A patient called me the N-word

Editor’s note: This article contains a racial slur crucial to the writer’s story.

It took only 57 hours of working as a new attending physician in Charlottesville, Virginia for a patient to call me the N-word.

Fifty-seven hours. In fact, a racial slur found me before I found the shortcut to the hospital cafeteria. So, when torch-bearing White supremacists gathered downtown earlier this year, I saw more confirmation of my conclusion that bigotry feels right at home in Charlottesville.

Over the past decade, I have taken care of thousands of patients in North Carolina, Chicago, and New York City. Many have been grateful, some angry, a few have cussed at me and one, recently, even wrote me a poem. But, until a few weeks ago —¬†on my fourth day of work in Charlottesville — no patient of mine ever directed the N-word at me during a clinical encounter.

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