ANA President, Dr. Ernest Grant, shared a crucial community message. In Racism, Brutality, and Senseless Violence Against Black Communities, he stated, “I have a deeper moral vision for society, one in which we have a true awareness about the inequities in our country which remain the most important moral challenge of the 21st century.” To add to Dr. Grant’s statement, the time for action is long overdue, and nurses are called upon as a moral imperative of our profession to respond  in this moment as the community leaders we are.

Nurses have a professional responsibility to stand up to the systemic racism that manifests itself at every step of our patients’ interactions within the health care system. From the moment of entry through the hospital or clinic doors, and often even before assessment, racial and ethnic minorities face prejudice and discrimination in the assessment of needs and allocation of services: urgency of care, quality of care, and funding for care. We see the results of these decades-long practices in the destructive toll of COVID-19 on communities of color: these cannot be denied. Nurses cannot abide these circumstances within vulnerable communities. We have an obligation, embodied in our Code of Ethics, to uphold our professional standards, and guide future health leaders to elevate and amplify the call for justice in health provision, and ultimately, for health equity.

In recent days, we have witnessed the White Coats for Black Lives, and hundreds of other health care professionals across the country holding silent protests to demand major police reform. We see you; we hear you; and we stand with you, always, and at every point when nurses speak up for justice. We must respond when we witness acts of racism and discrimination. Silence is compliance. Our patients depend on and trust us, so we must live up to their expectations and advocate for respect and human dignity. We ask you to use your voice, practice, and vote to stop the systemic racism and say, “enough is enough.”

The American Nurses Association-Illinois (ANA-Illinois) stands in solidarity with those seeking justice and accountability for acts of racial violence. We condemn the police brutality that led to the murder of George Floyd and offer our deepest sympathies to his loved ones. We condemn the countless acts of violence the Black community endures. As nurses, we save lives, promote health, and ensure dignity at the end of life. Therefore, we call upon Illinois nurses to take actions to protect Black lives. The streets of the protests, and the communities living in despair, with their unanswered calls for justice, are our practice environments. We must be agents for positive change that promotes a dignified quality of life for everyone. This is our purpose and calling.