An Open Letter to Whoopi Goldberg….We most certainly WERE Listening A Guest Post by Rebecca Goldberg
Since I saw The View’s so-called “apology” clip on social media, I’ve given this post a tremendous amount of thought. My first instinct and knee-jerk reaction was to sit down with my laptop and blast them with full force…unload my anger and outrage onto the page…err…computer screen…so I could purge it and get all of that negativity out of my system. I’ll admit, I even got about a quarter of the way through that piece, when I stopped to re-read it. It was a scathing, searing diatribe that quite frankly, made me ashamed of myself. It sounded like something that the View Crew would say…it was petty, spiteful, angry and distasteful. That’s not who I am as a person, a writer or more specifically, a nurse. Quite frequently, I end my blog posts with a sentence urging my readers to be kind to each other. I am a tireless advocate for tolerance, peaceful coexistence and doing unto others, as the old saying goes. Those beliefs were always as much a part of my nursing practice as my clinical skills. Blasting the women of The View with insults and anger will only fuel the fire of their ignorant misconceptions regarding the nursing profession, and that ultimately serves no truly useful purpose.
That being said, I have no intention of just simply allowing my profession and all of my many colleagues to be repeatedly insulted and NOT speak out. I hear my Mother’s voice in my head…you can be assertive without being aggressive….you can be direct without being demeaning…and lastly, her old standard: when all else fails, give them a taste of some Irish Diplomacy and tell them to go to hell in such a way it will make them look forward to the trip. (She was quite a character!) I have decided there is only one way to go about accomplishing this.
An Open Letter to Whoopi Goldberg:
I am very disappointed in you. I wrongly expected more of you than to look directly into the camera and tell an entire profession of educated, degreed professionals that we need to listen and pay attention. I can assure you, we were listening, very closely indeed. However, I felt the need to let you know that while I was listening and paying attention, I realized I have much for which to thank you.
Thank you for reminding me how very fortunate I am to share a profession with some of the kindest souls on the planet. I am no longer a nurse at the bedside, but when I was, my coworkers were the best of the best. I have had the distinct honor and privilege to work alongside some of the most amazing, intelligent, highly skilled, and riotously funny people… my sisters and brothers of my nurse family…and for that I will be forever grateful. I hope that someday, you will be able to say the same.
Thank you for reminding our profession that solidarity is not something we will ever lack. It has been refreshing to watch nurses supporting Kelly Johnson, and each other. I have to admit, this recent uprising of nurses in support of one another has been long overdue. It confirms what we have always known but have been too busy in recent times to recognize…We are many, yet we stand as one. The callous, thoughtless remarks on your show may have been aimed at one beauty pageant contestant, but 3 million nurses in the US felt the sting for her and with her. I guess you could say, that’s just how we roll. And it’s wonderful that you reminded us of that fact.
I cannot thank you enough for solidifying the entire medical community. It is no secret, or big surprise that in our high-stress careers nurses, doctors, and members of ancillary staff have been known to “butt heads” on occasion. It is simply the nature of the beast that is healthcare. However, as a direct result of the comments made this week on The View, I’ve come to realize that not only do nurses have each other’s backs, there are many others who have rushed to our defense as well. I personally, because of one blog post I’ve written regarding your comments, have heard from MDs, DOs, nursing assistants, veterinarians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, veterinary assistants, lab techs, radiology techs, hospital administrators, pathologists, social workers, hospital housekeeping staff, maintenance staff, professors, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, a couple of cafeteria workers and even a CFO of a large hospital in California all standing united in support of nurses around the world. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming, touching and quite humbling. Nurses don’t ask for much, and therefore we don’t frequently get a lot of credit. It is heartwarming to know that people recognize and appreciate all that nurses do, and we have you, the women of The View, to thank for that.
A big thank you to your colleague Joy Behar for making it so abundantly clear through her “stupid and inattentive” statements, that as women, there quite obviously needs to be more education and awareness of how we speak to, and about, one another. We’re doing better, but Ms. Behar made us realize that we still have so very far to go. A young woman stood on a stage at a beauty pageant dressed in scrubs and was ridiculed, not supported in the least. She was blasted for wearing a “nurse costume” instead of a cleavage-baring evening gown or skimpy outfit. Not a word was spoken about her ability to be an articulate and well-composed public speaker. Not a word was mentioned that she was obviously an intelligent professional, proud of her chosen career. Not a single syllable was uttered about the content of her monologue (which was, by the way, caring for an Alzheimer’s patient named Joe, and NOT just simply reading her emails out loud). Ms. Behar’s mean-spirited knee-jerk reaction and then subsequent act of playing dumb, I-didn’t-know-what-was-going-on routine (which NOBODY is buying) makes me grateful that the amazing women I worked with, and the incredible women I have in my life as friends, have the insight and class to think before they speak…to be supportive before they judge…to feel empathy toward other women and make the conscious choice to build them up, instead of tearing them down.
I would like to thank Michelle Collins for the unexpected gift of immense gratitude for my unimportant, non-celebrity life, because wow. Does she ever grow tired of chewing on that foot that is constantly in her mouth? I know that being a celebrity and having everything you do and say picked apart must get tiring and infinitely frustrating. But when you issue a supposed apology to an entire profession and then send out tweets (and I’m not certain if these were immediately before, or immediately after the taping of the non-apology) that are highly insulting to that same profession, you either a) just really do not care, b) really honestly suffer from delusions of grandeur or c) both are correct. The Tweets in question are as follows: “I mean it is a little funny the hidden anger you nurses possess. I never knew.” “I’m not taking an anti-nurse platform haha. Like everyone prescribe yourselves a Valium and let’s just all relax.” I was at a loss for words. Wow. Just wow. And you honestly want us to believe that you do not understand WHY this is offensive?
See, Ms. Goldberg? We DO pay attention. I understand that this is supposed humor, but I also understand that 3 million nurses in the US and millions more worldwide, the physicians we work beside and the rest of the healthcare community are most assuredly not laughing.
And in closing, I want to thank your assistant’s-assistant’s-assistant’s-assistant to whatever assistant producer for maybe reading this thank you note from one of the “little people.” All I ask is that you keep this one thing in mind…we are not famous…we may not be wealthy…but we are many and we stand as ONE. Two of your corporate sponsors have already pulled out…kudos to Johnson & Johnson and Egglands’ Best!! We thank these companies from the bottom of our hearts!…..and others are right at this moment, considering following their lead. Funny, isn’t it?
And in closing, I want to assure you and all the women of your panel that when the need arises, and you look up with tear-filled eyes, full of panic, full of fear…into the eyes of the nurse standing at your bedside, you will find that all of your disrespectful comments in that moment, will be forgotten. Because nurses don’t see celebrities…or CEO’s…or homeless bums…or junkies…we only see patients. And time and time again, we put our hearts on the line for every single one of you. Like I said before, that’s just how we roll. I can assure you, our hearts are much bigger than your egos. And for helping me and millions of my sisters, brothers, comrades and colleagues around the world realize that, I thank you.
Becky, RN, BSN, CCRN, CHN, CLNC, CLNI