The civil rights movement of the 60's might be over half a century in our rear view, but how far have we really come?
A nurse's case against a medical center in Flint, MI again reminds us that the society in which we live is hardly color blind.
Tonya Battle has filed a lawsuit against Hurley Hospital for being barred from taking care of an infant patient because she is African American. Battle claims that the newborn’s father made the request to her supervisor shortly after showing off a swastika of some kind. The suit also alleges that the supervisor informed Battle that the request had been granted, and a note was placed in the patient’s chart instructing staff to follow such orders.
The Michigan Chronicle spoke with Reverend Charles Williams II, Senior Pastor at Historic King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, MI. Williams is the President for the Michigan branch of Al Sharpton's National Action Network. He shared his thoughts on the matter.
“The case is without a shadow of doubt, racism and discrimination. The hospital needs to own up and take responsibility. Don’t be so arrogant and blame the employees.”
Hurley Hospital has denied the lawsuit's claim that it upheld the father’s request for more than a month.
Battle's case has taken the media by storm, reintroducing the issue of discrimination into the national conversation. In the era of our country's first black president, it's easy for Americans to mask over what continues to plague minorities. Some who've experienced injustice even have trouble gathering the courage to speak up for fear of the backlash they might face.
"No one wants to call out discrimination, and put him or herself in the hot seat, so it's obvious that something happened, and it's a real problem", said Reverend Williams.
Tonya Battle might be the first to publicly do so, however, she is not the only one to come forward against the medical center. Since last week's episode, the Michigan office for the National Action Network has received numerous calls-in to report incidences of discrimination at Hurley Hospital.
"We must support her. The reality is, it happened. Bottom line, she is right and the community needs to show their support for Battle", said Williams.
The factor that complicates Battle's case is that the father's request was allegedly "de facto" upheld by the hospital. Members of staff agreed to meet his demands, then later lied about it. If it's not true, can we find one African American that took care of the baby?
Individuals are eager to discover the outcome and its final ruling. Reverend Williams expressed what he hopes to see happen as a result of Battle's decision to come forward.
"The hospital needs to implement sensitivity training to heighten cultural competency. Workers should have immediately called the social worker when the father made that request."
Why weren't social workers called? Many argue that there have been cases in which staff reported false claims and ones much less serious than the incident at Hurley Hospital. Meeting the demands of the father compromised the security of the child. If it proves true, the staff was willing to give less care to avoid having to provide the family with a black nurse.
"Those who supervised and were involved in implementing the directives must be disciplined", said Williams.
Tonya Battle has stayed away from all media since the incident. Due the sensitive nature of the case and its legal implications, very little can be discussed publicly. Reverend Williams has nevertheless, expressed the National Action Network's support for Battle.
"The hospital needs to sit down with Ms. Battle. The attorneys need to get together and reach a settlement so that she is taken care of. Her claim has enough evidence and seriousness that the hospital should be willing to do whatever she asks."
On Monday, Feb. 25 at 11 a.m., the National Action Network will hold a public demonstration to demand action on the grounds of Hurley Hospital in Flint, MI.
“We are praying for her, lifting her up. We take it very seriously, and we support her. We call on the community to do the same", said Williams.
The National Action Network Michigan meets every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Historic King Solomon Baptist Church, 6100 14th Street, Detroit MI 48208. Members of the community are encouraged to attend if they have any questions, concerns, or wish to report incidents of discrimination.
For more information, visit www.nationalactionnetwork.net.
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