Friday, March 18, 2011

The Race Card Conundrum

I consider myself as apolitical and as color blind as one can get and I try to follow rules as it applies to everyone, but when a charge of racism is lodged on me albeit on a miniscule scale, I just bristle and have to speak out about it in my little platform here. So let me tell you what I’m talking about (it’s not as if you are here to stop me, LOL!).
 At work, we have scheduled smoke breaks 5 times a day, however when we get a new admission specially in the middle of the night, we allow the new patient to go outside to smoke out of the scheduled times before they go to bed. This is a one-time only courtesy for new admissions. Last Wednesday night, we had a new Caucasian patient who just came in and the staff took him out to the patio to smoke. Another patient who had been there for already two days and who happened to be black, noticed this and began demanding that he too be taken out to smoke. We explained to him the behavioral unit policy regarding scheduled smoke breaks and the courtesy smoke break for new patients. The black patient responded that the reason why we took the new patient to smoke was because he was white! I told him we would have done the same thing for him if he was a new admission, but he wouldn’t accept that reasoning. He proceed to complain to the charge nurse who also gave him the same reasons I did but the patient continued to claim racism. Now how can you respond to that?! I’m even more of a minority in this country than he is after all, and I’ve never complained about being racially discriminated upon. The patient continued to raise a stink continually using the race card and asked the charge nurse for a complaint form, then asked for my name so he could include it in his complaint. In the first place, it was not up to me to override whatever policy the unit had because I’m a mere mental health worker and at the bottom of the totem pole as far as the hierarchy of positions go. That was why I referred him to the charge nurse. I don’t exactly know why this patient was focusing so much on me since I was communicating with him as respectfully as I could. We happened to have another patient being admitted who was black, and he was also taken out to smoke. You would think that the complaining patient would have understood what we were talking about. But nooooo! The racial discrimination accusations continued, so in the end, the charge nurse decided to allow him to smoke to defuse the situation. Other patients noticed this and they also happened to be smokers and that would have created a problem because they could also have complained why allow one patient to smoke outside of scheduled times and not them. We lucked out this time because the other patients did not demand equal treatment as the one who complained of racism. By the way, those other patients also happened to be black. I can only hope that the complainer was only one of a few who still complain of being oppressed because of his color even if it was not justified. Some people will just claim whatever they can just to get what they want. This is the kind of behavior which hopefully, I’m enlightened enough to limit myself to not liking the person rather than the whole race. He surely showed a very bad example of manipulation. I just didn’t like the whole racial discrimination claim is all I’m saying.
After getting what he wanted, he talked to the charge nurse again and asked him to throw away his complaint, then he approached me and said he didn’t mean what he said before. I reiterated that this was not about color and he denied using the race card. That folks, is classic manipulative behavior. Did I mention that this patient just got out of jail and was wearing a tracking device on his ankle? Well, perhaps that’s beside the point…
Any of you who read this have any thoughts on the matter?

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Sophie-Chantal said...

Well, he's in the mental ward for some reason! Sorry you had to deal with that Noel.

Noel DLP said...

True, true, Sophie, thank you. There are are a lot of patients who have real mental health problems and others like that guy who is there because he managed to manipulate the system.