It’s The Little Things…Everywhere That Add Up.

Today, my family was searching for a new dentist because we have to change dental insurance. I therefore wanted to take the opportunity to support a black dentist. Why not? Ultimately, the professional has to take our insurance, be good at what they do but beyond that we wanted to support a black owned business.

I therefore started searching online. I would find a name through my insurance’s website and then search. As I would come to that medical professional’s website, I would search to see if I could see a picture of the professional to see if they were African American. This is when I came to the realization that many black medical professionals do not post their pictures on websites including their own. I’ve heard from some that for decades they have been advised not to. Just like how black people are taught to give our children racially ambiguous names so that when they apply for jobs they can be given a chance at an interview. I know many medical professionals are taught not to put pictures of themselves on their websites so that they can get more business.

Why is this? It’s because racism has often reared it’s head with people assuming that black medical professionals aren’t competent and could not possibly help them. For many white people, although many aren’t even conscious of it, they would completely disregard a medical professional if they saw their brown skin on a website. However, that same person is more likely to keep that doctor if they made an appointment and ventured into that doctor’s office especially if they had a good first experience.

I have recounted black doctor friends sharing about walking into rooms with patients and being asked where is the doctor or having the patient demand to see someone different or be outright belligerent towards them. So our black medical professionals study for years and excel against all odds. Then they enter the workforce and often are completely disregarded because of their skin color, even though they maybe the most competent person in the room or on the team.

So this is a little thing or really not so little of a thing that yet happens to black people, that takes a toll and that matters. I therefore long for the day when our black medical professionals can just think about their practice and medicine and don’t have to think about how they will be perceived because of the color of their skin and I can go online and immediately see a picture of my doctor or dentist without hesitation or fear from that doctor, that their picture would negatively impact their business.

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Shanya Gray

I am an anti-racist, black/bi-racial educator, activist and therapist. I seek to bring equity awareness/education and ways of healing for people of color.