Four hours ago, an ER colleague who is a 2nd generation American of Iranian heritage was told by a man with chest pain that he did not want to be treated by her, he wanted an “American”. He was having a heart attack and she was the only doc there. Security had to be called when the patient became combative.
Last month, a colleague was called “ni#%er” by a patient 3 times, the first time a patient ever called her that in 20 years. She was stunned.
Two weeks ago, a patient told me conspiratorially that she was glad she was seeing me, because she was initially assigned to “an Indian doc with a funny name, and I don’t want to see no Indian”. I am Indian. I told her to find another doctor.
Last week, my son’s Persian friend was told by a teacher when he walked in a room that he looked like a terrorist walking in with his backpack. Last month, my son was called “baby ISIS”. Last week his Asian friend was told by a teacher to wake up. He was awake, his eyes looked asleep to the teacher.
This week I took care of a patient with a swastika.
Last month, a Jewish colleague in Chicago woke up to a swastika spray painted on his garage.
Soooo am I tired of posts on racism ? Naw. We live it every day, and it is escalating since the election.
Can the focus on racism be “too much”? When do #blacklivesmatter stop mattering? NEVER. When are Nazis OK? NEVER.
But, I am present to the fact that whereas the racial minority/ religious minority/ sexual minority/ disabled/ poor person has lived in a war zone of discrimination all their lives, this may be new to some of you. And where minorities have become used to the gunshots of hatred, this is fresh trauma for some of you, and you are living in an adrenaline surge, a fight or flight, a state of heightened tension in this new awareness. It can be overwhelming, uncomfortable and off putting. I ( and many docs) are seeing an epidemic of panic, anxiety and depression over this past year, the nation is truly hurting. I am sorry.
SO for those of you who are getting exhausted, instead of taking your fatigue as a reason to quit your newfound awareness and advocacy, your discomfort as a reason to push back on the conversations, I encourage you to take a breather. Hold space for other people. Introspect, relax, unwind, self nurture, heal, and get back up and fight the good fight.
I have a feeling it’s going to get uglier before it gets better. And we need you.
And to those of you having these tough conversations, I salute you.