I recently took a family member to a provider for an appointment. The provider did not know my family member does not speak English fluently, and when he realized I was translating, he proceeded to flap his hands around and in front of my mother's face. We made eye contact and laughed it off, but it felt wrong. After fake laughing for about ten more minutes, he asked if I was translating what he said because it sounded like I had added more. At that point, I felt offended and decided it was time to end the appointment.
On our way to grab lunch, I decided to pick up the phone and call the office we had just left. Every bone in my body told me not to because I didn't want to cause a scene or pull "a race card," but I couldn't let go of the feeling. So I advised them of our experienced and shared we would no longer use their services. A part of me felt like I had no right doing this and should just stay quiet and leave it alone. But a more significant part of me is tired of staying silent and letting white males treat my family or me in any way THEY think is appropriate.
The doctor called me within an hour and stated he did not believe he had done anything wrong and was appalled because he thought the humor was a great way to keep "things upbeat' in the office. He stated he had no ill intent or disrespected my family member on purpose but felt like he was sorry. However, he believed he hadn't done anything to upset us. There was so much I wanted to say, but I felt more upset at the end of the phone call.
Moral of the story: even though this incident is not rare in my life as an immigrant woman, I did not stay quiet this time. I fought the feelings of fear and spoke up.
I realized more than ever that I must continue moving forward and help others be more culturally sensitive, especially in leadership roles.
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Five years ago today, I filed for unemployment compensation.
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