Ep31: Nurses: Champions for Social and Racial Justice

About Nurse Champions for Justice

Nurse Champions for Justice 

We focus on the heart felt work of unlearning racism, uncovering the many forms of oppression that exists—seen and unseen, and working to disrupt systems of racism and oppression towards creating a healthy environment where all can be free and thrive, within a supportive and loving community.


Nikki Akparewa, MSN, RN, MPH is the Founder of Transform Nursing and is a subject matter expert in diversity and inclusion work. As a Diversity & Inclusion Coach for over 10 years, Nikki’s vision is to coach health care leaders using inclusive leadership strategies.  Nikki is an expert on promoting individual & organizational growth by navigating difficult conversations around race, class and other social barriers that health care leaders need to learn to deliver safe and compassionate care.


Jayne Peterson, BSN, RN, NC-BC is a Board Certified Nurse Coach and Accredited 5Rhythms® Movement Practice teacher with a nursing career spanning nearly 40 years. She is passionate about teaching inner resource skills and embodiment practices that connect one to their natural healing abilities and innate wisdom. Jayne specializes in facilitating body-centered ways of experiencing, knowing and living into one’s whole self.


Jackie Levin, RN, MS, AHN-BC, HNWC-BC is a second generation Jewish American cisgender lesbian woman of European ancestry, married to a man. As the Founder of Leading Edge Nursing and a Board Certified Holistic Nurse and Wellness Coach her core work is bringing Nurses into nature-based experiences, tapping into the unseen world for healing self and offering mindfulness practices for health and wellbeing.



Ep31: Nurses: Champions for Social and Racial Justice Highlights

“Change first starts with each one of us as individuals, and we can’t be better Nurses or Nurse Coaches, if we’re not aware of our own biases, if we’re not aware of defensiveness, or those feelings of guilt, or fear, or whatever that comes up when we really do this work. Then we can’t really get to the place where we’re going to be able to help our patients be healthier.”

~Nikki Akparewa, MSN, RN, MPH

“Jump in now, wherever, whatever calls to you, maybe there’s a book group in your community. Join us at Nurse Champions for Justice. Just pick up a book and start reading. Get some podcasts and listen to other people’s voices. Listen with that openness and curiosity. Just start. Now, start now.”

~Jayne Peterson, BSN, RN, NC-BC

“In talking about racism as a European descendant, white bodied person is the shame, the shame growing up in a racist country. All kinds of shames that we have. Shame prevents us from being authentic, because we have to hide, if we don’t want people to know, our areas of shame, or our areas of vulnerability, we have to hide. This work helps us unpack that.”

~Jackie Levin, RN, MS, AHN-BC, HNWC-BC


  • The American Nurses Association defines racism as a public health crisis
  • Racial justice work is heavy lifting and must be combined with self-care
  • Racial justice work requires community, authentic conversation, deep listening and a willingness to be unbalanced
  • To truly care for all humans, we must first look into our own selves to understand our own biases, hidden agendas, fears, guilt, defensiveness and social structures that perpetuate health inequity
  • Begin now, in whatever way calls to you, to learn about diversity, inclusion and equity
  • Address your Board of Nursing to demand racial justice learnings be incorporated into licensure
  • Address your workplace to demand racial justice education for all employees

Resources and Links

94% of Nurses Say There’s Racism in Healthcare: Survey Medscape

Nurse Champions for Justice Membership

Nikki Akwarpea’s book: The Clinicians Guide to Microaggressions and Unconscious Bias

Valarie Kaur, Revolutionary Love Project https://valariekaur.com/revolutionary-love-project/

Resmaa Menakem

Ijeoma Umebinyuo.  “Questions for Ada”

Decolonizing Poetry: an interview with Ijeoma Umebinyuo                                                               

The Ijeoma Project by Ijeoma Umebinyuo on Audible



Ep31: Nurses: Champions for Social and Racial Justice Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:01

Welcome, everyone to Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! My name is Nicole Vienneau. I am your host, and I’m also a board certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And today it is very, very thrilling because we are inviting the CO curators of Nurse Champions for Justice. We have Nikki, Jane and Jackie in the house today.

And I know this is a topic Nurses want to know about want to hear from experts in the field, but also realizing that we’re all learning together and coming together. And I think this podcast is going to be an amazing opportunity for us all to gain deeper understanding of how we are living in the world. So I welcome I welcome Nikki and welcome Jane and Jackie to the podcast.

Nikki Akparewa  00:56

Thank you so much for having us. I think we’re really super excited to be here together. We love doing this work together. So thank you so much.

