Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Recentering the Margins: Decolonizing Nursing Through the History and Stories of African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) Nurses (#44)

Melissa Crump 1
  1. Uvic, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Mary Mahoney, Mary Seacole, Estelle Osborne, and Susie Taylor. Names that are often unrecognizable to nurses, however, each one of these individuals has made considerable contributions to nursing and nursing practice. Yet, these women never made it into the nursing history books. Instead, their stories were erased, rendering them non-existent.

As a Black nurse in Canada, my story is often omitted, and my voice never reaches the decision-making table. Instead, I lobby for health equity from the margins. Bell Hook (1989) explains that the margins are unsafe but allow for profound change and radical openness. Nurses can recenter the margins through decolonization and rewriting erased stories.

This presentation will discuss strategies to move nurses from paralysis to action around decolonizing self, nursing and nursing education. The first step towards decolonization is the de-erasure of the past. While vanishing people from documents and photographs is a well-known form of symbolic violence, nursing's approach isn't as noticeable but a similar phenomenon. We will defend the thesis that learning about the history of Black nurses' and their contributions in and to nursing is central to the personal and systemic changes necessary to remove the blinders of colonization and create genuine inclusive care.

We will use frameworks from Bell Hooks and Kimberle Crenshaw to disrupt the systems of oppression in dominant culture, creating visibility of the structures and ways of being that perseverate racism, white supremacy and colonization. We will discuss how the erased histories of Black women in nursing are a product and a driver of racism, impacting all people's health today. Finally, we will explore how anti-oppressive methodologies, such as critical race theory, intersectionality, anti-racism, and Black feminist theory, can be mobilized to address power dynamics, hierarchies and racism in the decolonization of nursing.