Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Black Man in a White Coat Installment
Black Man in a White Coat
I’m so glad that I decided to read “Black Man in a White Coat.” Dr. Damon Tweedy does a fantastic job of narrating us through his experiences that lead up to him becoming an African American medical doctor. This book was definitely an eye opener. It’s the first book I ever read that sparingly illustrates the lack of equity in the terms of race and medicine.
In the beginning of the book, Damon expressed to us his insecurity of attending Duke for medical school. Most members of his class had graduated from ivy league colleges and were on the pursuit to graduate for another one. Damon expressed that during his first month of medical school he spent more hours studying than he had his entire senior year of undergraduate school, rechanneling his fear into determination.
Midterms came around. Damon did well on them. He scored within the top half of the class on each single exam up to that point, which proved that all his studying wasn’t in vain. His test scores made him begin to feel comfortable as a first-year medical student at Duke- or at least he seemed that way until he returned from his mid-class break. After his mid-class break, Damon re-entered the classroom and had a seat. His professor came walking in his direction, but Damon thought he was just going to walk right by him because the professor, Dr. Gale, didn’t normally socialize with students. However, the professor stopped right in front of Damon and asked “are you hear to fix the lights?” In this moment, Damon thought maybe he heard him wrong so he asked the professor if he just ask him was he there to fix the lights. With annoyance in his voice, Dr. Gale responded, “You can see how dim it is on over there on that side of the room; I called about it last week.” Damon instantly began to check himself to make sure he didn’t look out of place as a medical student. He then told Dr. Gale that the lights being dim had nothing to do with him. Dr. Gale confusingly asked him why was he in his classroom if that wasn’t the reason. Damon told him that he was in his class. Dr. Gale said, “oh” and then walked away, without saying anything else. This encounter totally turned Damon’s day upside down.
I singled out this section of the book because it hit close to home for me. I have experienced a different but similar encounter. All throughout high school, I took Honor’s English. When my junior year came around, my teacher convinced me to take college freshman English my second semester. High school students can take college courses through a program called dual enrollment. I enrolled in Dyersburg State Community College and took the course. As expected, I made an A in the course. My senior year came around and the first semester I took Honor’s Senior English and made a perfect 100. When my final semester of high school came around, I took college sophomore English at Dyersburg State. This time I didn’t do so well. I made my very first C in school. When the grades got back to my teacher he shared them with my guidance counselor. I remember everything like it was yesterday. My guidance counselor called me into her office and asked me to take a seat. As I sat down she asked me did I have any idea on why she had called me to come into her office. (I literally had no idea)! The look she gave me was very distasteful. She then slammed my transcripts from Dyersburg State Community College down on her desk and told me to look at them. What I saw saddened me a little, but I had already accepted the fact that I wouldn’t have an A or a B in that course. I had already talked to my grandparents about the course. They reassured me that I had already done extremely well as a high school student and one C wouldn’t change the world. They just wanted me to take that grade as a lesson and use that to do better in life. My guidance counselor had a completely different aspect. She was furious about that C. She chewed me out. I remember her saying “this is unacceptable, Jayla. You’ve messed up your collegiate years before even attending college. I’m sure you’ll go to one of those unaccredited HBCU’s and at this point, I’m not sure if you will even graduate from there.” It was at that point that I began to tune her out. I was hurt. My eyes began to fill with tears. My throat felt like it was tightening and it became hard to swallow. I was devastated.
Coming into college, my guidance counselor’s words stuck with me. I graduated high school with a 3.75 GPA and didn’t receive not one scholarship. I entered college acquiring student loans because my family weren’t able to pay for my schooling. Although I did not attend “one of those unaccredited HBCU’s” that she said I’d go to, I still felt like I was a failure. My grades began to show that. I come to school wanted to be a doctor, but deep down I “knew” that would never happen. It wasn’t until I read this book last year, until I gained a completely different view.
The thing that I loved about Dr. Damon Tweedy is that he never let people’s words or actions keep him down. True enough he went through some things that no one would want to experience, but he used that as fuel power to get to his next level. He overcame so much to get to where he is today. This book inspired me to let go of my evil guidance counselor’s words and shift my mindset. Now in four days, I will be graduating from Middle Tennessee State University as Jayla Moore, B.S.!!!! If you’ve ever experienced anything like this, I totally recommend reading this book!