Nicole Vienneau  01:04

Yes, thank you so much. So just for our listeners, we’d love to get to know our guests a little bit, just from a personal professional kind of way. So I’d love for each of you to just maybe tell us how you found Nursing. What drew you into Nursing?

Jayne Peterson  01:20

Yeah, I’m Jane, I’ll start and I came into Nursing in a very practical way. I’m 59. In my day, it was kind of limited choices for college and what you would do and I had an desire to travel, I wanted to travel and there was two year Nursing degrees.

And it looked very practical that I could become a Nurse that I could travel and I could, you know, support myself. It just it was very practical. At heart. I’m a caring person. But I have to honestly say my choice of Nursing was practical and this is a profession that will meet my needs.

Nikki Akparewa  02:05

This is Nikki, Nikki Akapaewa. And my story is really kind of fun, actually. Because I thought I was going to go to medical school, I was on board to doing that.  I had completed just about all of the coursework that was required for medical school.  I met a Nurse who was in Nursing school, she was a Nursing student, Native American.

And she was working with her tribes out in Seattle, Washington area. And she was working with the teenage moms in her tribe. And I said, I said, “you can do that?  You can do that as a Nurse, that’s possible?” And she said “yes”.  And I dropped everything I was doing for medical school related work and switch to Nursing because I really wanted to do community public health Nursing. So, thank you for asking that question. Because I love that story.

Jackie Levin  02:55

This is Jackie. And thanks, Nikki. We’ve been working together now for a few years and I never heard that. That’s so awesome. I was you know, I had no idea of becoming a Nurse. There was no there was no real interest. In my mind. I was actually a hippie Vermonter I was farming. I was I was on a volunteer ambulance service for many, many years.  And I wanted to do hospice volunteering.

And a friend of mine who was a surveyor and also on the ambulance had just completed his first year of Nursing school and he said, Oh, well then you should become a hospice Nurse Jackie. So that’s where I went to school was to do hospice Nursing. And also a lot of my friends in Vermont, they saw acupuncturist, they saw herbalist they actually psychics for their health care had their babies at home with lay midwives.

And I saw that I wanted that there was a need to be a bridge between the Eastern and Western kind of different ways of approaching health. And that’s why I went to Nursing school to become a hospice Nurse.

Nicole Vienneau  04:01

I love the stories. I love the stories of how we all decided to become a Nurse and the journeys to that, right?  So amazing!  And that makes me think about, how in the world did you all three, come together and find each other and living in different places and coming together to do the work at Nurse Champions for Justice?

Jayne Peterson  04:23

For me, it was a social media fluke, I saw a presentation that Nikki was giving. I went to her presentation, and I think in the comments maybe I saw Jackie or maybe Nikki mentioned that she knew a Nurse out in the Northwest where I live named Jackie.

And I said Jackie Levin, I know Jackie and then it so it turned out we all three, were kind of talking not with each other but to Nikki and each other. It was kind of like wow; we want to start working together. We want to get together.

Nikki Akparewa  04:55

Yeah, that’s how it happened. And it’s I was just looking for people who were interested in the work of racial Justice, you know, that was sort of at the beginning of my reaching out to Nurses to, you know, find interest.

And these two beautiful women came along, who had this huge, huge burning passion.  And when you find that, and you connect to people that are like that, it really does feel like lifelong connections. And so that was, that was exactly how we met. And it was beautiful. We’ve been going strong ever since.

Jayne Peterson  05:33

We hosted a half day workshop in our in my community, called ‘Unpacking Racial Justice’, because Nicki travels to Olympia to visit family about once a year. So that was how we kind of started our official reaching out to people and Nurses and healthcare professionals together unpacking racial Justice.

Jackie Levin  05:55

And being Nurse Coaches and being holistic Nurses, we also brought in the passion for self-care, knowing how essential that is in just daily life. But really, when you’re doing racial justice work, it’s really important, and we incorporate that.

And we also had a very similar, although slightly different approach, that we co created in the enter these healing space dialogues that we wanted to create a space for people of all backgrounds to come together that was safe, exploratory, and was creating a space for vulnerability. So we could learn, grow, stretch, in the work of racial justice, anti-racism work together.

Nikki Akparewa  06:43

And I’ll add on to that just a little bit, we found it really important to be on a platform that was outside of Facebook, or some of the other sort of channels that people generally, you know, speak to, and we know that there is volume in Facebook, we recognize and appreciate that. However, you know, speaking to what Jackie, you know, is saying, we were looking to create a deeper adapt to what we were doing.

And we realize that in the in Facebook communities, it can be really, sometimes difficult to create that depth. Because when you make comments and you can’t feel the emotion behind them, it can be really, it’s up for interpretation, right? Whereas in this community where we’re in, in the mighty networks, the way we’ve co constructed it, I would say, has really given so much voice and choice to all of our members.

And if there’s, you know, things that we want to talk about, we’ve created that, as Jackie said, that safety where we can really talk about things in a really a really deep way. And that’s, that’s a part of the work that I find so valuable, and so important to each one of us, because we all are a part of this work, right? We all need to be in this, doing this work. It’s not just for White body people. It’s not just for Brown and Vulnerable communities, it’s for all of us.

And so we wanted to create that space so everyone could find you know, their growth points and really, you know, work towards growing even more.

Nicole Vienneau  08:18

So, when people are looking for you Nurse Champions for Justice, what can they expect?

Jayne Peterson  08:26

Well, our members or subscriber community has kind of a core function of a monthly healing space dialogue. So, when you join our community, once a month, we do hold a 90 minute healing space dialogue that has a self-care component, a little bit of an education component, some deep inquiry, through journaling through a free write.

And then a large portion of sharing of showing up and sharing whatever you’re comfortable sharing in the moment there’s no pressure to read your journaling or anything else but it’s a very deeply held container for inquiry, deep reflective inquiry and then sharing and community and practicing vulnerability and bravery together.

We also offer a weekly Monday prompt that’s all over the board in terms of reflection and education cop sometimes comes from the news sometimes comes from Nursing articles sometimes comes from poetry and art. But that’s kind of like a habit building sequence where just every Monday, you know that there’s going to be a drop of something that you can kind of read and percolate on that week. And then we encourage people to you know, share, and reflect responses what awoke for them in that prompt.

So, in a way it’s kind of bringing in that of in making change that practice of habits and kind of having a rhythm around. Creating health and you know; social justice work and anti-racism work is about creating health. It’s about wellness.

Nikki Akparewa  10:08

That inspires me the way you say that it is about wellness, right? I appreciate that, Jane, because I feel like sometimes people run away from racial justice work, because it is heavy work, right? It’s heavy lifting, we cannot be in this space and not say that it is not heavy lifting.

And the way that we lift is very, we’re really mindful, right, we’re really mindful of the fact that there is self-care that needs to be integrated in this work for the individual, for each one of us, as well, as, you know, helping to teach Nurses about that.

And we also know that Nurses are historically notoriously sort of not great at self-care, right, we know that as well, that we fall into that place of just wanting to do for so many other people that we don’t, you know, take time to do for ourselves. And so, in our community, we really do want people to know and understand that this is their process, you know, there’s, you know, to own for all of us to help, you know, carry our parts, but we want people to know how important it is, you know, to integrate wellness into what we’re doing.

So, as Jayne was saying, oftentimes, in our healing space, when we have the community with us, we just do some, and I’d love for Jayne to sort of describe to some of the things that she does, but we just give space, we create space to just move, right to just breathe, to just process. And all of that. All of that is a part of, you know, how we support Coaching and how we think, and the lens that we look at Coaching. So, I love, I love that you said that about wellness, because that comes to my mind too. When I think about the work that we do.

Jackie Levin  12:00

Yeah, and I just had this flash, one of the things that we three spoke about and became committed to as we were developing Nurse Champions for Justice, was that we were not going to be following the oppressive urgency, perfectionism of White supremacy, culture of capitalism of patriarchy, we were working to decolonize ourselves tissue, some of those words, that I’m still learning how to digest, absorb, and dismantle in myself.

I don’t remember who was doing the monthly prompt, and I said something like, “Oh, I feel so bad. I didn’t get to respond to the monthly prompt”. And Nikki says, “No guilt.”  No guilt, there’s no pressure. There’s no should. We show up as we can, as we are able, and we work to not judge ourselves. And we really don’t judge each other. So that we can honestly begin to reflect inward, where do I hold certain beliefs that are part of the White supremacy culture? Where do I hold those beliefs that I have, and these exist in healthcare?

I mean, this is what healthcare is founded on. So even my workspace, what this group and this time together that we’ve spent over the last few years and these Monday prompts, thinking, digesting, reflecting, has been a way to go back to my work place and begin to address these issues with leaders.

Like you’re asking me to do something, but you don’t say what its priority is, what its timeframe is. What is the urgency? When it comes from my boss, everything is urgent, I reflect back to her. So, I will reflect to you when do you need this by? Where does this fall on the priority list. But that comes from this work of really knowing how to honor you know, being human, really quite frankly.

Nicole Vienneau  14:16

You all have me very curious, and I’m sure our listeners are too. Like, could you share a prompt?  Like what could get us percolating and thinking as we, you know, when we finish up here, what can we think about?

