It took more than half a century, but Emory University finally got around to apologizing to Jews http://fox2now.com/2012/10/15/emory-university-owns-up-to-dental-schools-anti-semitic-history-and-offers-regrets/ for it’s gross antisemitism in its now defunct dental school. How nice. How ethical. But why stop there? How about an apology to African-Americans who attended Emory University Medical School and received a quick course in racism along with their basic anatomy. I attended Emory’s Medical School in the late seventies. Coming from the North, the South’s ugly, overt racism, in general, and Emory’s, in particular, proved a severe shock to my psyche. This was the 70’s for Pete’s Sake! Atlanta was billing itself as the next great city ! A black mayor was in office! Wasn’t this was the “new” South!
I was totally unprepared for:
1. Surgical residents routinely referring to their black patients as “uncle” and “auntie”.
2. A head of surgery bragging openly about how he personally made sure no Jews or blacks ever finished the surgery program. Emory assigned this miserable man to me as a mentor. I believe he was assigned to me to “keep me in my place” which he attempted to do at every turn through denigration and intimidation.
3. The despicable campaign Emory launched against medical students from the all-black Morehouse Medical School, implying Morehouse students were intellectually inferior and poorly trained. How they would ruin the medical training program at Grady Hospital which Emory’s white doctors had monopolized for decades. They threatened the city with pulling-out from Grady and taking all their fancy toys home. Screw the patients. Emory just was not going to abide working alongside black attendings as equals. Emory went so far as to institute additional testing for all medical students training at Grady. They told us at a meeting, it was Morehouse’s fault because Morehouse would lower the standard of care at Grady and more testing was needed to weed them out. We had to be tested as well, otherwise, it would appear “prejudicial.”
4. Surgeons flubbing operations on black patients then quietly covering up their mistakes. It’s been 30 years, but I still vividly remember watching in horror as one of my patients spilled liters of bile from his abdomen after a over-zealous, haughty Chief Resident perforated his common bile duct. The attending instructed the resident : “let’s leave that out of the operative report, shall we.” The patient died shortly thereafter.
5. Being pulled aside by the lone black resident in the Internal Medicine program who informed me that “Emory likes their niggers quiet. Do not show-up the white folk if you want to finish.”
6. A white doctor deliberately damaging a black woman’s uterus during an abortion so she could never become pregnant again, while during expensive fertility surgery on a well-to-do white woman, a white female surgeon opined, “Now these are people who should be having babies.”
I could go on and on but this diary would become as long as a bed sheet. I survived Emory, but I did not thrive. There were only four blacks in my class and half of them flunked out.
So now, on behalf of my colleagues from Morehouse Medical School, on behalf of all those black patients disrespected and sometimes destroyed by racist doctors, on behalf of my fellow black students who either exited Emory Medical School without a diploma or were dropped from residency programs by Emory’s racist department chairmen, on behalf of the painfully few black attendings at Grady who lacked the courage to stand-up to power, and on behalf of all people of color who struggled through Emory University School of Medicine despite all the crap thrown at them, I ask Emory University, “When do we get OUR apology?”
I’ll check back in another thirty years.