Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Racism among the elderly

By: Sheena Jeffrey

       I have to start off my saying that not all elderly people are racist, but during the last eight years since I have been working with the elderly, I have encountered some very racist elderly people. I have worked at a few nursing home as a Certified Nursing Assitant and because of my work I am expected to assist my elderly residents with activities that they can no longer do by themselves. Most of my patients are caucasian and allow me to help them with no problems, But there are a few from the minute their eyes focus on me make comments like; "Can I have someone else" or " I don't want that nigga in my room". I have had a few tell me go back to Africa, but not in a nice way and who just assume well "you have this job because you were born to weigh on me hands and feet". While I know that it probaly was common when they were themselves young to treat people of a different race as they were inferior to them, I would have hope that with time came the realization that we are not inferior, but on the same level just of a different social or cultural background.

     The picture below shows caucasian residents of a nursing althought not the only group of people that display racism towards people of different racial or ethnic background in this setting (nursing home) many of them believe that they are superior.


         Elderly people not only in nursing home makes racial comments, the video below show an elderly person on the the train calling someone the "N" word because this person sat down next to her:

           It is sad to see racism still exist but is all around us, but even more so on television and I beleive that if we are to put a stop to it we need to start with our media. Below show a clip about the some racial moments on TV, not among elderly people but from people some of us may like and even respect:
        In conclusion, althought I would love to see racisim go away today the reality is that tommorrow it will still be here. Our first step in doing this is my showing resistance, standing up and doing your part in saying "No this is not right, I am not inferior to you".


  1. I totally agree with this article. My grandmother is a resident in a nursing home and their is a lot of racism were she resides. Although I'm a shame to admit it my grandmother is discriminating about other races herself. She is 92yrs old and is the most loving person I know yet, she does not bite her tounge when it comes down to people of other races including those of her own.
    She's doesn't do it in a mean or hateful manner, yet it can be shameful at times. In fact I find that some senoirs still live in the moments of their youth so, I over look a lot of comments made by them.

  2. I think elderly people tend to be more racist is because of the era they grew up in. They were more than likely racist when they were younger when racism was at it's peak in the U.S. So when the civil rights movement started these people were not open for change. Now they have become old and the hate is still in their hearts. I feel they have lost out because their are so many wonderful things you can experience from someone who is of another race.

  3. I think racism will continue among the eldetly because it has been a part of their life.They grew up learning to discriminate other race.The forstuating part about it is that the very people they discriminate are the ones taking care of them in the nursing, and they do not have the power to stop them.

  4. According to the book "racism is the perception and treatment of a racial or ethnic group, or member of that group, as intellectually, socially, and culturally inferior to one's own group."
    I know the similar example to your, Sheena, but in opposite hand. My friend works also in a nursing home as a Certified Nursing Assistant and as in your case, was faced with racism. She takes care of an elderly African American woman, who insists to replace assistant of because of racial prejudice. She also says '"Can I have someone else," and it is not matter that she received a very quality treatment and help.
    Racial prejudice is always there in our society. America is a country where so many people of different nationalities and races live together. Sometimes when we change some social rules, regulations and modes. People need to accustomed to the new conditions, but some of them hardly adapt, especially older people, sometimes they continue to live under the old law. Perhaps this is cause why some of older people are racist. But we have to learn themselves to be more patient, kind and respect people regardless of their race and ethnicity and teach our children. Perhaps the next generation will not face this problem.
    Great blog post and good example of racism and discrimination.

  5. Lamberto Owono AbengJune 15, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    in the first video, i believe that most old white people are racist because that's how they raised them when they were little kids, and they were living by separate from other races.however, I believe that the new white people generation are away from the old white generation because they live together with other races, go the same school. In the second video, I can just conclude that racism will be difficult to finish because each race still making fun of others races which is sad.

  6. I really enjoyed your post. I too have noticed a lot of racism in the elderly people in my neighborhood. I have been shocked at some of the things that come out of their mouth. There is a saying that elderly people are set in their ways and unwilling or difficult to change their way of thinking. I believe this to be true to some extent but it doesn't justify their behavior. The second video was so disturbing. It's crazy that people in the media are allowed ti speak that way. But it does show us that racism is still alive and it is up to us to change it. I think since we are the younger generation, we should be the ones speaking out as you said and standing against racism whenever we can. Also, for those of us who are parents, we should be teaching our children to treat everyone equally. Maybe then the views of the older more racist generations will be overcome with the newer non racist generation. All we can do is try.

  7. I work at ACTS, its a retirement home for the elderly. Like you had in the picture, all the residents are caucasian.However, I have never seen racism from them. There are a lot of workers who come from different ethnic groups and I have never seen or heard the residents say anything mean to them. They love all the workers we have and are very respectful to them. But maybe that's just how they are there, I know there's many other nursing homes where the residents aren't so nice. Based on your blog, I think they're more racist because they grew up in the period when there was a lot of racism and segregation. However, I believe with us and our future generations things are and will be different.

  8. January JeffersonJune 16, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    I have also worked at nursing homes for the elderly, and i have not only seen racism, but sexism also. Some patients prefer to have women or men help them, and they have no problem expressing these feelings through anger or ignorance. The best thing to do is to try and understand when and where these people are from and to realize that these behaviors don't reprepresent me or what i stand for.