St. Luke's nurse out of job after posting blackface photo online

Shelbi Heenan posted a photo to social media showing her and another person dressed as Jay Z and Beyoncé in blackface.

LEE'S SUMMIT, MO (KCTV) -- A nurse at St. Luke's Hospital no longer has a job after posting an offensive photo online.

Shelbi Heenan posted a photo to social media showing her and another person dressed as Jay Z and Beyoncé in blackface.

The post garnered quick backlash with one woman reaching out to St. Luke's hospital where Heenan was a registered nurse.

By lunchtime, the hospital released a statement saying Heenan was no longer an employee saying it is committed to a "culture of diversity and inclusion."

Here is the hospital's full statement:

On Monday afternoon, Saint Luke’s Health System became aware of a Saint Luke’s East Hospital employee who posted photos on personal social media accounts of her and another individual dressed in blackface for what appears to be a Halloween event. This information was shared with appropriate health system personnel and an investigation was initiated immediately. While it is against Saint Luke’s policy to comment on specific personnel matters, we can confirm that this individual is no longer a Saint Luke’s employee. Saint Luke’s is deeply committed to our culture of diversity and inclusion. It is fundamental to who we are as an organization and we vigorously protect it on behalf of all our patients and employees and expect those who represent us to do the same.

It was just last week when Megyn Kelly was fired from NBC after questioning whether it's offensive to dress in blackface.

So what is it people just aren't getting?

Dr. Makini King is with the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Diversity and Inclusion Division.

She says one of the problems is education, and we simply aren't doing a good enough job teaching the history of blackface, She also says the only way to really change things is to truly come together.

"We need to do better at teaching history and we also need to be more integrated. We need to encourage relationships with people who are not like us and that's a very deliberate thing, It has to be done. It doesn't just happen because you know you're a good person ... people have to deliberately form relationships with other people so that they have better information about other people's cultures what's appropriate and what's not and then also they get to humanize other people," King said.

King says she's not convinced firing people over these choices is always necessary saying in some cases, we'd be better served to use it as an opportunity to start a dialogue and educate ourselves.

"We have to be able to make the repairs in order to be progressive in creating justice. It can't just be punished and then the conversation is over," she said.

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(2) comments

Jane Doe

Saint Luke's is flat-out WRONG on this one. Sorry folks. What country do we live in these days that an anonymous tattletale can cause someone to lose their job for doing something minorly stupid on Halloween? Really? Anyone should know that in today's climate, dressing up as anyone who is black is problematic. But to lose your job over it? That's ridiculous.


Agreed. Now what happens if a black kid dresses up as a white superhero for Halloween? Is that "whitefacing" - regardless of whether make up is used or a white-skinned mask is used? Seriously, get a grip America.

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