Jayne Peterson  14:30

I’ve got the prompt. I’ve got a prompt from this past week. We’ve been doing poetry this month, and I learned about this poet at the ANA conference Ijeoma Umebinyuo. And the prompt this week a was a piece of her poetry and the poetry is, “you are not alive to please the aesthetic of the colonized eye”.  So, “you are not alive to please the aesthetic of the colonized eye”. And so the encouragement was to reflect on that. To notice what, what does that? What does that awaken in you? Are you contracting? Are you? I don’t know.

For me personally, it brought up a new AHA of, I can remember traveling in my 20s in Morocco, and kind of staring at other people. I mean, not what I would consider rudely, but gazing, especially at the women and their hijabs and their covering, and also noticing how uncomfortable I felt when men would stare at me in Western dress, and, you know, not being covered.

But what I recognized, you know, after being immersed in this work, one of the invisibles that I hadn’t yet seen about myself was that in my White bodied supremacy, environment lens is that I sort of felt like I had a right to gaze, that I had a right to look like, you know? I’m here traveling and I kind of have a right to look. And then I can look for similarities. And I can look for differences and all judging through my lens of how my world works.

And I’m Central, I’m Central, that worldview is centered through me. And at that, just that poem, just really like landed in a way I’ve never actually discovered that thought about myself. Before that I, I have a right to look. I don’t have a right to look. I don’t have a right, a God given right. To look, let’s start very humanly, that’s not a that’s not a sign of human respect. And again, I’m not shaming and guilting myself, or going off into an oh, I’m so bad. It’s just like, whoa, that’s like something that’s just been woven into, by being that, that we learn to unpack and unravel by immersing in this space. Yeah.

Nikki Akparewa  17:35

And I’ll piggyback on that, because I really appreciate just again, as a reminder, and Nurse Champions for Justice, we look for depth, right, we seek this place of just like, what are the things that we don’t typically look at, right? What are the things that we look at and look away from? Or, you know, what are the things that we just generally don’t question, the very fact that you would question something like that, of being centered, right, as a White bodied American person or just American? That’s important.

That’s important to think about how are we centered period in the world?  We tend to think of ourselves as better than whether we consciously think about it or not. And so, then what we do is take that next step, and we say, well, what does that do then? For or to the people that we work with? Or serve, right?

We try to take those looks that we’re doing inward, and then focus them outward and ask for those questions of how does this actually impact us, as Nurses, as caretakers, as people, as folks who are responsible for our patients or our clients? Right?

Like the work here is really to, in a lot of ways D-center that sense of. I am right, you know, I am right, and what I’m doing so we work a lot at you know, just playing around with those margins of, Am I? Should I? Could I right? We ask questions, we asked really good questions of ourselves and each other, so that we can do this work more effectively. And I think that the fact that we have the community, you know, that comes together as well, to ask these questions and then to bring their issues as well.

You know, we bring our issues that we’re dealing with, whether at work or at home, or sometimes we just have moments of just, I’m so frustrated. I just need somebody to know how frustrating this is and to seek support. And I can say for me, you know, as a woman of Color, as a Nurse of Color, that this community is really affirming of who I am and that It’s important to me, right. And as a Black woman, I can tell you as a, you know, a Black Nurse, having worked for 16-17 years or so now, I’ve had so many instances of covert racism, not overt racism, but covert, right?

Like where it was just sort of pervasive, right, just sort of socially acceptable things that were done in Nursing, right, the way we treat people or don’t the way folks are invisible when we don’t want to see them. And then very visible, right, when, when we don’t want them to be seen. So, I’ve had many experiences where I’m like, gosh, Nursing is not for me. And I can tell you that there are many other Black and brown and vulnerable and etc, it goes on groups that feel that way, where they’re like, do I belong to this profession, because so many people have made me feel like I don’t belong here.

And as you know, as we all know, Nursing is predominantly a White female, you know, profession. And so there’s ways that women, you know, engage in some ways to sort of make it seem like, you really don’t belong here, though. And so I’ve had, so many of those things happen for so long that at some point, you just say, this is just what it is, this is just that I’m not going to find, you know, this is just the best, but it’s going to be, but being in this group, and this community, it is such a…

I don’t know if I should say this, but you know, as a woman, I want to say, and you can edit this out if you want to, you know, when you come home, you just want to take your bra off. I have, you know, that feeling that feeling to come into this space into this community and just be like, ‘Oh, I can actually just be me, for real for real, I can let my hair down’.

And that’s what I love about it. That’s what I love. And that’s what I want people to know, about this place. It’s not just, you know, as talking it’s as being together, right? It’s us practicing our humanity, one with another.

Nicole Vienneau  22:12

Yeah, I love this. Because sometimes being human with each other is about taking your bra off and letting it all hang out. This is how we are. So let’s just be together. Yeah, I love that. Thank you for sharing that. I will not edit that out, it is great!

