Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry
Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta - madamenoire.com)

The Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA) considers a recent statement of Washington, D.C. Councilman Marion Barry as offensive and inappropriate.

The PNAA said, “It is unfortunate that despite EEOC guidelines, Affirmative Action, the Alliance for International Ethical Recruitment Practices and National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s policy respecting the rights of immigrants, Marion Barry remains ignorant that Filipino nurses (many of whom are US citizens), teachers and immigrants are valuable members of our community. The Filipino nurses’ contribution to US healthcare is immeasurable, and their hard earned taxable dollars contribute to the US economy.

“Barry’s intention of keeping the jobs available for the American people to address unemployment was diminished when he singled out Filipino registered nurses and teachers with his remark, ‘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.’ Barry, as a public official who represents the public, ought to know better than to single out a specific group in serving the needs of the American people.

“PNAA demands a formal apology Marion Barry for his insensitive remarks. In a diverse and pluralistic society, we must learn how to respect each other. PNAA is the official organization of Filipino nurses in the United States.

The following is excerpted from The Washington Post article by Tim Craig published on April 24, 2012.

“At a hearing Monday on the University of the District of Columbia’s budget, he spoke about the need to train more African Americans to become nurses. In a video of his remarks, Barry noted a growing number of nurses are “immigrants” from the Philippines ‘[I]f you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,’ said Barry (D-Ward 8). 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.”

“Barry said he was attempting to make a larger point about the university and the country’s demands for nurses. ‘UDC ought to be a premier nursing school in the country. The nursing shortage is so bad we have to bring in nurses from the Philippines. What’s negative about that? Nothing’s negative about that,’ he said. ‘It’s an asset to the United States to have access to nurses from other countries, but I want UDC to be the premier nursing institution…. Every time I mention a group, it’s not negative, it’s a fact.’

“Several of Barry’s council colleagues, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and several Maryland lawmakers of Asian descent, called Barry’s statements as divisive.

“Barry stressed during the hearing that local colleges could help lower the unemployment if schools such as UDC, which has a growing nursing program, redouble efforts to identify and train potential nurses.

“Because of shortages nationwide, for years hospitals have had to turn overseas to bolster their ranks of nurses. More than half the foreign-trained nurses come from the Philippines, according to a 2005 study by Minority Nurse, which focuses on career and education training.”

Other Asian American groups, including the Office of the Philippine Ambassador, have also condemned Barry’s remarks.

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