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JHan

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Gender: Female
Member since: Sun Sep 11, 2016, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 10,173

About Me

Be true, be brave, stand. All the rest is darkness.

Journal Archives

I went to medical school in Charlottesville. I know white anger well

For four years, my task was to learn to treat people who were sick. Even the ones who wore their Confederate pride openly, even the ones who threatened to shoot me on home health visits. My task was to learn from experienced physicians how to help people get well. Even when they witnessed racist behavior directed toward me. Even when they glossed over that bigotry.

The response to the violence in Charlottesville has had its fair share of denial — people saying, this is not the city I know, the protesters came from elsewhere, this is not the America I know.

Such statements are infuriating.

In Charlottesville, this was exactly the America I knew. This was the Virginia I knew. This was the medicine I knew. Even on graduation day, one the happiest days of my life, my family broke bread at a restaurant I later learned was owned by a man affiliated with the University of Virginia who had made controversial and racist statements.

This is the quiet racism of every day — the small transgressions that we gloss over in our daily lives. The outrage that only comes when men carrying tiki torches march openly. The America I know tolerates racism as long as it’s quiet, as long as it doesn’t cause a scene. Until it kills an innocent protester.


*snip*

As for me, a few weeks ago, an angry patient kept referring to me as “that woman.” Another patient refused to look at me, a black doctor, as she believed black people, “are more prone to violence.”

This is the America I know, the medicine I know. Bigotry in a hospital gown — it’s a risk I face every day when I go into work.

But, during the first incident, a nurse intervened, reminding the patient that I was her doctor, Dr. Okwerekwu, and deserved her respect. And during the second incident, my attending spoke up, telling the patient that her views were misinformed.

And after the second incident, my attending asked me how I was doing, how I was coping. That woman hadn’t been the first patient that week to spew racism. A team social worker, an occupational therapist, and even a medical student I was working with offered their support.

What happened when I talked about what others ignore — racism in medicine
This is the America I want. The medicine I aspire to.


https://www.statnews.com/2017/08/14/charlottesville-protest-white-anger/
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