This is a difficult post to write, but one I feel I should.
I’ve generally prided myself on not being a bigot. I’ve had coworkers, friends, and boyfriends of varying religions, races, and sexual preferences. I’d like to think I try to see the various points of view, whether or not they agree with my own, and reserve judgement until I’ve heard more than one side of the story.
There are times I’ve called others out for what I’ve viewed as bigotry. Not as many times as I should have, I readily admit, but I’ve hurt people’s feelings and alienated people when I’ve pointed out that something they’ve said or some or posted seemed offensive. I’ve left online groups after letting them know the reason I was doing so was because I objected to some of the language used there, and dealt with the backlash – and reported the group for violating codes of conduct.
I grew up in a time and a place where certain actions or words weren’t viewed as harshly as they are today, and I’ve tried to unlearn patterns of speech and action. I’ve watched old movies or shows I once enjoyed and been upset at scenes that didn’t bother me years back, but now… I view them differently and wish I always had recognized what I see now.
I hope I can put more good in the world than bad… at least, leave the world no worse off for having been here. Aim for better.
Yet there are times where I fail. Fail abysmally. I’m ashamed, and I vow to try harder, do better.
Recently was another of those times.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve moved here, and I needed to find a new primary physician. Prescriptions needed to be refilled. I went my usual route to find a provider – the Internet. I looked at my insurance provider’s “find a doctor” information. I checked out online reviews. I readily admit, sexism rears its head immediately – I prefer a female physician. If someone asked, I’d say I’m more comfortable talking about female issues with a female. However, I’ve had fantastic male primary physicians in the past, doctors I wasn’t uncomfortable talking to about my concerns, so… I don’t know. I have no excuse. I selected a female.
This is where I get more ashamed to admit – I look for someone who appears has English as their first language. I know I’m doing it. In my head, I’m thinking I’m more likely to understand them if they don’t have an accent. Yet I’ve had a primary physician for whom English was a second language. Did I occasionally need her to repeat herself or write something down? Yes. I’ve also had doctors for whom English was their first language that I needed to do the same. So… no excuse.
I found a physician and made an appointment. She had good reviews, patients that noted she seemed to listen to them and understand their concerns and treat them with compassion.
I showed up at my appointment and went through the cursory preliminaries of a blood pressure check, weigh-in, forms, etc. I sat in the exam room and waited for my physician. She entered. Wearing a traditional Middle Eastern headdress.
I was taken aback. In that one moment, it hit me like a slap across the face – if any of her online profile pictures had shown her in the headdress, I would likely not have made that appointment. If I’d noticed she’d gone to school in Pakistan, I probably would have moved on to read other bios. I felt guilt. I felt shame.
I’ve only had the one appointment, but I was nothing but pleased. She was caring and compassionate and seemed very knowledgable. I plan to continue seeing her… and continuing to try.. harder.