Friday, April 21, 2006

first Time, now Newsweek ... what's wrong with me?

Mr. Ben sent me this article about a black doctor's frustration with a patient population that can't conceive of her as a doctor. It's a short, poignant piece: the doctor diagnoses her own problem bluntly and describes it with a lack of self-pity that reminds of me of the awesome emergency room doctor I saw almost exactly a year ago. That ER doctor looked like Pippi Longstocking, and although she didn't have the liability of dark skin, I remember wondering whether her youth & gender acted as obstacles for her.

Two of my closest friends are currently getting their MDs. They're short, like I am, and when we're 35 we'll all probably still look 16. I can only hope that at that age, they'll be taken seriously regardless; indeed I hope they'll be helping scared, disoriented ER patients who are about to have to quit their jobs, rather than be fired, for having gone to the hospital at all. (True story! But what was it I just said about self pity ... ?)

I also hope by the time we're 35, if not before, a black woman wearing a lab coat will no longer be something worth looking twice at. Maybe shows like Gray's Anatomy, with its Crayola-approved team of surgeons, will have burrowed their way into the public's consciousness by then? But the harder thing to remember is that this shit starts with me. It's not "other people" who have to adjust their preconceptions. The first time I saw my black gynecologist I remember doing a double-take; I remember that fleeting moment of doubt. That woman, as it turned out, was not just a dream of a doctor (and a hero to the women of my college); part of the reason she was so good with us was that she had earned her stripes working with pre-teen inner city girls at a Philly clinic.

On a lighter note, three cheers for the end of Passover! I've fulled exorcised the holiday now, having spent a day eating chocolate covered pretzels and dry cereal. Phew. I don't think I thought ONCE, over the entire course of the 8 days of deprivation, about being a slave in Egypt. Or how Egypt feels about the Jewish community celebrating our ancestors' exodus from their ancestors (some of whose first born sons were sacrificed for our freedom, or so the story goes). That has to be a little weird for them, don't you think?

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