By: Nia Adimu-Ceja Josiah, BA

“Imini emnandi kuwe Ella Fundi.“ – Ella Baker
(translated: We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes)


How do I feel as a Black nursing student in a predominantly White institution?

I cannot rest.

So long as my voice as a Black Hopkins Nursing student is not heard,
So long as my life as a Black Hopkins Nursing student is not valued,
So long as micro-aggressions occur in our classrooms,
So long as my intellect is minimized,
So long as my talents are not recognized,
So long as our lecture slides read to be Black is a risk factor as opposed to identifying the social determinants of health that affect our race at disproportionate rates,
So long as there are only Black professors and clinical instructors willing to advocate for Black students,

I cannot rest.

Because this schism world over is more than just a photo opportunity,
This movement is more than just slogans and pictures on picket signs,
This demonstration is more than just a one-time ally membership access,
This call to action is a life-long commitment to stand for racial justice and equality.
This is a moral obligation for White privilege to unpack their invisible knapsacks, confront their unconscious biases, and accept their advantage.

The time has come for White privilege to identify as anti-racist.
The time has come to declare and dismantle systemic racism.
There is no justice. So, there is no peace.

 I cannot rest.

Because the pain we as Blacks endure is constant, spanning over 400 plus years of oppression.
We do not get to pick and choose, for we combat racism and discrimination from conception until ascension.

It is our way of life.

So publicly protest, but when the hype dissipates how will we progress?

Action of disapproval begins with self and is displayed when the iPhones are put away.
When bodycams are turned off. It is demonstrated when Facebook cannot go live.

It is when oppressive systems no longer just acknowledge deeply rooted issues but emerge and implement solutions.

It is recognized when oppressive systems bid away with tokenism and return the “poster Black child.”

It is denoted when White colleagues embrace the brilliance of their Black colleagues.
It is exercised when White colleagues create safe spaces for Black colleagues.
It is exhibited when White colleagues create seats at the table for Black colleagues.
It is illustrated when White colleagues use their privilege to open closed door for those Black colleagues who are under-represented and unrepresented.

The true fight is fought when the oppressor makes a shift in human consciousness; committed to “change” their thoughts, actions, and reactions thus eradicating their oppressive systems.

The true fight is fought when no one is present to hold you accountable.
It is when you hold you accountable!

I cannot rest.

The victory is won when the oppressed makes a shift—rising up, holding self-accountable, channeling our ancestors, empowering our Black nation to re-fuel our “think tanks,” re-appoint our leaders, re-strategize our plans, re-mobilize our armed forces and re-execute the blueprint that was once created for us to follow.

Oh, how history repeats…until a shift!

I cannot rest.

As a student nurse we were trained when someone shouts “I can’t breathe” it’s a medical emergency.

We were taught to hurriedly rush to the scene.
Assemble the Ambu bag.
Access oxygen.
Apply the non-rebreather mask.
Measure oxygen saturation levels in the blood.
Monitor heart rate.
Count respirations.

When someone shouts “I can’t breathe,” we were taught to
Open the oral airway.
Prepare for chest compressions.
Employ the Cardiac defibrillator machine.
Wheel in the crash cart.
Administer advanced cardiac life support drugs.

For 8 minutes and 46 seconds George Floyd’s airway was restricted. None of these actions were taken and on replay we watched world over, the modern-day public lynching of a Black man.

Oh, how history repeats…until a shift!

There is no justice. So, there is no peace.

We cannot rest.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes!

May this shift carry us through the gale.

Footnote: Freedom Fighters Sweet Honey in the Rock once boldly sang “sonorous tones back as far as the slave days” in their performance of popular Civil Rights anthem Ella’s Song –a call to action for racial equality and justice (Dillard, 2013).

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Nia Adimu-Ceja Josiah is currently a student in the MSN (Entry into Nursing) program, as well as a member of the Black Student Nurses Association, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee, and the Social Justice Action Team. Nia is a Palliative Care Research Assistant on the Hillman Research Study ICU team led by Dr. Rebecca Wright. She plans to further her education by earning a DNP (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner). Her interests include mental and behavioral health in underserved populations.

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