Ohio State Makes Nursing Students Learn About White Privilege, Police Brutality

Blake Neff | Reporter

A mandatory webinar for students studying nursing at Ohio State University (OSU) teaches police have “assaulted” racial minorities in the U.S. for generations, and that middle class white nurses will give lower-quality care to poor non-whites.

The webinar, titled “Naming and Addressing Racism: A Primer,” is a mandatory component of “Cultural Competence in Health Care: U.S. and Global Contexts,” a required course for nursing students, according to Campus Reform. It doesn’t appear to be unique to OSU, as it was created by the American Public Health Association (APHA) last July for use across the country.

According to students who took the webinar, the lessons dwell at some length on the various indignities and “microaggressions” suffered by non-whites in the U.S. every day — whether its extra attention from shopkeepers who fear shoplifting or indifference from waiters who expect to be stiffed on tips. Some aspects of the webinar can be gleaned from its slideshows, available online.

“All communities have been assaulted by police for generations. Now that we have cell phones, we’re learning more about it,” says Morehouse School of Medicine associate professor Camara Phyllis Jones, who appears in the webinar.

At another point during a post-webinar question and answer session, APHA president Shiriki Kumanyika said the best way for whites to address racism in society is to “use your white privilege, but you need to realize you can’t shed your white privilege.”

In addition to the webinar, students told Campus Reform they had to spend several weeks reading articles about how non-whites, homosexuals and the poor were discriminated against by the medical system. One article allegedly said that middle-class white nurses could be expected to give lower-quality care to non-white patients.

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

Regina Moss, APHA’s associate executive director, deflected claims of bias back at OSU.

“Our mission is to improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status,” Moss told Campus Reform. “What content individual faculty deem as requirements in their courses and syllabi is a matter of academic freedom.”

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