So, I was on your website. And I read this, just this little phrase, …according to the ANA in January 2022 National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing. Quote, 94% of us Nurses know that there’s either a lot, or some racism in our profession. And I would just love your thoughts on this.

Nikki Akparewa  23:03

Okay, all right. Well,

Jayne Peterson  23:06

I can go. I don’t have to put this on you, Nikki. I mean, that’s, that’s one of the issues of racism, isn’t it? We expect our People of Color to teach us, we expect them to teach us we expect them to talk first. And that’s kind of like this continued free labor on the backs of the people who suffer? And who are treated not fairly.

So. Yeah, 94% of Nurses know, there’s a problem. We just we don’t know what to do. And I think I’m, I’m talking from the White bodied lens, because that’s the culture and environment I come from, I think of myself as this progressive, nice loving White woman who doesn’t ever want to create harm, I don’t want to hurt anyone. And I think Nursing inherent, and Nursing is this sense that, you know, we’re kind of we remain neutral. You know, we don’t get involved.

We just, we’re caring, and we teach and it’s like this sense and maybe because we’re so you know, such a profession of women too. And you know, there’s an inherent kind of patriarchy or lack of feeling empowered in that sense, too. So, we kind of do the work but we’re nice, we’re nice people.

We don’t hurt people. And we don’t know what to do we feel kind of powerless what to do so we’re just gonna keep being nice. Just keep being friendly and I’m not really hurting anybody in what I do. And I you know, I’m kind and I’m and you know, how I really got invited into this work was, you know, really a moment of grace of again, being my progressive, loving, kind, nice White lady person.

And um, A colleague had shared a few experiences of her personal experiences of racist Nursing.  In the first few times, I was really curious and interested. And then like, the third or fourth time I was maybe like, huh, I noticed getting a little defensive, like, really is it that bad, you know, or like, really? And luckily, I just like, I got curious about that defensiveness, I mean, that’s one of the things that we do is we deflect, and we judge, and we rationalize, and we say it can’t possibly be like that.

But instead, I call that a moment of grace. I just was like, What’s this defensiveness about Jayne? What’s going on here? You know, and that really just dropped me into wanting to, to read about White privilege. to learn about White fragility, to increase my knowledge about social Justice and racial Justice.

So and also that kind of supremacy culture that Jackie was talking about that culture, corporate culture, you know, that incivility of, you know, kind of that on a conference, this was brought up Nurses eat their young, there’s, well, what is that I mean, that’s like the supremacy thing, that’s a better than thing we keep, we keep pushing and Nurses of Color, you know, experience that incivility every day, multiple times a day that we might as White body Nurses do to each other, on a weekly or monthly or whatever basis, but it’s a culture of incivility.

And I mean, we all know what’s there, but we’re not talking about it. Because we don’t know what to do, or we don’t really want to look inside of us, or, you know, we just have these deep filters to, you know, our brains protect us. And we just have these deep filters, where we just, I don’t know what to do. So, I’m not going to see it, or I’m not going to talk and you know, silence is violence, you know, we got to get past this, we got to get past the silence.

Jackie Levin  27:04

And I’d say, tagging from that off of that is, this is Jackie, is that this idea that when somebody does share with you, a Black or brown bodied person, person of Color, somebody from one of our Indigenous communities says, this happened to me, that our response is, “you know, I would like to be of help in this, I would like to see this be different. And I can share with you some things that I think I could or would or will do, and would you find that helpful.”

So, asking the person. not telling them, not asking them to tell you what to do, initially, but first, really establishing that you’re somebody who’s willing to do something, and then making sure that they feel that what you’re doing is not going to cause more harm. And, and they are the ones to be the judge of that.

So and what this community has done, our Nurse Champions for Justice has done is for me to be able to go back and say, I saw this, I witnessed this, I’m a little unclear about what to do. These are some of my ideas, what do you hear? If this is my first place of feeling safe, so that I don’t cause more harm? Then I can reach out to this group and I again want to say, Nikki spoke to this earlier of, of being away from that emotional space of Facebook, that is a reactive space a lot of times and that our community really is developing this thoughtfulness way of responding.

And again, as Coaches more than telling is to ask questions. ‘tell us more about that. What was going on inside you? What’s your sense of things’, so that we can get you know, that we can begin to, you know, become stronger in ourselves as we move forward out in the world around addressing racism.

Also is to recognize, you know, that patients know, you know, that when they experience something that is racist, and if we witness that, or if we find ourselves making some sort of assumption or an unconscious bias coming out, how do we pause that moment and say, “Well, I think that may not have come out, you know, well, or I’m sorry, that that that came out, wondering if we could start again?” Or “tell me about your experience from that so that we can become better at addressing this.”

