Words matter.
As a #DisabledNurse I often deal with #ableism in my professional life. Today I was attending a national meeting and want to share what happened. It is not my intent to embarrass or call anyone out. I want to share my perspective with hope it helps ppl.
When I know better I do better and I try to share my learnings. I was listening to an excellent webinar by a person who clearly had mastery of the topic today. During the presentation, that I paid to attend, they used the term “lame” several times to mean boring or not creative.
After several times saying it, I posted in the chat to please not use that word.

The speaker was talking and did not see the comment. Someone was reading questions and comments to them and skipped my comment while addressing all of the other comments. Image
A participant who does not know me sent me a private message with the definition of “lame”. Like perhaps I did not learn how to look up word meanings during my 14 years of college. Image
I responded privately. Image
The participant responded to me again and said to let it go and posting my message in the chat was inappropriate.
Let’s unpack this a little. Yes, there are words that are harmful and stigmatizing that have more than one meaning. In most cases though it is easy to use a synonym to convey the message without harming anyone. (I.e. boring or dull vs. lame).
When someone is brave enough to speak up when they feel offended or harmed by language this is a great opportunity to learn. Becoming defensive does not help anyone. A simple, thank you for telling me is all that is needed.
One of the reasons ppl don’t speak up in these situations is fear. The dominant response is often to defend the person causing harm especially when they are harming someone who is historically marginalized, is “othered” or is an “only” in the space.
When ppl respond defending the speaker with an explanation of why it is ok to use a derogatory or stigmatizing word in response to someone sharing their harm it invalidates that human’s experiences. It causes further harm. It is a way of upholding oppression and marginalization.
This is a tool to keep ppl silent. It happens to Black and brown ppl all of the time when they share their experiences with racism. Someone has to jump in and say, “that happens to me too so it is not racism or I don’t think that is racism”. Don’t do that.
Telling me to let it go and that I am inappropriate for sharing my harm is tone policing. It is a key strategy used to make people afraid to speak up. Saying someone is unprofessional or inappropriate is meant to keep ppl quiet when they are outside of dominant group norms.
The message is be quiet or we will exclude you. Your presence in this space can be removed. The weaponization of Eurocentric colonial ideals about professionalism is a significant factor in why we are not seeing meaningful progress in the diversity of the nursing profession.
I am not going to share names or the event. I do not believe the speaker intended to harm anyone. The other person messaged me privately and I will maintain that confidentiality. I am sharing because I learn from historically marginalized scholars here and want to give back.
Of note, one person responded to me that I very nicely called the speaker in. Thank you, and next time please say that publicly. I appreciate the PM but if we want change we have to speak up as allies. The reason ppl do this privately is fear or being excluded too.
Ally is a verb. It requires action.
So here is my ask: 1) If someone tells you word(s) are harmful say thank you and do some learning. 2) Do not tone police ppl who show courage in speaking up. Keep in mind it is scary to speak up because folks have the ability to affect opportunities and professional success.
3) If someone is brave enough to speak up about harm and you are an ally speak up to reinforce the message and show support. A simple “Thank you for sharing. I did not know that” or “I agree” is helpful.
Language is evolving and mistakes happen. I have used harmful language because I did not know it was harmful until someone told me. I am grateful to learn when someone kindly informs me I used harmful language.
I use online resources to help me understand how to best communicate. The AMA equity guide has been useful for me. ama-assn.org/system/files/a…
The Disability Language Style Guide is helpful too. ncdj.org/style-guide/

If you know of other sources that are useful please share them. I welcome the opportunity to learn.
I have spoken up publicly in two spaces in the past couple months and in both cases I was not supported. Everyone was either silent or defending the person who used harmful language. In both cases I was accused of being unprofessional and there is a practice to pay. However…
I will continue to speak up. That is how we address systematic racism, discrimination, and oppression. I understand that ppl may call me unprofessional or divisive. I get that I may be excluded. I understand the cost. I will continue. Change requires courage and I am not afraid.
I hope you will join me.
Price to pay**

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More from @drannamvaldez

Oct 18
Thoughts on racism for nurses...
Note: I am not saying only nurses need this information. I teach nurses. This is my lane.

In my DEI work, I hear the same statements from nurses repeatedly. I want to share a few and discuss why they are problematic.
"I have been a nurse for XX years, and I have never seen racism in healthcare."

This is a good indicator that your privilege is working. You are likely not experiencing racism and do not recognize it because you are unaffected and have not invested time trying to learn.
"I am color blind."

No, you're not (at least not in this context). You see skin tones. Saying you are color blind invalidates the humanity and experiences of people who deal with racism and oppression because of their skin color. It closes the door to dismantling racism.
Read 7 tweets
Jun 3, 2021
Being a #disabled #nurse is hard - a 🧵 I might delete because this is uncomfortable to share.

I have had #Lupus and several other autoimmune disorders for 20 years and it is frustrating, painful, and at times debilitating.
I don’t talk about my health or what I go through openly because I am afraid that ppl will withhold opportunities or overlook me because I am “sick”. I don't even share how sick I am with most of my family.
I have pretended to be well a lot. Why? Because many nurses and healthcare professionals are ableists. If I don't pretend to be well I am criticized and marginalized. I get treated like a burden when I need accommodations.
Read 12 tweets
Feb 26, 2021
I’ll share my #firstgen story. I did not even consider college because I did not think I would be “eligible” even though I did well in high school. No counselor every talked to me about college. I think it was because I was poor and had worked in high school 1/
I got pregnant at 16 and was told “I would never be anything”. I dropped out of HS in my junior year and had my daughter at 17. I had no idea how I could support her. 2/
When I was pregnant I saw a newspaper story about the local LVN program. The story said most of the graduates were poor, first gen, minoritized ppl. There was a photo of the class. They were my ppl. 3/
Read 13 tweets
Dec 17, 2020
#COVID19 thread – Trigger alert. I am so angry with America today. I am angry at people who call #COVID19 a hoax or refuse to wear masks and physically distance. 1/
I am angry at the government who has failed to provide any leadership to control this pandemic. Their inaction has killed over 300,000 Americans. 2/
Elected officials are denying critical access to basic needs arguing over $600 payments and corporate liability protection while humans are hungry, lack shelter, and are dying. I am sick and tired of the individualism, racism, and the lack of empathy that plagues this country. 3/
Read 10 tweets
Sep 6, 2020
Why is garbage like this still being published? This is from the newest edition of Nurse as Educator. It is the textbook for a course I am teaching (not selected by me). This is the section on teaching Black/AA people. 1/
First question - why do white nurses feel they need to have a section on how to teach “others”. What makes them think non white cis hetero folx learn differently and need special “strategies” ? Wait, I know - racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. 2/
Check out how stereotypes are perpetuated in this list of strategies. These stereotypes are not limited to Black folx. There are sections for other racialized groups, disabled, and LGBTQ folx too. 3/
Read 7 tweets
Aug 5, 2020
🧵 I am listening to the autobiography of Assata Shakur and thinking about the ways that nursing is complicit in surveillance, policing, and racism. I am struck by how nurses were complicit in torturing Ms. Shakur and how at least one nurse stood in the way of abuse. 1/
I am sitting with the ways that I have been complicit in policing my patients both intentionally and unintentionally. I am also sitting with the ways I have policed nursing students. I am disappointed and hopeful at the same time. 2/
This is why I believe that nurses must have education beyond how to provide hospital-based care. Nurses must learn to critically and deeply think, evaluate, and reflect. This understanding cannot just come from nurse educators who also need to broaden their understanding. 3/
Read 7 tweets

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