Aug 4, 2012
Councilman Barry Set A Meeting with Filipino Nurses
Written under: Health, Human Interest, Philippines, Politics
After months of racist remarks, Ward 8 Councilman and former DC Mayor Marion Barry has agreed in a meeting with the Filipino nurses after the controversial issue on the racial discrimation towards Asian Americans and nurses.
“We’re trying to tell the people and the community that we’re here because we want to serve the community, we’re not here to take their jobs but because they need nurses. That’s why we’re here,” Marissa Usman, president of the Philippine Nurses Association of Metropolitan DC (PNAMDC) told the Manila Mail.
Usman told that they are scheduled to meet with the Councilman last June 6.
He was quoted as saying, “If you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines, and no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses, and so that we don’t have to go scrounging in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else.”
That incident were condemn by Asian American communities, especially Filipinos who alarmed with the statement, and became a topic regarding immigration laws.
“There is already an anti-immigrant sentiment so he should know better than to speak with xenophobic sentiments like I said, he is a civil rights champion but being too long in politics maybe it’s time for him to retire,” rued fellow street parliamentarian Jon Melegrito, spokesman for the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
“Councilmember Barry’s penchant for blaming Asians, who only want to work for their American dream, fuels racism, discrimination, and violence,” Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. protested.
“Such rhetoric does nothing but harm relations among community members, when the times call for developing relationships and finding solutions to common challenges. He owes Filipino nurses an apology for his recent tirade,” the envoy stressed.
At first, he refused to gave a public apology but when he was rushed to a Las Vegas hospital, wherein he was given attention by Filipino nurses, and realized his mistake.
He thanked the “outstanding medical staff, incl. kind professional Filipino staff.” by tweeting it to his Twitter account.
“I stand corrected,” he tweeted, “I truly didn’t mean 2 hurt or offend.”
The PNAMDC said they wanted to talk to Barry and DC Mayor Vincent Gray because they felt that the city officials are unaware of what they really doing as nurses in district hospitals.
“We feel like he doesn’t know what Filipino nurses do here,” said the group’s spokesman Joy Arellano, who works at the Georgetown University Hospital. “I think he just needs more enlightenment on what we can do for DC.”
“We can help in the nursing shortage because that was the purpose of his speech in UDC (University of District of Columbia). He’s trying to make DC the source we can help with our experience, we can help plan with him to solve the nursing shortage,” chimed Nora Mendoza, the incoming president of the PNAMDC.
“We are professionals. We have the skills. We have the compassion and the passion to be nurses,” Usman said.
Hundreds of Filipino nurses working in the Metro DC region. Usman concedes they don’t have an exact number of Pinoy nurses employed in the area because they are deployed from various places.
According to Usman, many of these nurses have already acquired their American citizenship and resided in the area for so many years.
The percentage of Filipinos in the hospitals are just part of the foreign nurses community around Metro DC region. “It’s not just us kaya lang when you go to all these hospitals all you see are Filipinos – and we’re proud of that. We’re proud to be part of the community and the hospital where we serve,” Usman said.
“He (Barry) is lucky that Washington DC is one of the areas where we serve,” she declared, only partly in jest.
The nurses insisted that an apology from Barry. “If he doesn’t want to apologize that is his prerogative but in the dialogue we want to show him why we are here. We don’t want to be involved in their politics”. she averred.
They are hoping for a disclosure about this issue. To put the hurts behind them, the nurses explained, and move on into their lives. “Maybe he can gain something from what we can offer. If he needs some support from us, we’re here. We’re here to help them,” Usman added