The racial climate in the United States has always been tense. I believe we’ve reached another tipping point, and things are exploding. I moved down south almost two years ago because of the low cost of living and the opportunity to provide a better life for my children as a single parent on a fixed income. I, with God’s help of course, was able to purchase a beautiful home in a great neighborhood, and the cost of living is very low, but it doesn’t come without a price. The price is the deep-seated racism in the south. Now, Maryland is no Utopia. I shared many times before about how when I attended the predominantly white Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD from 1993 to 1995 the students made racist comments and some of the teachers treated the black students as if we were intellectually inferior. When I was in elementary school, I remember a police officer pushing my mother and me off of a predominantly white Lutheran church property because we were not welcomed there. So, I’ve experienced racism before I moved farther south.
Someone asked me to share my experiences with racism since I moved south, so here are a few instances that bothered me.
The Young White Pediatrician
A friend of mine referred me to a black pediatrician in Columbia, SC that she used and loved. (This article will explain one reason why I prefer a black doctor – Click here). When I called the practice, they told me she was no longer accepting patients. They gave me to another doctor. This doctor was a young white woman. She was probably in her late 20s or early 30s. I’m 37. When I met with the doctor for the first time, she talked to me as if I didn’t understand the terms she used. She explained simple concepts and terms in way too much detail. She talked down to me like I was uneducated and her inferior. She asked me insulting questions that are based on stereotypes of black women with children. She made it seem as if my visit was the first time I’d ever seen a doctor. She also assumed I didn’t have prenatal care. The experience was very degrading. This wasn’t the first time I encountered racial microaggression at a doctor’s office. I shared my experience about the first OBGYN I saw during my first pregnancy. Needless to say, I never went back to that practice.
Spending $60 at Starbucks
It was Teacher Appreciation Week, and I wanted to do something special for my children’s teachers, especially my daughter’s teachers since I gave them such a hard time when she came home with a huge scratch on her neck. I went to the local Starbucks and asked for six gift cards. I told the cashier, an older white woman, to put $10 on each card. She peered at me over her glasses that sat on the tip of her nose and said, “You do know that will be $60.” I looked confused for a moment and said, “Yes. I’m getting them for Teacher Appreciation Week.” It took me a few minutes to get what she was implying – I couldn’t multiply, afford the cards or didn’t know how much money I was spending. When I told her to go ahead and ring the cards up, she had an attitude. I wish I had the moment back because I would have given her a piece of my mind.
Dumped on While Speaking for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
In 2015, the Emanuel Church murders occurred in Charleston and shortly after, the governor made moves to remove the confederate flag from the State House grounds in Columbia. Racial tensions were high. I went to the local Publix and a couple of young white men in a pickup truck were flying a huge confederate flag in the parking lot. MADD asked me to tell my story at Fort Jackson to the soldiers. Naturally, I was the only black volunteer from MADD there that day. The other woman, white, was a psychiatrist who helped persons overcome alcohol and drug addiction. There was also a white cop there to tell his story about drunk drivers. The cop introduced himself to me and was very personable. He told me that as a baby he was orphaned and was from some eastern European country and immigrated to the United States through adoption. He told me now he was a well-respected police officer. When the psychiatrist heard his story, she turned to me and said, “See. All you have to do is work hard, and you can become anything. Anyone can make it if they don’t make excuses, and they are willing to work hard.” I knew all of this was code for “Black people need to stop making excuses and stop crying racism.” She literally dumped all of her racial microaggression on me, and it made me very uncomfortable. I knew exactly what she was saying and why she was directing it to me.
Now, some of you may say I’m overreacting to these things, or I’m looking for people to respond to me differently. No. In most cases, I was minding my business trying to make my purchase, tell my story or have my child seen by a doctor and people dumped their ignorance “in my lap.” People of color, Muslims, etc. deal with this type of aggression every day. Here is a great article that explains how it affects our health and psyche – Click here.
I moved south to give my children a better life, but after all that’s transpired and especially with the election of Donald Trump and his minions feeling entitled to harass people, the cost for that life may be too high.