We caught up again with our friends in Atlanta today, first at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Birth Home and National Historic Site, then over dinner in Duluth, where the third largest Korean population in the U.S. resides (and evidently, has delicious and authentic restaurants). I feel like the more I listened to our friends talk about living in the South, being in the sciences as a person of color, the more disgusted I was becoming in these conversations. I never would have learned these things other than in random articles unless I spoke with them about these incidents they’d gone through.
She talked about being an intern and working with a white racist attending doctor, who basically determines whether you get to move on to fellowship and becoming a full fledged practicing doctor; they do all your write-ups and evaluations, they decide whether you can take the next step. If you don’t get along with your attending, you’re basically screwed, and the system is set up in such a way where it doesn’t matter if you have been discriminated against; no one wants to care or cares. A patient came in, black and poor without medical insurance, and the doctor says to her in the room that the patient is a “fat n*****.” Our friend raised her eyes at him because she felt powerless and could say or do nothing, and he retorts back to her, “Why are you annoyed? I didn’t say anything about your race.” In her very wealthy and white undergrad experience at LSU, she was surrounded in sciences by 5th, 6th, 7th generation white southern women, some of whom were wealthy because of their slave-owning ancestors pre-Civil War. And these are people who you could probably never have a conversation about civil rights with, as they lamented what a difficult time their relatives had back in the day when slavery ended, “how hard” it was for their families to get by and make themselves into what they now have today. To them, black people and other people of color don’t have it hard; they have it hard because we’re probably taking all their land, their jobs, their rights from them. When she worked in Birmingham for a temporary internship, she told her team openly that she wanted to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the 16th Street Baptist Church where the bombing happened, and it was just crickets in response; no one else had any interest in going or cared. It was chilling for her to witness this… today, in the 21st century, in a time post our first African-American U.S. president.
I couldn’t really say anything because I was just so disgusted. But then I am reminded of the horror stories I’ve heard in California, in Long Island, of people who think just like this. And I realize that the stories our friend shared during this trip — they are not isolated. They are a lively and growing group of hatred-filled people being further fueled by President Dipshit.