As Nikki was reminding us at the beginning, when we did our little preshow connection was, you know, racism has been named a public health issue. And we need to be looking at it like that, as Coaches and as Nurses.

Nikki Akparewa  30:15

And I’ll jump in.  Those are beautiful and thoughtful responses. So, thank you, just to piggyback on that racism is a public health issue. And we’ve just really named it that way, like recently. But that’s good, because it gives us more motivation as healthcare professionals to address it as such. And what I mean by that is, we address it through the same mechanisms we do for any other type of learning and teaching, right.

So, when I was practicing, as a Nurse, we had to do annual reviews. So, every year, we had to, you know, review what we needed to do codes and trach care, et cetera, we had to review those things. This gives us a reason to actually integrate right to integrate teaching about social and racial Justice, not only for to bedside, acute care, whatever, in Nursing schools across the board.

I can tell you, when I started doing my work as a DI Coaching consultant, like seven years ago, I did come to Nurses to try to get Nurses involved in the work, it was my target audience, and I will tell you, this, Nurses were not ready or interested, nor was healthcare in general, but because I am a Nurse, that’s who I specifically sought out, I’m like, Oh, we’re so compassionate, we’re so you know, willing, we really want to care about our patients.

But when you get down to it, like right down to the bottom of it, people didn’t really have the tools or the time or anything. And then of course, two years ago, with, you know, the murder of George Floyd, everything changed on the national and global landscape, right, which forced everyone to shift their conversations. And now we have so much more to gain and so much more to lose, because it’s become a requirement. Right.

So, I don’t know if this is true for every state. But I know in the state of Maryland to, you know, relicense, or to, you know, to get your licensure, you have to take an implicit bias training. So that’s relatively new right here in this state.

And I’m really grateful for that these are, these are small steps towards actually really thinking about this at a systems level, which is where we also like to focus, we like to do it, you know, as individuals think of it as community and systems because ultimately, we know that this has to change across systems.

But change first starts with each one of us as individuals, and we can’t be better, you know, Nurses or Nurse Coaches, if we’re not aware of our own biases, if we’re not aware of defensiveness, or those feelings of guilt, or fear, or whatever that comes up when we need to really do this work, then we can’t really get to the place where we’re going to be able to, you know, help our patients be healthier.

And we know that here, we know that it Nurse Champions for Justice. And so, because we know that we really help people to really think through their own actions. And if they want to make changes, we’re not forcing anyone, that’s another thing. But if they really do want to be thoughtful, mindful, holistic practitioners, I think we give them some really great tools and stepping stones and support to really do that work. Right.

I think that’s the part that I really love about this is the support and the ability I can call Jackie or Jayne, you know, whoever I can call people and say, I need help with this. And I know that I have folks if they can’t help me directly, they want to and they’re willing to share the tools and resources that they have.

And that’s important, that’s important when you’re doing this level of work, because it’s not something that will happen like that. It’s not going to happen overnight. And I think we come to know that. And because we know that then we know that this is the part that we need that good communication, that foundational structure that we’re trying to lay really excites me.

Jayne Peterson  34:39

And change is always possible and happens.  I’m thinking of a member who when first joining our group was very, you know, concerned about confidentiality and that somebody might know her or you know, in order to feel safe to explore racial Justice stuff.

She really felt like she needed a strong, strong container of safety and you know, a year and three quarters later, I mean, she’s now the racial equity champion her organization. So, change happens when we start, you know, just learning and becoming aware about ourselves and our own stuff.

Nicole Vienneau  35:16

This is very powerful work you are all doing. We are all doing. There was another thing on your website. I just wanted to pull up because you’ve touched a little bit on this already. And, and I think it’s important for us all to, to understand that the process of change is difficult.

It’s just one little line that says. the work requires community, authentic conversation, deep listening, and a willingness to be unbalanced. And the word unbalanced really got me because, yes, this is unbalancing! It is shifting, how we’ve grown up, how we see our culture, everything. And so, I’m hoping you can shed some light on that and discuss that a little bit.

Jayne Peterson  36:07

I’m thinking of the movement piece. This is Jayne, you know, my sort of I would say expertise is kind of body ways of knowing and shifting and changing. So yeah, we’re disrupting the solid ground that we’ve been standing on for 400 plus years. We’re disrupting that and so the ground is kind of rollie, it’s kind of rollie, and so we, you know, we practice in self-care and in movement, you know.  We could all do that just for a minute is, you know, our bodies have capacity to come back to center.

