Celebrating Black History Month: Samantha Joseph-Erskine

Black History Month

Samantha Joseph-Erskine is a registered nurse and bed flow facilitator in the St. Luke’s Emergency Department. She has worked at St. Luke’s for 15 years. She originally came to Southcoast Health as a travel nurse when she relocated from St. Lucia to the United States in 2005. Always willing to help others, she knew that nursing was the profession for her after watching nurses care for her grandmother suffering from cancer.

The Meaning of Black History Month

Black History Month is the time when we recognize the crucial roles of Black individuals in American history and celebrate their work. It is also a time to educate others of its importance to Black people and our continued fight for equality,” Samantha says. This year, in particular, the celebration of Black History Month is even more vital. For Sam, celebrating it encourages People of Color and allies to continue working against the racism many have experienced and still experience in the community.

“My patients are of different ethnic backgrounds, educational training, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and religions”, says Samantha. “But, caring for them and providing the best care possible is my number one priority,”

2020 Highlighted Health and Socioeconomic Disparities

The year 2020 was a challenging year for everyone. However, even more so for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in America as COVID-19 further exposed the disparities, including health and socioeconomic disparities, that exist. Numerous events last year, such as the death of George Floyd, sounded an even stronger clarion call that there is still significant work to be done in the fight for racial justice.

This year, Samantha joined the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council at Southcoast Health and also became the co-chair of the Black Lives Matter Coalition, an Employee Resource Group.

“On a personal level, 2020 increased my fear and concerns of raising a Black man in a world where he is judged by his skin color. There is a daily fear of him leaving the safety of his home and whether he will return. I worry about getting a call that most Black mothers have received,” Samantha says.

Joining these groups at Southcoast Health has provided her with avenues. She feels comfortable to share her fears and concerns surrounding racial issues in America.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, Samantha hopes to travel back to St. Lucia to see her mom and family. She has not been able to since the start of the pandemic. Professionally, she also hopes to obtain her master’s degree in either public health or education.

Working on the #SouthcoastFrontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Samantha encourages everyone to do their part in fighting the virus. She encourages others to respect and appreciate their differences. When it comes to racism, look at our own biases as we work to pave the way to true equality.

Speaking to social justice and anti-racism efforts, Samantha’s hopes for the future include the elimination of racial inequalities. Most importantly, an increase in awareness and acceptance that racial injustice exists. Similarily, that we become united as a people without individuals being judged by their skin color.

To learn more about how Southcoast Health honors Black History Month and employee profiles, visit our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion page