A friend of mine said when she was in college, the teacher asked the class how many had had a healthcare provider who was African American while they were growing up. My friend was shocked at how few hands went up in a multiracial class.
Tin’s doctor was selected even before he was adopted because all of my friends went to her (Elizabeth Milvid, MD), so I thought the same would go for the choice of which dentist to use; I didn’t take into consideration that neither are African American.
However, I quickly became aware of the need for my son to have the experience of seeing someone nearer to his skin color as a medical professional. And that is how we came to drive to another town to see a dentist. A friend had recommended her family dentist and so we got in the car and drove a half hour to see her and when she walked in the room, I noticed that Tin smiled. Worth the trip! I thought.
There used to be a joke, I forget how it goes, where you are asked a question that involves three people and somehow the trick, or the hook, was you were supposed to know the attending emergency room physician was a woman, but no one would guess and so they’d get tripped up. This is an old joke and probably wouldn’t work today. Although there are many excellent African American physicians and dentists, when I was looking for one among my friends, I started to get tripped up. This is puzzling for a city with a majority of nonwhites.
All of my healthcare providers are white. I don’t know how this happened, is it because most health care providers in this city are mostly white? Or is it I gravitate towards white medical professionals? I’m not sure. And I may have never noticed had I not gone looking for a person of color to be Tin’s dentist.
After we left the dentist’s office, Tin said, “I’m going to be a doctor!” I asked him if he’d rather be a doctor or a dentist, and he said, “Actually, I want to be a doctor.”
I’m sure there is a dentist for Tin that might have been closer, but the drive to see Cleopatra Thompson, DDS was well worth going out of our way.