Monday, April 2, 2012

No pain, no gain!

Recently, a colleague of mine said to me "with your training and experience, there's no way I'd be working here". He and I are in the same group within my division, so we know each other pretty well. I was initially taken aback by what he said, then I responded with " my purpose for being here is so much bigger than what I brought to the table professionally speaking", or something to that effect. In other words, it's been clear to me from the moment I stepped foot in the place that I would learn to master two issues that have dogged me throughout my career: 1) how not to let other peoples "stuff" cause me to loose focus from my purpose and 2) how not to respond negatively to negative,insecure people. And this reminds me of a "debate" I had many years ago with a 3rd year med student during the time when I was a grad student. I suggested that the political landmines in grad programs were the worst thing ever especially for urm students, and she vehemently disagreed saying that the wards were by far, the most challenging. And after giving this conversation a LOT of thought recently, it's helped me put into perspective why I work at a place where both my job duties and pay aren't in line with where I could be.

I'm pretty unequivocal in my assertion that I've grown a TON professionally speaking in the last 7 months, and I'm not talking about any new techical skill I've learned. I'm talking about the significant change I've noticed in myself in how I deal with people, particularly those with ill intentions. Even better, I think I'm now far more skilled at keeping my emotions in check and staying cool under fire, which I believe is critical to surviving the 3rd year of med school, Internship and beyond ( how strange for me to even mention an Internship year since it's not required for path residents). Put another way, I think this is what people are really referring to when they speak of someone with "great people skills", a person who can handle BOTH nice people and those who are not so nice.

Moving on, I've been following the Trayvon Martin story pretty closely for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the bright light being shown on just how difficult it is to be Black in America. I mean just to be able to do something normal like make a quick stop by the local 7-11 can be a life changing event for someone of color, yet just another day in neighborhood for someone else. However, I try not to be a person who always harps on whatever "problem" there may be, I'm all about solutions, so now I'm just wondering what's EVERYONE gonna do about this situation, which affects us ALL??? Personally, find it ignorantly ironic that people, both Black and White, love to talk about how racially "open" they are, yet have NO meaningful interactions with ANYONE who doesn't look exactly like them. So what I want to know is how can that be unless you live some place like Utah or Montana? I feel very blessed to have love relationships with people from every race and a couple different cultures and often think of how incomplete my existence would be if I didn't. I'm also pretty certain that the reservations people have about people who are different from them stems from the unsubstantiated fear that fuels racial stereotypes which then only serve to perpetuate more racial stereotypes. But that's where good 'ol common sense should kick in. For example, if I go to my local Lord and Taylor driving an expensive car and pull out an expensive wallet from an even more expensive purse, chances are that I didn't come there to steal a $50 hair ornament. Of course I get it, people of means steal just like everyone one else but if you already know you're on unofficial "theif profile" list, why do anything to draw more attention to yourself like duh, steal? And this is one of the many positive things to come form the Martin case, it legitimizes what people of color have been saying for years and that is that we are often "profiled" just because of our appearance and for the record, I do NOT feel everyone who does it is racist. I think for many people it's an issue of what they have been conditioned to believe, based in large part on what's displayed in the media. So if most of what you see of young Black men is them being arrested on the nightly news, it's hard to keep that consistent message negativity in it's proper context of men like T. Grady, I. Howard, and Dr. L Smith. Don't know those last 3 men I named? One is a bus driver, another is an Engineer, and the last one is a Physician, ALL young Black men doing the right thing EVERYDAY!! And I won't even get into the hoopla over Black character's cast in the movie Hunger Games, WTH is THAT all about?

Okay THIS is a little long, so I'll wrap this up by saying that racial harmony is a lofty goal and one I wish were possible in my lifetime. Unfortunately, I don't think it 's a realistic one in today's racially polarized climate.

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