So, you know, you can just right from where you’re sitting, you know, just let yourself fall off center for a minute. And just follow the organic movement, kind of back to center. You know, we have kind of a primal fear of this landscape being Oh, my God is not steady, it’s not steady, but look at, just look at our core strength, look at our capacity to just keep, I mean, isn’t that what our bodies do?

We come back into homeostasis, we come back into homeostasis, we can come back to finding a center amidst this disruptive time and culture. You know, that’s, that’s the self-care piece. That’s the Nurse Coach piece.

That’s the inherent Nursing piece is that you know, all healing is, you know, all healing comes from within, comes from within, you know, the body does the healing during the we make the best environment that we can and the body does the healing. So, we practice being comfortable with being in a disruptive space.

Nikki Akparewa  37:46

Yes, yes! I love the word that you’re using. I love disruptive. It’s so beautiful. I love that word. It’s so powerful. Because that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re disrupting things in our own system first, here first, and then we’re disruptors out there in the world. And the way that I think about it is, you know, we’re not all built to go and march, okay, not everybody is going to want to get out there and march and say, whatever it is that they want to say, don’t get me wrong, I’m, you know, I’m all for it.

And there are always ways that we can be disrupting, we don’t have to do it in one or two ways, right? There are so many different things that we can do. So, the very fact that we are even asking ourselves these very important and difficult questions about bias and stigma and the way we feel about, you know, people’s bodies, we’ve talked about all kinds of things being body positive, right, where we are here, embracing all of those, you know, those things that sit on the margins and our own lives, etc. That’s disruptive. That’s what helps us to grow. Right. That’s what helps us to rewire our brain.

So hopefully, when we do achieve that homeostasis again, we are just as comfortable and feeling balanced and walking on that tightrope. As we are when we are on shifting ground. We want to be able to, to practice that because that is so, so vital. I think to be able to be in boardrooms being in meetings, and places and spaces where you see something and you’re not 100% sure, you can say something.

We want to create that courage and that bravery to actually be able to speak to the things that we’re seeing so that we’re not bystanders. We’re not just watching. As you know, our colleagues suffer because we know it’s important for us to stand to be able to stand and to be solid. And so I think it’s just incredible that and it’s done so much for me.

So, it’s given me so much more confidence in speaking authentically, right? There’s been so many times where I can’t speak authentically, we’ve all had those experiences, right? Where we cannot be our authentic self. And that, but I am learning that I can be my authentic self, right here, in my home in this community, and I can be my authentic self in the world, too. Right? That’s a big, courageous step for me to take.

And I can tell you that in these past few years, I have said things and done things that have disrupted all kinds of things in me and don’t get me wrong, I felt the disruption ok, so I feel that unsteadiness, but when you have a community that you can come back to and say, I feel this, It just doesn’t feel so great. It’s I know, I did a big thing, and it doesn’t feel great.

Somebody catch me, somebody, somebody hold me, somebody tell me, you know, some, you know, say some words of encouragement, right? So, we have that. And that’s important.  That helps you to make, you know, make a mark and, and helps you to, to say I can, I can do this, I can actually I can do this. So, it feels it just feels really good. It really does.

Jackie Levin  41:25

I think on the sort of the flip side of that, and I guess for any person, but certainly in talking about racism as a European descendant White bodied person is the shame, the shame of being, you know, of growing up in a racist country of all kinds of shames that we have, I mean, shame prevents us from being authentic, because we have to hide, if we don’t want people to know, our areas of shame, or our areas of vulnerability, we have to hide.

And so this really is a space that has given me practice, especially with, well in every realm. But I really love our healing space dialogues, where we have the opportunity to have a prompt, and, write about it, so that we can go deeply in ourselves, we give ourselves about 10 minutes, we go off screen, but we stay together.

And we had a prompt recently about rage, we had as Nikki was describing about body image, what does brave look like or feel like looking at our perceptions of Black men when we see them in our communities? And the vulnerability honesty, and openness that people, myself included that we write about and come from. It’s like racism, and many other, you know, oppressions that we carry in invisibly within us that we if we don’t know.

It’s like that fine necklace that you left in your jewelry box. When you want to go wear it, it’s got like all these kinks and knots in it. And you start to spend some time slowly with that needle. That’s how I do it and trying to take care of one little knot in that chain. And slowly, slowly, things loosen up. And then until you can finally undo the knot and you have this necklace.

And I think of it that way that we’re untying knots, and that these knots become loose, and then they and then eventually, you know, to some degree, they, certainly I wouldn’t say they go away. But there’s an awareness and so that we can approach things differently.

Nicole Vienneau  44:07

Thank you so much for sharing. So, we have a few moments left. Before we share how to find you how we can join your group Nurse Champions for Justice. I would love for you or just to open it up to share something from your heart that you would like to share with Nurses, either about this work or joining you or anything like that, that may help someone.

Jayne Peterson  44:35

My first thing that I’d say.  Jump in now, wherever whatever calls to you, maybe there’s a book group in your community. Join us at Nurse Champions for Justice. I know our local library once a month as an anti-racism discussion group. I mean, just pick up a book and start reading. Get some podcasts and listen to other people’s voices.  Raise and listen with that openness and curiosity just start. Now, start now.

I love a quote by Ibram X. Kendi. He says, ‘like fighting an addiction being an antiracist requires persistence, self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination’. I mean, there’s, it’s just so deep, it’s in our DNA. There’s so much that’s invisible that we can’t even see yet. We just can’t see until we start kind of changing those glasses and those filters bit by bit. So, start now. Start now.

Nikki Akparewa  45:43

Oh, what a great question. This is Nikki. So yeah, I would just say to Nurses that. And this is just what I believe in my heart, I believe that Nurses can change healthcare in this country. We are the largest group of healthcare professionals at over 3 million strong even globally, I believe we’re the largest group of health care professionals, we have a lot of strength.

Now, let’s have a lot to say. Okay, let’s have a lot to say about racism. Let’s say no. Let’s say that we love our patients so much that we absolutely will not tolerate the fact that patients who tend to be people of Color are misdiagnosed under treated for pain, let’s say no, you know, to people who are living with chronic substance use issues, and we deny space on our brain for them, because we think of them as just they’re not able to ever be anything better than that, let’s say no to that type of thinking, right?

Let’s just start to say, notice and things that are getting in our way of being truly the best, the best, and the greatest group of healthcare professionals that walk the earth. That’s the way that I think of Nurses. And the other part to that is that let’s be willing to learn and grow.

You know, like Jayne is saying, let’s be willing to say I could learn something more. And I hope really, really hope that our Nursing institutions will strive harder to support the work of racial Justice by actually implementing more and better curriculum around it, that we do more when, you know, Nurses are working on the floors, to help them understand how to be better Nurse leaders through looking through the lens of racial equity, and helping our clinical instructors to teach right to teach and our Nurse Coaches to teach this work.

And I’ll say this, because I completely cannot go without saying this. But I published a workbook that really is for Nurses and have a workbook is called the Clinicians Guide to Micro Aggressions and Unconscious Bias. And it’s something that I did, because I really wanted Nurses to have the practical tools to be able to think about and address bias, whether it was just internally for self reflection or to teach it. So, my ebook is available on Amazon. And I would love for more Nurses to have conversation with me about what they’re learning around, you know, racial Justice. Thank you.

Jackie Levin  48:40

I do agree with both those things. I would add, also, I love what you said, Nikki, that about Maryland’s requirements for your Nursing, and I would say that I think we should all be addressing our Boards of Nursing, to make sure that this is part of our requirements, to get a license and to keep a license. And I also want to say that there’s a person that we’ve brought forward, her work, Valarie Kaur, Revolutionary Love, I consider this our act of love, and it’s revolutionary. And I think that we as Nurses could embrace this from that perspective.

Nicole Vienneau  49:36

Thank you for those words of wisdom from your hearts. I love that part. And thank you so much for being here and for having this conversation to help Nurses feel comfortable, more comfortable talking about it, and bringing it to light and then creating this space at Nurse Champions for Justice to really dive deep in and have these difficult conversations.

And as you all were talking about it, I was like, I have those feelings too and the safety that you’ve created within the group at Nurse Champions for Justice is safe is a harbor, is an opportunity for Nurses to come along and have these real conversations. So, thank you for creating this space, I am certainly going to share how people can find you at Nurse Champions for Justice, I will share the link in our show notes, https://nurse-Champions-for-Justice.mn.co/

And I hope that we will continue this conversation. And like you said, we can have these conversations in our own spaces, in our own time, and come together and do this, this hard work. So, thanks very much. And if there’s anything else you’d like to say, before we jump off, please feel free.

Nikki Akparewa  51:09

Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to share about the work that we do. Thank you for the work that you do as well. So, thank you so much.

Jayne Peterson  51:17

Yes, thank you very much.

Jackie Levin  51:17

I just love these women

Nikki Akparewa  51:22

braver, braver and braver.

Jayne Peterson  51:26

Yeah, there’s a lot of love in our community.

Nicole Vienneau  51:30

I feel the love. I feel it. I feel it. Well, thanks again, everyone.

Jayne Peterson  51:35

Thank you.

Jackie Levin  51:36

Thank you

Nikki Akparewa  51:37

Thank you


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