Thursday, September 20, 2007

doctor

today i went to see an orthopedic doctor about a joint i've been having problems with. i was pleasantly surprised when the door to the room i had been waiting in opened and the doctor was black.

in all my years of going to see doctors, i've NEVER had a black doctor. isn't that shocking? well, i guess it's not so much shocking as it is ridiculous. i know that there are plenty of black doctors in the world but the majority of them obviously aren't in portland, oregon.


i go to the doctor every now and then-i've seen my share of doctors and so i wondered: how does one go thirty something years without ever being seen by a doctor of their own race? the funny thing about it is that i've never expected to see black doctors. up until today, i had never given the idea any thought. it seems like it's such a rarity here in portland.

so i wonder how that all plays out with the different races. has this subconsciously had an effect on me-having never dealt with a black doctor? never having the opportunity to see a successful black doctor? and what about white people here in portland? i'm sure that they are also really affected by rarely seeing a black doctor.

and i believe that part of the "white privilege" (that so many white people don't believe exists) is for white people to just be able to see so many successful people that look like themselves. i mean, what if every time a black kid in portland went to see a doctor, he or she were black? i bet the black people in portland, and even the white people here would be really different.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

fwiw, i've never seen a black doctor in any city i've lived in (and i've lived in a lot of them). it doesn't make it right, but it's not just a portland thing.

-e

lisablisa@gmail.com said...

Your post made me remember the time a few years back when I was on flight from MPS to DCA and the flight captain was a black man and the first officer (co-capt) was a white female! It was really awesome to see this diversity in the flight deck navigating the friendly skies:-)

Anonymous said...

i'm a second year medical student and i see the lack of diversity on a daily basis. it starts with the low number of black folks in medical school to start with. my school's new first year class has 2 black females and one black male, out of a class of 200 :( my class is a little better number wise, but not gender wise. we have 15 black females and 1 solitary black male :(

another anon said...

I live in the UK. I see a few black doctors - mostly male here and there. In very integrated cities like London the numbers are quite large. In fact at one stage or the other you are likely to be treated by a black doctor. Obviously in the more rural areas not so much. Over in the USA there are I believe more of them in places like NYC. There is no doubt that many more black role models are needed...and I do not mean rappers.

Oasis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oasis said...

This is one if the reasons I'm becoming a doctor. We need more blacks in the science field.

patti digh said...

I participate twice a year in a 9-week community dialogue on black/white racism here in North Carolina - and I remember vividly during one of those session the shock with which a young black woman realized that in all her years in school, she had never once had a black teacher - you are so right that white privilege keeps those of us who are white from even thinking about this kind of issue--until the door opens and we're shocked to see a black doctor. Then, the learning comes from our reaction to that doctor... Your post has been really thought-provoking for me - many thanks...

BeautyinBaltimore said...

This is one if the reasons I'm becoming a doctor. We need more blacks in the science field

In health care period.

Falone said...

@ the second anonymous:

It's the same exact thing in my pharmacy class graduating in 2012, except in a class of about 250 freshman (well, I'm a sophomore now, 4.5 more years!), there are 3 black females (two Haitians, and a Jamaican), no black males, one Latino male, and a Dominican and Puerto Rican (females). Actually, even the white kids are in the minority; the majority are Chinese (not even a lot of Koreans), and Indian/Pakistani/Bengali. But, it's the NYC area, so I don't know how it is at other pharmacy schools.

But wow. I've never had a black doctor/pharmacist/teacher. My first black professor is this year, he's an amazing organic chemist, really knows his stuff.

Natalie said...

One of the med schools I interviewed at was Howard so there were plenty of Black Pre-meds there. I saw a few at the others but not all that many. I have had one or two Black doctors and one of my best friends older brothers is a black dr. I guess I am in the minority.

Anonymous said...

Wow, where do you guys live (with the exception of That Black Girl)? Our family doctor is a black female, both our dentist (family and surgical) are black. When I was growing up back home in Detroit, we were surrounded by minority doctors. And when I was in the Army, it was common to see black doctors.

Leigh-Anne said...

I grew up in South Africa and I've never been to a black doctor! I've heard of them... But never actually seen one! :-D

Asian doctors are commonplace, but (due to my father's prejudice) my family gp was white...

Now that I'm all grown up (well, sort of grown up!) and can choose my own doctor, my doctor is a mixed race female. Just like me! :-D

I totally get what TBG is saying: it really is such a cool feeling seeing a doctor who is like me...

JMac said...

I read the book, Blink, and it talked about this very thing. Actually, the test you posted about on your blog (black and white faces flashing on screen, matched with positive or negative words)was discussed. The author concluded that even though racist stereotypes are held (for some people, anyways) in the subconscious mind, we can work at reversing this by familiarizing ourselves with African American role models, such as MLK, Rosa Parks, doctors, lawyers, authors, etc. And, as you know, so many Affican Americans have done amazing things throughout history, but have been left out of our children's books.

The author actually performed the test on a group of folks who had just read a few quotes by MLK, and the results were strikingly more positive than when they had taken the test previously. You might enjoy that book, if you haven't read it already!

amazedlife said...

I think you are more than correct that the race and gender of the doctors and lawyers and leaders of all sorts who we see around us have a deep impact on us. I've told this story before on the internet, and I can't remember where, so I'm sorry if it was here! - but I spent the summer of 2006 in Liberia and I almost cried the first time I heard the announcement of "Her Excellency, Madame President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf." Despite the token "maybe YOU could be president," we - *I* - all of us - internalize these messages about what our opportunities and positions are.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Dr. Ben Carsons, Dr. Muriel Petioni, Dr. Charles Drew....so many prominent and amazing black doctors. My family practice is 11 doctors strong, 4 of them black. That is a nutty statement. You could always enter med school now....35 is not too late.

Anonymous said...

It's all about where you live. Yeah there is not a large number of black american doctors,but they do exist. I grew up in ohio and all of my doctors were black.

Anonymous said...

TBG, you had me LMAO at the name thing. My sister and I make at least 1 joke about those names every couple of weeks--and we're Black. And no, we didn't grow up rich and privilaged. In fact, she integrated her public high school back in the '60s.

I happen to know a few Black doctors, but with the exception on my sister, my childhood best friend's sister and the neighborhood doctor where we grew up, I only just started seeing them in the last few years. I also recall as a new engineer walking onto our office floor, looking around, and out of several hundred engineers there were only 2 Black ones...including me.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, my favorite Dr, Dr Lakes was a black woman. She was amazing.

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