform Intern

    Brian Ledtke is an intern for Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Brian spent 15 months traveling around the world. He has previously worked as a staff writer for The Saginaw NewsThe Grand Rapids Rapidian, and The Grand Valley Lanthorn.

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