when choosing a doctor…
I’m not a racist, I let white folks use my bathroom! I do, however, have a preference for people of color in certain situations, specifically Black folks. There are limits, of course. When given a choice on nearly everything, I don’t care who does it if it’s done well. I don’t go to Starbucks and wait for the Black barista to make my latte over anyone else who is equally qualified at foaming milk and stuff. I do like to have Black doctors, though. Maybe because I haven’t been exposed to many over the years. Perhaps it was too much Cliff Huxtable. Could be now that my friends are dentists, ophthalmologists, anesthesiologist and such, I like the idea even more. I don’t know. Moving to a new city, I’m having to re-up on my roster of health care providers. I’ll probably just break down and ask my friends or coworkers who they see and roll with their recommendations (an excellent way to find a provider, actually) but at present I’m asking around to see who knows a Black dentist, primary care physician and a gyn.
Wait… that last one, gynecologist… that’s a special category. While I wouldn’t mind having a Black FEMALE gyn, I cannot have a Black male. I said as much on Twitter a couple of days ago and I wasn’t able to fully articulate why I felt that way when asked. I don’t even know if I can get my feelings about it across right now but I’ll try (and fail).
I have been seen by gyns who were white, East Asian, South Asian, and more who have been a mixture of male and female. No problem there. In fact, my male doctors were just as informative, thorough, gentle, appropriate, knowledgeable and capable as their female counterparts. Even more so in certain cases. Never in all of my recollection can I recall being seen by a Black male gyn and that’s fine with me. I know they’d be competent and capable of doing whatever I needed them to do so if that’s not the issue, what is it?
Someone asked me if I thought the doctor would be inappropriate or attracted to me. Or, did the converse apply, where I would have inappropriate feelings toward the doctor? No. There is nothing sexual about a pap smear. No. There is nothing sexy about someone placing one hand in your vagina while using the other to press down on your abdomen to feel your uterus. There’s absolutely nothing remotely sexy about the cramping that can result from a giant q-tip swabbing at your cervix. Yeah, you get the point. It’s not a great answer, but I just think that Black men claim a certain space in my life and mind.
Whereas I see them as brothers, fathers, best friends and lovers, men of other races do not share that same space. I am not a modest person at all, but I feel that I would get super modest, uncomfortable and guarded if I had to scoot my butt to the end of the table, put my feet in stirrups and let my knees fall to the side (that’s the standard gyn appointment instruction for the uninitiated) with a man who looks like he can whoop my ass in spades and out electric-slide me is holding the speculum. Notgonbeabletodoit!
It’s very important to have an open relationship with your gyn (or any doctor, for that matter) because the information you share with them can make a difference in diagnosis and/or treatment. Whether it’s rational or not, I am not sure I can be as comfy and candid with a Black male gynecologist as I would need to be. What are your feelings on choosing doctors of a certain race or background? What about choosing a gynecologist of a particular sex or race? Oh, and if you got the hookup and good references for some Black docs in NYC, get at me!