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Racist nursing textbook shows how different minority groups handle pain. Twitter is horrified.

Racist nursing textbook shows how different minority groups handle pain. Twitter is horrified.


In today's episode of racist bullsh*t that could and should have been avoided: a page from a nursing textbook published by Pearson is making the rounds on Twitter today. And sadly not because everyone suddenly wants to get in to nursing.

The heading reads "Diversity and Culture" (already off to an awkward start) and it lays out, in detail, how various religious, racial and ethnic groups respond to pain. It's.....painful.


If you're curious, the book is called Nursing: A Concept-Based Approach to Learning, Volume I and it's on Amazon if you'd like to leave a review. It includes extremely dubious "facts" about different groups of people, including that black people lie about their pain intensity, Hispanic people are either "stoic" or "expressive" (umm, like all people?) and Jewish people are "vocal and demanding of assistance." And while, sure, that last one may be 100% true of my grandma, it's false not to mention dangerous in a medical setting to treat people based on assumptions and stereotypes.

As this point you might be thinking, "okay, slow your roll, this book was probably created in the 1950's when people didn't have the education and awareness they have today." NOPE. IT WAS CREATED IN 2015. TWO YEARS AGO.

The page was first brought to public attention by wellness advocate Onyx Moore, who shared it on Facebook on Monday, explaining that it's the perfect example of "how not to be even remotely culturally sensitive":

Moore writes:

This is an excellent example of how not to be even remotely culturally sensitive. These assumptions are not evidence-based, they encourage nurses to ignore what a patient is actually saying (if someone tells you their pain level is high, you need to believe them), they list common behaviors as culturally specific (most people are more comfortable being honest about their pain with family members/those close to them), and they don't actually teach nurses how to engage in a CULTURALLY SENSITIVE way.

This chart lumps together various groups whose belief-systems vary widely. Native Americans are not a monolithic group, so you can't make a generic list of what is culturally sensitive to them. Asia is a huge country and the chart completely glosses over that while leaving out countless groups in an attempt to convey the message quickly. If they are including African people under Black, then they're intentionally shoving together a whole host of groups with different cultural customs; if they're not including them under Black, then they just completely ignored an entire portion of patients. Jewish/Muslim can be both ethnicities or religions, so what happens if a Black Jew comes in? Or a Black Muslim?

And she concludes:

If you want to be culturally sensitive, then you need to actually LEARN about other cultures. If a patient tells you their pain level, believe them- because *they* are the expert on their body. As a medical professional, your job is to provide medical care, the patient's job is to convey their symptoms; when in doubt err on the side of better treatment, not disbelief.

The clip from the handbook was shared by Massachusetts resident Kelly Hills on Twitter, where it went viral. "HOLY SHIT!" she wrote, and tagged the publishing company. "Pearson actually published this racist bullshit in a nursing textbook."

She followed up with this thread to clarify why the book is not only wrong but potentially dangerous:

Kelly's tweet has been shared over 2,000 times since yesterday. And other people are calling out the handbook on Twitter, drawing more viral attention:

Apparently this last tweet got Pearson's attention, and they responded with this tepid apology:

And today, Pearson's beleaguered social media person (or perhaps Mr. or Mrs. Pearson him or herself), is apparently trying to fix the problem:

Uhhh, okay. Good luck with that!

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